The Gateway Cup is a four day series of fast-paced, high-intensity criterium races. The races are held in St. Louis every year on Labor Day Weekend and are part of the USA Criterium Series. This event brings out some of the strongest criterium racers in the U.S. To say I was nervous and excited would be a major understatement! Thanks for reading our Gateway Cup Race Recap!
The drive up to St. Louis from Rogers is approximately a five-hour drive. Luckily I had my good friend Grant Lampson along for the drive. To pass the time we pretty much goofed around the whole drive up there which was entertaining for Grant and me, but not so much for my dad! Once we got to St. Louis, we checked into our hotel then went to bed as it was past midnight.
Although not the best idea, the next morning I decided to shave my legs before I raced. This caused many issues, like a clogged drain that grossed out roommates and caused us to have to call maintenance. My dad walked in to see the mess I had made and said it looked like a Woolly Mammoth died in the shower. Anyway, the first race of the weekend was fast approaching. We got our gear together, ate some pre-race food and left for the first race.
Once we arrived at the race site, we set up the Breakaway Cycling Team tent. Our coaches, Tiffany Dixon, and Brad Schrag talked to the team and me about our strategy for the race. We always work as a team so we talked through different scenarios and race situations and how the team should react. My job was to sit in, do as little work as possible and with two laps to go in the race jump off the front of the peloton. I was excited and ready.
As the start approached, I got more and more nervous. Before I knew it, we were lined up with 75 other really fast looking dudes. As the announcer said go, I moved into a good position, however, as some people may know Category 4/5 can be a little sketchy at times. The sketchiness is mainly caused by the combination of new racers and really fast guys which can be a bit of a disaster once the race gets underway. For example, there was a rider (I’m assuming he was new at this) that crashed at least once in each race over the weekend. I made sure to stay away from him. Anyway, as the lap counter was counting down to one to go, I was preparing myself to make a move. I moved up closer to the front of the pack and on the 2nd to the last lap when the pace slowed on a slight uphill, I jumped hard and broke away. I stayed off the front until the second to last corner and was close to taking the win. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned for me, but luckily the move I made helped get my teammate Jacob Smithpeters into a good position and in the end he finished on the podium in third. Overall we were successful as a team and by the way, what a load of fun the race was.
The next day I decided to stick to the front half of the field. I sat in the peloton mainly because there wasn’t a great time to attack or make a move. The race was fast, and there were crashes all over, but thankfully my team and I avoided any mishaps.
The race flew by quickly, and on the last lap right before the second to last corner, someone went off the front. No one chased him, and he was getting away, so I took it upon myself to chase him down. As we approach the final corner, I could feel my legs screaming at me for working so hard to close the gap only seconds earlier. As soon as we turned the last corner, the guy in front of me went all out for the finish line. I was burnt from my earlier effort, but luckily at the time, my teammate Grant Lampson was right behind me. Without realizing it, I went for the sprint as Grant was stuck to my wheel. I ended up missing the podium but was happy when I found out Grant ended up getting second and another podium for the Breakaway Cycling Team.
After watching coach Brad and my other teammates, Jo Pardue and Sam Meullenet race we went to dinner. We went to a great Asian restaurant picked by coach Brad. The food was heathy and really good. The food overall in St. Louis was awesome, and we ate well all weekend.
What I really enjoyed the most besides the racing in St. Louis, was The City Museum. For those who haven’t been there, it’s like a giant jungle gym; it’s so sick! With that, I’m 6’ 4” so was stuck in a few “situations” but still managed to have a ton of fun squeezing and climbing through the assortment of tight, claustrophobic spaces. I even managed to get a little lost but had a ton of fun and overall great experience.
The third race of the weekend is held in a part of the city with a lot of heritage. The Old Italian District on the “Hill” was a great setting for the race, and the hill there made it probably one of the more tough races of the weekend. The plan was for me to attack on the hill on the last lap. Everything was set up perfect. My position in the group was good and my teammate Jacob Smithpeters got ready to help me make a move. At the perfect time, he pulled me up to the front of the group to approximately 3 or 4 bikes back. Everything was spot on. Then the guys in front of me pulled off, and I panicked. In my head, I thought it’s now or never, so I went, but it was way too early. I almost got away, but as I took one last look before I went full gas, I could see someone right behind me and the full peloton right behind him. That’s the problem with attacking at the front of the pack, everyone can see that you’re making a move. I should’ve backed off and waited for the sprint. You can learn something in almost every race. In the end, it was a fun and a course that I thoroughly enjoyed.
The Gateway Cup was an amazing race that really test you on so many levels. I am thankful to have to the coaching I get from Brad and Tiffany and the awesome Team I have around me. I definitely would not have been ready and competitive without their constant support and encouragement. I also want to thank the U23 guys for coming out to race, support and hang out with us juniors. I learn so much by just being around them and watching how they prepare and race.
To sum it up the gateway cup was a great action-packed race in a fun and cool city. Although I didn’t place each race, it was a great learning experience that put me in various situations that will help me tactically in future races. I already can’t wait to race again!