Last weekend, Harvest Racing Development Rider Tyler Reynolds took third place in the cat 4 Omnium at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He accomplished this by finishing third in the time trial, winning the road race, and taking seventh at the criterium.
Time Trial: 3rd of 92 starters
The young Reynolds began prepping for the time trial the day before the race by studying the course from the car. "Actually, I was kinda car sick when we arrived, and I just wanted to get out and ride my bike, so I don't remember much from the car," Reynolds admitted later. Fortunately, he never succumbed to nausea. But when he did pre-ride the course, he took note of the short downhill segment before the 2.5 mile climb kicked up to nearly 7% gradient. He also made mental notes of landmarks along the way that would help him judge his effort and distance remaining. Off the bike, he discussed his TT strategy with friend and cat 3 cyclist Trey Hedgecock (North Star Devo). The two of them concluded that the key to this uphill time trial was in carrying momentum. “Finding the right gear, sticking with it, and keeping a smooth cadence was important," he recalled them agreeing on. Meanwhile, Reynolds also received some big-brotherly advice from Olathe-Trek Subaru’s Garrick Valverde (cat 1), who advised him to "conserve energy at the start of the race while adrenaline was spiking, and save it for when the pain would comes later, about half way up the hill." Valverde’s advice turned out to be spot-on: Reynolds was able to push through the pain at the half way point as predicted, while maintaining his cadence as he climbed. In the final quarter mile, he shifted into the big ring and caught two riders ahead before crossing the line. Reynolds understands the value of preparing for time trials. "Last year, the Midwest Flyover Series gave me a lot of practice doing TTs. The LaCrosse TT was a lot like this one as it climbed the side of a bluff” he said. The preparation paid off: Reynolds had secured in third place in the general classification (GC) after the time trial.
Road Race: 1st of 51
After 40 miles of flats, rolling hills, and a few steep and technical descents -- “the kind we don’t get in Iowa” Reynolds remarked -- the road race came down to a field sprint. Reynolds was sitting fourth with less than 1K to go when an attack reshuffled the field, bouncing him back to 11th place going into the final turn. With 300 meters to go, he saw an opening up the road, spun up his crank and quickly passed several riders. After that effort he was sitting third. That's when he spotted that the leader came unclipped from his pedal and was drifting back. Reynolds dug deep again, and as the line approached, he closed the gap to the new leader. Both riders crossed the line at the same moment. Several minutes passed as the officials reviewed the photo finish. Ultimately, a winner could not be declared, so they had them do a 1000m sprint-off to decide it, mano-a-mano style. As he was being held in TT starting position, Reynolds decided that he would jump hard from the whistle with the hopes of opening up a gap. From there, he’d reassess, conserve for the final sprint if possible, or keep on the gas to the finish if required. It turned out that his initial jump proved to be the winning move as he was able to maintain the gap until he crossed the line first. In doing so, Reynolds also picked up 10 seconds of bonus time for the win. At the end of day, Reynolds had locked in third place in the GC with one stage remaining.
Criterium: 7 of 51
Sitting third in the GC, Reynold's goals were to race well and protect his podium spot. In the early going, he had no difficult staying with the group and covering attacks. After the two planned primes were done, he decided to make a move when one of the stronger riders rode off the front of the field. As he bridged, an unplanned bonus prime was announced to the field. The two pressed on after the prime lap and managed to stay away for a few laps before they were reeled back in. “I was super tired after that effort, so I needed to rest and just stay with the group to recover,” he said afterwards. Ultimately, like the day before, it came down to a field sprint. Half way through the final lap, a GP Velotek rider attacked and opened up a lead. The field responded with power surges as riders fought for position. On the final climb, Reynolds was squeezed toward the barriers. It was risky to press on, so he held back and finished seventh, a spot Reynolds knew would preserve his third place in the omnium standings.
In all, the Joe Martin stage race was a successful endeavor for the young Reynolds. Winning a road race on this stage, and taking third in the omnium is a good way to cap off one's cat 4 road racing experience. In fact, we have just learned that upon returning home, Tyler's submitted category 3 upgrade has been approved.
Congratulations at Joe Martin, and to your cat 3 upgrade, Tyler Reynolds. You've earned it!