When the nine riders of Fly V Australia line up for the Tour of the Battenkill in Cambridge, New York, Sunday morning, they will have the confidence that comes with riding for one of the most experienced directors on the road.
Former Navigators and Team Type 1 boss Ed Beamon joined Fly V Australia for 2010 and will pilot the team car on the dirt roads of Upstate New York Sunday. Beamon directed Navigators for 14 years (1993-2007) and his classics palmares include Henk Vogels’ second-place Ghent-Wevelgem ride in 2002.
VeloNews caught up with Beamon before the start to talk about the aura surrounding the race, his team’s chances and the unique challenges a race like Battenkill presents.
VeloNews: You’ve identified Battenkill as a priority race for the team. Why is that?
Ed Beamon: Battenkill is a UCI race and one of the objectives of this team this year is not just to win a lot of races, but to pick up the quality of races this team is winning.
Getting a lot of wins is important, but going after quality wins is even more important. Battenkill is just one of those types of events where it’s just a rugged, tough guy, one-day classic-type race. We’ve identified that, from our perspective, as a quality win.
VN: There is a lot of energy around this event right now.
EB: I talked to guys in all categories during the Fall – Masters riders, Cat III riders, Cat II riders, aspiring pros – up and down this mid-Atlantic to New England area and you talk to these guys in September, October and all that is on their mind is being fit for Battenkill. I say, “But you’re a crit rider,’ and it’s just, ‘Battenkill.’”
It has that kind of mystique and cult following to it.
VN: What is it about the race that lends itself to that kind of following?
EB: It’s a really unique sort of road event. It’s fairly rugged terrain. It’s not big mountains obviously, but it’s typical east coast, up and down, short, punchy climbs and many of those climbs are unpaved. At a time of year when you’re looking at Flanders and Paris-Roubaix and some of those really epic classics going on in Europe, I think guys relate to Battenkill as kind of being that kind of race.
VN: How does a course like this impact the race tactically?
EB: Tactically, I think it’s the type of race where the challenge of the course itself is going to play very big into who can actually anticipate being a contender. It’s one of those races that are going to be a race of attrition.
Guys are just going to get eliminated from the race because the race itself will be so tough.
I’ll be very surprised if it’s a very big group that makes it to the line. I’d be more expecting the onesies, twosies coming to the line, even in the front group.
From our perspective, we have a bunch of guys that are tough and have the savvy to go the distance, but also have a bunch of guys that can do that and finish with a bunch of speed.
VN: A squad like yours has options, which, in a race that is this unpredictable, is a distinct advantage.
EB: I think we’ll approach the race from the standpoint that we can play it either way. We can get real aggressive and try and push guys up the road or we’ve got to just keep making the selections and see how many guys we have in the finishing group and how much speed is left at that point.
VN: What unique logistical challenges does a race like Battenkill present?
EB: I think our main focus is to be as diligent as possible before the race, making sure that wheels and tires and of course bikes are really well dialed. It’s one of those races where, if you do have problems out on the road, it’s going to be hard to get back to the lead group.
Certainly in the latter half, even, of the first circuit, cars are going to get spread out. The field gets itself spread out and cars can’t get in between, so a guy that’s riding very well and has a puncture or a mechanical in the front end of the group can find himself sitting on the side of the road for a minute or two, waiting for a car to get to him, because the race is so stretched out.
VN: Without radios, hopefully the team car will see him.
EB: Hopefully, at the very least, the chief (commissaire) will see him and let the rest of us know. I think this is probably going to be the first dramatic test, that’s a great point. I think it’s true that his may be one of the first really dramatic tests of how much of an impact the lack of radios could potentially have in terms of eliminating people from races because of poor communication.
Fly V Australia for Tour of the Battenkill
Director: Ed Beamon
21 Brooks, Hayden (AUS)
22 Cantwell, Jonathan (AUS)
23 Day, Benjamin (AUS)
24 Dionne, Charles (CAN)
25 Kemp, David (AUS)
26 Kemps, Aaron (AUS)
27 Sulzberger, Bernard (AUS)
28 Tanner, David (AUS)
29 Thomson, Jay Robert (RSA)