Stage 5 of the TOUR introduced the second KOM of the event. Conditions were absolutely perfect for the ride, low 80s and minimal humidity.
The pack made good time as it wound through Riverdale and Pompton Lakes, crossing Route 23 with a perfect green light and rolling swiftly into Pompton Plains.
“I introduced more flowy riding before we hit the first points sections,” Kenneth Lundgren said. “We get a good warm-up, we all get a feel for each other on the road. Some of the roads are narrow, some are trafficky, but we’ve never had any issue ever on the road and it will remain that way.”
The group climbed up into Montville and the Taylortown KOM began after the Route 287 overpass traffic light. Nick Morell immediately dropped the hammer.
He accelerated up the slopes, helium in his wheels. His velocity was impressive.
“The harder you climb, the faster it is done,” Morell said.
Behind, yellow jersey Iwaszczuk gave chase. He rode the climb smart, maintaining a big enough lead for 2nd.
The battle for 3rd was intense, with Jason Pilato, Bladdy Coronel, Chris Labudde, and Gabrielle Czernik all throwing down against one another, making for a fast ascent.
Pilato powered away, clearly pushing himself into 3rd on the road.
“Then he flatted,” Lundgren said, “and he got last. I only say that because it happened right in front of me. But, still good training! He rode hard all night.”
Czernik was gapped midway, Labudde was off the front, pedaling hard, not coming back.
Coronel is riding at a high level right now. He rode with Czernik, then dropped her, bridged to Labudde, then gapped him at the top, cleanly taking 3rd. Ferocious performance.
The group rode smoothly as it meandered up towards the rad plateau that is Boonton Township and Mountain Lakes. The group barreled down the wide Boulevard towards the second points section of the night.
Iwaszczuk jumped first and jumped best — peoooooooo. When you ride in the yellow jersey, you ride from the front, displaying your strength. Strongest rider wears yellow, very commonly this is the case, and it’s no different with Iwaszczuk.
“In road racing, or even with racing in general, I like to see athletes ride to break their opponents, not get broken,” Lundgren said. “Iwaszczuk is racing smart. He is the strongest man, launching the attack in each section and challenging these guys to come around him. You do it, or you do not. All-in. To win, you must risk losing.”
Iwaszczuk knew when to time his effort — he jumped near the crest of the roller, powered down the slope with a gap and came across the line with a huge lead.
Green jersey Coronel pipped Morell at the line for 2nd.
In the finishing section in Kinnelon, Iwaszczuk continued with his aggression, attacking on the first hill.
“He gapped us all on the first hill,” Morell said. “I gave chase, but it was pretty much ten minutes of him there and me here, I could not close it.”
The pace sapped Czernik and Pilato. Coronel was able to keep a steady pace, finding himself alone after the first series of climbs.
Pilato put his head down and chased Coronel down like a dog, dragging Czernik with him.
A mile from the finish, the three came together and it was going to be a sprint for the finish. Coronel has the most experience of the group and it showed — as they lined up for the sprint, Coronel timed his acceleration just right as he instantly gapped his riding companions and held his acceleration to the line.
Czernik finished 4th, Pilato 5th.
Labudde performed terrifically in his second stage of the TOUR. “I have been doing more gym work and it’s been helping me with my strength.”
Labudde flatted before the Kinnelon section and was able to repair it and finish not far behind the group. He has never ridden stronger.
“Good training,” Labudde said, smiling wryly after making contact again before the group descended through Kinnelon and Butler.
Jennifer Defalco was the second revelation of the day, nearly cracking early in the ride and then nearly riding herself through to the other side, riding strong and able to pace the pain. She got 3rd points on the KOM and 4 points in a valiant finishing effort
Defalco, the 2015 winner of the Femme jersey, recently won the Cat-2 Lewis Morris MTB race and has experienced improved form through the TOUR.
“I am tired but feeling stronger,” Defalco said. “I felt great tonight. Gabrielle is riding so fast and it’s been a blast trying to battle with her.”
The 6th Stage is Saturday, wheels down 8am from Riverdale NJ. Ride time will be 3h, a true parade of the terrain.
The TOUR is free and awesome and open to all experienced riders. Riders can start at any stage; the points keep adding up.
For parking and directions, contact Coach@EliteEndurance.com.