Spies in “Hardest Race Ever”

Henny Ray Abrams | March 8, 2011

Yamaha’s Ben Spies joked last week that at the team dinners following every bicycle race, the consensus is always that it was the hardest race ever. This past Sunday night, Spies wasn’t going to argue.The owner of the Elbowz Racing Elite Cycling Team finished sixth in the Pro 2/3 class in Saturday’s 83-mile La Primavera at Lago Vista road race about 26 miles outside of Austin, Texas, but the effort was fatiguing. The taste of the pro class was humbling, he said, but he had a good workout nonetheless. And he was ecstatic that his team finished one-two in a very talented field on both days. Joe Schmalz beat team leader Heath Blackgrove of New Zealand by .37 sec. on day one, with Blackgrove taking the victory on the second day from teammate Christian Helmig of Germany by a whopping 31 secs.

“The first day I rode the Pro 1/2 race with the main team and there was a group of four up the road and then there was a group of 20 that I was in,” Spies began “and basically the rest of the field got dropped because the race was so hard. So it started out with 90 people and then ended up getting down to 25 or 30 and I was in that group. And the problem was the group I was with had a lot a lot of strong, just really good guys in it. As the race got on I just couldn’t handle it any more and fell off the back””The second day – obviously from riding the first day I was in a world of hurt – I did a 2/3 race and rode with that and it was a good race for me,” Spies said after dropping down a class to ride in the shorter Cat 2/3 61-mile on Sunday.  “I wasn’t feeling super-great after the first day and obviously…for the amateur stuff, there’s a lot of teams that go into that race that have eight or ten guys on a team and there were two or three teams in that race and I was kinda by myself, so I just rode and did as good as I could and had fun. I finished I think sixth overall, so it was a good race. It was fun. There was a break of four or five people that went up the road and I was in the main group and finished second in the sprint finish.”Overall, Spies said, “It was definitely a hard weekend, super-hard course, but to see the team how they rode together was great. It wasn’t about me this weekend, but it was fun to watch them and they’re definitely on the right path to…you know, they’re using these races for training for going to the pro stuff. Their season starts basically in about three weeks, four weeks. They’re definitely on track and have pretty much won every race in Texas except for one this year, so it’s going good.”It just shows the team’s getting together and they’re riding together really well and everything’s just coming together really good. So I’m looking forward to when they start what they would call their season.”The team used the Texas race as training for the Pro tour, which is soon to begin. Spies said, because “when they start traveling they’ll be racing against the big teams, they’ll be racing only Category 1 races where 2’s aren’t even allowed to race with them.”Now Spies has a few days at home prior to flying to Qatar on Thursday for this weekend’s final MotoGP test before the championships starts the following Thursday evening.”I’ll go pack and hang out with all the friends for a few days,” Spies said. “Recover from this weekend. Have a couple little workouts and cruise to Qatar and get ready to go.”


Henny Ray Abrams | Contributing Editor

Abrams is the longest-serving contributor at Cycle News. Over the course of his 35-some years of writing and shooting photos, he’s covered events from MotoGP to the Motocross World Championship - and everything in between.