Stage Victory and Podium Finish for
Jamis/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team at Tour do Rio
Eric Schildge Wins Stage Five; Tyler Wren Takes Third in “Queen Stage”
Jamis/Sutter Home’s Eric Schildge wins the final stage of the Tour do Rio (photo credit: Fotocom.net)
With the international spotlight soon shining on Rio de Janeiro when it hosts the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, Brazil is investing heavily in world-class sporting events like the Tour do Rio. Running from July 27-31, the UCI 2.2 event is among the most prestigious races in all South America. Representing the Jamis/Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team were sprinter Anibal Borrajo and climber Tyler Wren, supported over the five days by aggressive strongmen Jamey Driscoll, Nick Frey, Guido Palma, and Eric Schildge.
For American riders Tyler Wren and Nick Frey, the trip was almost over before it began. Upon landing in Rio de Janeiro, both were informed that the visas they had obtained the previous fall had expired and they would not be allowed to enter the country. Thankfully, crisis was averted by an emergency call to the ministry department and a good word from the mayor of Rio. After almost a full day stuck in customs, Tyler and Nick were finally free to join their teammates and focus on the race.
Unfortunately, Nick did not fare much better in the Stage One road race. Racing was aggressive from the start, with hills, crosswinds, and poor conditions contributing to the difficulty of the 90-mile course. Nick crashed hard in the first mile and was forced to abandon due to a deep laceration to his kneed. But his Jamis/Sutter Home teammates stayed attentive and active, with most finishing in the main group.
With flatter terrain and calmer winds, the 100-mile Stage Two road race was a welcome change for most riders. With the help of his teammates, Anibal Borrajo worked his way up into position and fought to hold the wheels of the other top sprinters in the race. A tricky U turn at two miles to go shuffled the group but Anibal was able to return to the front and then jumped for the line with everything he had. Spread six wide across the road, Anibal threw his bike forward in a close sprint, ultimately finishing fourth.
Jamis/Sutter Home knew the 73-mile Stage Three road race would be important for the general classification battle, with one categorized climb shortly after the start and a second near the finish. Attacks came right from the gun, with Eric Schildge leading the charge. Eric was eventually reeled in before the first climb but he successfully allowed his teammates to take refuge in the peloton and enter the hills as fresh as possible. The field stayed mainly together until the final ascent where, over the top of the climb and on the following descent, a group of 11 riders, including Tyler Wren and Jamey Driscoll, was able to pull away. The final run in to the finish was full of attacks, but Tyler and Jamey held strong and launched impressive sprints to the line, finishing 4th and 5th, respectively. Their efforts also moved them up to 9th and 10th, respectively, on the general classification.
Stage Four was the “queen” stage of this year’s Tour do Rio, with hills throughout the 119-mile course. Jamis/Sutter Home’s Eric Schildge spent the opening miles off the front with another rider. While he and his breakaway companion were caught on the first major ascent, another break of 12 riders went over the top of the climb, with Tyler Wren, Jamis/Sutter Home’s best-placed GC contender, in the group. Not one to be left out of the action at the front, Jamie Driscoll eventually managed to bridge up to Tyler’s group after a daunting chase with another rider. As the finish line approached, Jamie launched an attack with just under two miles remaining, forcing other teams to chase and allowing Tyler to sit in the draft and conserve energy for the sprint. As Jamie was caught, Tyler jumped toward the line, crossing in third for the Jamis/Sutter Home’s first podium appearance. With a significant time gap to the next group, Tyler and Jamie also moved up to 7th and 8th, respectively, on the general classification.
Stage Five of the Tour do Rio was a flat, 110-mile run to the finish line. From the gun, the Jamis/Sutter Home squad covered moves and launched their own attacks. Again, it was Eric Schildge who found himself in a promising move with four other riders. The break worked well together and maintained a comfortable lead throughout the stage. As they approached the finish line, their gap was still significant enough that it looked like they would be racing for the win. With this in mind, Eric did his best to conserve energy and maintain perfect position. As the small group entered the finishing stretch, Eric unleashed an incredible sprint and won the stage. Tyler and Jamie finished safely in the main peloton to maintain their rankings of 7th and 8th, respectively, on general classification.