The queen of the Michigan spring classics, Cone-Azalia goes off on Sunday, and it is sure to bring the dirt road talent out in full force. The course features two major dirt sections per lab that are riddled with potholes, water bars, and gravel. Depending on the previous year’s winter, the pavé can be hard as concrete or sticky as velcro. Initial forecasts call for a dry race, but rain earlier in the week could make things interesting. No matter the condition, the race is always violent and selective. Unlike some of the dirt road races earlier in the year there is a real advantage to using a road bike rather than a cyclocross bike. You will still need to run 27 or 28c tires. You still might flat, but knobs are out of the question. Regardless of bike selection or field, you and your equipment will be tested. If you make it to the end you will be tired, but not tired enough to forego the ride down the street to Original Gravity Brewing.
In the Elite field WASlabs will look to continue their success in Michigan bringing a mixed Ohio and Michigan squad. A house divided; with the common goal of dirt road dominance will see Adam York and Jason Young returning to the dirt after weekend of criterium racing. Tom Burke reaffirmed his gravel IQ by taking 4th at Cohutta while Shawn Adams and Aaron Cruikshank will look to build on success north of the border after Paris to Ancaster.
While details about the field are still shaking out, you would expect Steve Broglio to be in the hunt after his Barry Roubaix win. Mike Simonson will certainly be a wheel to watch after a solid Paris to Ancaster showing. Dan Korienek, Daniel Lam, and Nate Williams should be men to stay close to towards the finish. Race conflicts in Ohio will keep Netherland Rubber closer to home, but local teams such as Bissell/ABG, Wolverine, and Leadout will look to control the race from the gun. Hopefully a train crossing doesn’t do their job for them this year. Make sure to get signed up. See you out there, or at OG after.