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Doing the Math with Jamie Paolinetti (continued)

Story by Jaime Nichols
Photos by Jaime Nichols and Scott Schaffrick

ekm0010.jpg (200090 bytes)
Click for larger image

Victory at Shelby

With so much depending on a kind of fluid, non-literal intelligence, Jamie says itís "hard to explain why I won Shelby two years in a row, I mean, thatís impossible! The odds are a bazillion to one! Itís just so difficult to win a bike race!"

Going into the race Jamie knew "with only three of us, we had to take some chances." He felt like they had a good shot if it came to a field sprint, of leading his teammate Hilton Clarke, a natural racer with a mean kick in the sprint, to victory. Still, all the best domestic teams had good representation in the field, and it would be a hard, fast race. Jamie and his teammates planned to follow the big teams and go with any dangerous attacks. "We had to mesh our game plan with theirs: Follow them and use what the race threw at us."

Shelby is one of the toughest Criteriums of the year, and this year is was hotter and windier than usual with high humidity: conditions Jamie welcomed as being almost as if they "had another teammate."

Once the race got underway, it was hard even to take a pull, and the chance that it would come down to a field sprint started looking slim. Teammate Michael Johnson and Jamie started covering moves, while Hilton surfed the front of the pack, keeping an eye on Prime Allianceís star speedster Jonas Carney and saving something for a sprint if it came to that. When Canadian national champion Mark Walters of the Navigators team launched an attack that was quickly marked by Mercuryís Gord Fraser, and Alex Candelario of Prime Alliance, Jamie says it was a matter of seeing the "the right guys in the wrong place at the right time." He had a good idea that the break would stay away, and went with it.

"The more you can keep in your head about whoís in the race and whatís happened and what theyíve done up until that point, the better. You have to keep tabs on everyone." Jamie says. He used what he had seen up until that point in the race, as well as his knowledge of the racing styles of the other riders and teams, and started to see the winning equation. "Gord is a real bike racer," says Jamie. "Heís Mercuryís field sprinter, but heís not afraid to race his bike. If he gets in a break, he works." Jamie also knew that Walters and Candelario would hesitate, hoping the field would catch to give their stronger sprinters a shot at the win.

Shelby Criterium
(click for larger image)

Mercury was the strongest team in the race, and Jamie knew that they would try to control the field to protect Fraserís lead, while Prime Alliance would try to chase, hoping for better odds with stronger sprinters Jonas Carney and Dave McCook. 7-Up had missed the break all together, and would also be on the hook to chase. With 13 laps to go, Gord and Jamie worked the break hard, with Alex Candelario and a nervous Mark Walters doing minimal work. With 5 laps to go, Gord and Jamie were in a rhythm, trading pulls as if they were in a two-man time trial: one would pull, and then the other would come through to take over.

"Once the move was away and established, Gord and I were the only ones working, and we started to open gaps on each other instead of falling right back in line behind one another. This caused Walters and Candelario to move up and close the gaps, which was not an easy thing to do at that point in the race. After a few times, those two started looking to each other to do the work, and it became more and more difficult." The race was nearing the end, and Walters and Candelario were starting to feel the pressure and responsibility to win the race for their team, and didnít want to work too hard; especially in a break with firepower like Gord Fraser. By this time, Jamie was waiting for his moment: a technical point in the course with a turn that he could really drill into. When he found it, instead of pulling even with Gord, he shot past and got a larger gap. With three laps to go, Jamie attacked and went solo. Fraser was caught off-guard, and the other two were gapped. "Alex and Walters hesitated for a second," says Jamie, "and I punched it full gas through some turns. By the time they came out of the turns, the gap was significant, and we were close to the end of the race. If either of them had closed that Gap with Gord on their wheel, they would have thrown out any chance of winning."

By this time, the Navigatorsí train was forming at the front of the pack, and Walters dropped back to help give chase. Jamie says that was "danger time" for him, and a simple matter of "whether or not I could go fast enough to hold them off." He continued to drill it especially hard in the corners, hit the bottom curve on the course at top speed with both wheels drifting, pounded up the hill as hard as he could go, and looking back under his arm, he saw the pack, and knew he had it.

I asked Jamie if he started to consider his victory salute at that point and he said he had, but mostly, he just started to laugh. The thought of having solved an impossible equation, of all of it coming together perfectly striking him with humor and with the pleasure of having done the math.

Jamie's Palmares

2002 First Charter Shelby Criterium - 1st
2001 First Charter Shelby Criterium - 1st
2001 US Professional Criterium Championships - 6th
2001 Ontario Grand Prix - 1st
2001 Oceanside Grand Prix - 1st
2001 Irwindale Grand Prix - 1st
2001 ABR Criterium Championship - 1st
2001 Another Dam Race, Stage 2 Criterium - 1st
2000 Ontario Criterium Series Overall - 1st
2000 Boise Twilight Criterium - 2nd
2000 US Elite National Criterium Championships - 2nd
1997 Manhattan Beach Criterium - 1st
1993 US Professional Criterium Championships - 4th

You can learn more about Jamie and his team, and follow their season as it develops by visiting Schroeder Iron Cycling.

"I'm good at posing!" Jamie Paolinetti breaks out the 
charm at the Pomona Valley Road Race


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