Leland Kermesse presented by Flatlandia Race Preview
Leland-Kermesse is the perfect race for a team called Flatlandia to present. It's a race that proves that you don't need hills to have a hard road race. Dirt roads, strong winds and midwestern spring weather are more than enough for a sufferfest. This race will most definitely up your pain tolerance. If you have any faint inkling that you are the next Boonen or Cancellara here is your race to prove it. We've got last year's W 1/2/3 winner, Tamara Fraser, for the low-down on Leland.
(Photo by Chicago phototographer Gavin Gould. Mr Gould has wonderful photo documentation of the last two years of Leland. They can be found on his site, http://gavingould.com/kermesse.html.)
From Ms Fraser:
When you get to the race, make riding on the gravel roads part of your warm-up. Get used to it, commit to it, don't be tentative. You don't need your 'cross tires, they'll only hold you back on the pavement. Just get a feel for the variable conditions. There are a couple good lines through the unpaved roads, generally where car tires have pushed the gravel to the sides. Dress for the weather – the cold took out more riders last year than anything else.
During the race, wind will be a big factor. The more you can shelter from it, the better. Don't let little gaps open up, they're WAY harder to close in the wind. And be watchful – racers can use the crosswinds to take advantage of those little gaps and split the field. You don't want to be on the wrong side of that. Same for the gravel – don't just watch the wheel ahead of you, monitor for gaps. If you see one opening up ahead, go around and get yourself in front of the split – if you don't burn the matches to bridge immediately, you probably won't get another chance. There may be big attacks on the gravel or there may just be attrition, whichever, a selection will be made. Whatever group you end up in, try and organize a paceline, stay alert and take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. Race hard and smart.
And cross the finish line covered in filth and glory."