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Rider Highlight: Thomas Wavrin climbs his way to 9th GC at Tour of the Gila

Anyone familiar with the road scene in the U.S. is well familiar with how brutal Tour of the Gila is. Thomas Wavrin had an excellent race despite coming from wintry Wisconsin and spending a lot of time on the trainer. It takes a lot of mental toughness to get through Gila in general, but Thomas stayed focused and patient working himself up to 9th in GC in the Tour of the Gila, Men’s 1/2 race! Fantastic job, Thomas!  

**Thanks Dean Warren Photography for use of the photos. Check out his cycling podcast too!**

How’d Tour of the Gila go down for you?

The first stage had significant head/ cross-head wind and in the past it was the kind of conditions that I have struggled with. Just two and a half weeks earlier I was dropped from the main group on stage 3 of the Joe Martin Stage race under similar conditions for a section of the course. The week after the race I talked to my team coach and he recommended that I ride at the front but just pull thru to reduce the risk of being dropped.

I used this tactic which was mostly successful when the race split up. With 4 km to go I was dropped and lost 2:02 minutes to the stage winner. In retrospect, I did too much at some points which meant that I was spent for the finish but it was probably better than being caught out and dropped 65 miles into the stage.

The second stage the race really broke up but I stayed towards the front and after the decent of Wild Horse Mesa the group shrank to around 25. When the race turned back towards Ft. Bayard I attacked on the climb at the 60 mile point to shed riders but the headwind was strong enough that it favored a group so I let up. With around five miles left a couple riders slipped away. Just outside 1 km to go I was sitting in 7th wheel, there was an ease in the pace and I attacked. I had a good jump and with a tailwind in the finishing straight I was hoping to keep them at bay but the group caught me just before the 200 meter sign. I jumped up from 32 to 20th on the GC after the stage.

Stage 3 & 4: The time trial wasn’t nearly as windy as last year and it was one of my better efforts against the watch. I moved up to 16th on the GC. The criterium had two strong breaks during the stage which strong the main chase group out but I just did the minimal amount of work to stay with the group. I missed the crash in the last lap, however the second-place finisher on the stage dropped me a place in the GC.

Stage 5: Coming into stage 5 I was 5:23 off the race lead and 1:56 out of the top 10. My goal coming into the race was a top 10 finish so it was a bit borderline if it would happen. Last year my experience of being in the day’s break on the Gila Monster Stage helped me to decide on my tactic for the day. I thought I would have my best chance of success if I did no work until the 85 mile point at the base of Wild Horse Mesa.

I didn’t worry when the first group went up the road three miles into the race which contained three riders ahead of me in the GC or at the 55 point when 2nd , 4th , and 6th on GC attacked. I sat on the back of the group for 85 miles and waited. I put all my eggs in one basket so I could only do one thing.

Before the start of the race I rode the climb four times so I knew every corner of it and drove the rest of the stage finish twice. At the base of the climb the follow car gave us a gap of 4 mins to the group which apparently combined into one 7 man group by Lake Roberts. We turned the corner and got to the front and rode at 300 watts and just went for broke.

By the finishing straight in Pino Altos I had the lead follow car in sight and was still closing coming in 1:11 behind the stage winner. In the process, I finished fifth on the stage and pulled myself up to 9 th on the GC.

Which coach do you work with and how did your training help you prepare for the event?

I work with Adam Mills. He had me doing lots of riding between the 2 ½ – 3 ½ hour rides on the trainer with steady state and threshold work since I am a college student in Wisconsin. Once I could consistently get out on the road with a month to go he had me doing some longer 3 ½ hour rides on the weekend with shorter efforts and tempo rides between 2-3 hours during the week.

Looking back through my workouts I averaged about 12-13 hours a week. At the very end, I did two five hour rides which prepared me well for the longer stages. I also used the Joe Martin Stage Race for training which can’t be replicated either on the trainer or by yourself.

What advice do you have for someone up and coming in your cycling discipline?  

Think Positive- Don’t let anyone doubt your ability, if you believe in yourself you are halfway to success.

What is your next event?

La Crosse Omnium

Best of luck Thomas! You are on your way to continued success this season!

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