Apologizing for not speaking the sharpest English, 21-year-old Moritz Malcharek of Germany searched for the right word to describe the finish of the Pro 1/2 Men’s race on Thursday to conclude the 26th running of Food, Folks & Spokes around Library Park.
His diction may not have been perfect, but Malcharek chose the perfect word.
“In the end, it was a lot of ... hectic,” he said, searching for the word he wanted. “Hectic is the right word?”
It sure was.
Malcharek was part of a group of nine riders that lapped the field to create a chaotic pack over the final laps in which it was impossible to identify who was in front and who had been lapped.
In the end, Malcharek — racing for LKT Team Brandenburg — broke free at the end in a furious sprint to edge out Australia’s Matthew Rice (Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) and Travis Wold of Wellesley, Mass. (New England Devo p/b Cadence Wealth Management).
This is Malcharek’s first trip to the United States, and it was a perfect way for him to kick off the 11-day Tour of America’s Dairyland that began in Kenosha and concludes June 30 in Wauwatosa.
“One guy from our team was (here) last year, and he said it was very nice,” Malcharek said. “After the tour we have the European Championships, and so that’s my progression for the Europeans.”
As usual, the riders set a blistering pace in the criterium race, with the flat oval track an invitation for racers to practically sprint the entire 90 minutes.
Riders averaged around 28 miles per hour and cranked it up to around the mid-30s during sprints. The race is timed to last 90 minutes. The riders have their pace calculated for approximately the first half of the race to determine how many laps they’ll ride to finish within the allotted 90 minutes.
On Thursday, that number turned out to be 35.
With about 30 laps remaining, the lead break of nine riders coalesced, and they simply kept breaking away from the rest of the field. With about 16 laps left, they caught the pack and lapped the field.
“I wasn’t sure about it until one of the American guys said, ‘Do you want to lap the field?’” Rice, 19, said when asked if the lead break wanted to lap. “I was like, ‘Yeah, all right, let’s go.’”
That decision changed the race and was a wise one for Rice, who had a cachet of seven Australian teammates from Pro Racing Sunshine Coast. With Rice in the pack, he had plenty of help to keep him on pace with the other eight riders who had also lapped the field.
“They helped out huge,” Rice said of his teammates. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”
But Malcharek had teammates in the field, too, and one in particular helped out in a huge way.
With the lead riders jockeying in the pack to gain position for the final lap, Malcharek’s KLT Team Brandenburg teammate Henning Bommel — who was not among the nine lead riders — sacrificed his own positioning and burned all his energy to give Malcharek a draft.
Bommel then fell out of the pack with a lap left having done his job to boost Malcharek to the finish.
“He (went) off on front so I could go easy, and I could take a good sprint in the end,” Malcharek said.
He did just that, nipping Rice and Wold in a near-photo finish.
“I was pretty sore coming through for the last few laps after taking a lap with the breakaway, but I just hung in on the sprint and tried to follow some wheels for second place,” Rice said.
Peta Mullens of Australia captured the Pro 1/2 Women’s race, finishing ahead of England’s Harriet Owen and Nat Redmond of Lambertville, N.J.
Mullens was racing for Roxsolt Attaquer, Owen for Hagens Berman/Supermint and Redmond for Fearless Femme Racing.
Other winners Thursday were Kody Babler (Milwaukee) in Category 4/5, Yurii Morozov (Cupertino, Calif.) in Category 3/4, Robert Rutscher (Stillwater, Minn.) in Category 2/3, Erin Ayala (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) in Category 3/4/5 Women, Bart Clifford (Thousand Oaks, Calif.) in Masters 50+ and Mark Ledo (Canada) in Handcycle.
The Tour of America’s Dairyland continues today at the East Troy Cycling Classic.