May 22 2022 was showdown date for the 5th edition of 1896CMRR, the first after the Covid-19 pandemic. In this years edition the event moved its race course to the Athens Riviera, the infamous Paraliaki – a long stretch of spiral coastal road that basically connect 2 ancient temples: the Acropolis Parthenon and Cape Sounio Poseidon.
For the Athenian cyclists the Paraliaki is a very well know training ground, the jewel of the local cycling scene and a really fast course with only 800 m of elevation, which means that it is a race of “one breath”, big gearing and fast cadence. As soon as we made public that the race will take place there, all talk was about the right gear ratio. And its true it made most of the difference.
For one more time interest in the event came from everywhere: Italy, Spain, Poland, Kalamata and Thessaloniki. People made plans, took time off and travelled to get involved in this little gig – we are so grateful for that. But is there still people riding track bikes like that? Can you find people spinning cadence on these dry heavy gearing? In these times of gravel frenzy and fat tyres is there still stoke for the skinny tyres and tight suits?
Race day: the weather was perfect, 28 degrees and sunny, as the wind of the previous days was slowly dying out. Riders gathered at Acropolis to register and friends were there to greet and cheer warming up a really nice vibe that we all really enjoyed. Then the clock hit 15:00 and it was time to line-up.
This year the event was surely coloured by SCVDO team, our friends from Genova that travelled from Italy to race track bikes as a team one last time. As the line was getting filled with riders the question started to become if there would be any other group that can work together smart to claim podium against them.
And then it was 3,2,1 GO and the comfeti blew out to the air as the riders started riding down Sygrou towards the coast on a control pace for aprox 10 klm. Riding the control pace is not as easy as it sounds, riders are seeking placement and control of the pack. Bystanders were stoping and looking as the track peloton breezed through the beaches of Faliro and beyond. And it was just after Glyfada and Asklipiio where the second comfeti canon blew the control pace out of the picture and the pace was free.
First group was formed by ex-podium rider Yiannis Karagiorgos and Panos Dalas (ALFA Cycling) taking help from Fotis Gkonis (Efklis Kalamata) as they were changing turns dictating the pace of the group. The rest of the pack agreed and let them take them away. The pace was building up and riders at the back tucked in and stay at the dropbars “falling asleep” for a while to rest.
And as it happens in street racing it was an “outside” factor that shuffled the pack, when a limo at a traffic light made few riders go wide and some others were caught inside (most notably Filippos Athanasiou) loosing ground on what started to become a super fast race. Unlucky!
After the limo thing the leadpack is like this: SCVDO (always riding together as one), local shredder Yiannis Sfetsos tight together with Foivos Zaravinos, intervened and poked constantly by Giacomo Santi (UBM Italy) and the greek trio of Karagiorgos/Dallas/Gkonis at their back.
The rest of the riders unable to follow the pack have started to form their own groups, taking their own pace and helping each other as possible. The pack is split and the race is now in full swing, decisions are critical as the pace is fast and there is not much car traffic.
And it was another unimportant moment that made the change again. After a small downhill section the lead duo of Vito And Mikele accelerated unintentionally mostly due to their 50/15 gearing but it was left unanswered mysteriously and fatally by Sfetsos/Zaravinos as they just followed them 400 m behind for pretty much the rest of the way unable to work together to close the gap.
The most critical point of the race – as it was discussed many times beforehand – was the Katafygi climb. Katafygi is a 2klm climb 5klm before the finish line with a mediocre ascending grade. Whoever read that correctly should have made a move there. If played smart anyone with a lower gear could very easily counter attack the front and gain significant advantage or even overturning the race and gain the lead.
And that was the picture as the SCVDO duo hit the first grade of the climb. Its hot and dry and the climb starts eating up their momentum as the legs struggle a little to push those 50/15 sprockets uphill. They instantaneously both turn their heads to look back only to find out Sfetsos/Zaravinos are on their hunt… consistently 400m behind them…
But is there time to catch them?
And as we all expected an attack from the back someone shouts: “VAI! – VAI!” and they both pop out of their saddles simultaneously, head looking front holding tight to the drops – and right there and then the race was decided as SCVDO scraped off all the energy left in them and with superb team work reached the top of the climb as the attackers were zooming out of sight.
It was a perfect moment of street track racing beautifully orchestrated and it will stay with the history of this race. After that it was a breeze towards the finish line, all downhill and as the checkered flag appeared in the distance the adrenalin was flying – and SCVDO from Italy claimed the podium of the 1896CMRR vol 5.
But it is not all just the front. A big warm congratulations to all participants that gave this superb vibe to the day. A well deserved mention should be given to first Female Category winer ever on the 1896CMRR and that is Olga Seferli with a really decent time, setting a high standard for the future. We would love to see more girls with the same spirit like Olga. It is also Filippos Athanasiou and Argyris Dinopoulos that need an honourable mention for the Master Category.
And as the last riders went past the flag it was time for beers, music and… beach podium. A recent tradition of 1896CMRR that we fully embrace and continue.
1st: Vito Quincy (36klm/h)
2nd: Mikele Benvenuto
3rd: Foivos Zaravinos/ Yiannis Sfetos
1st F: Olga Seferli
King of Stoke: Matus Peniasko
Prizes presented by Cinelli, NoPeet, 48/17, Soma, Pelotan
Many many thanks to the guys at Blame The Sun Brewing that took care of the great after-party at the beach.
1896 CMRR Race Production Team:
Agi Kolyvas: Race Organizer // Dionysis Souliotis: Producer // Dinos Alvanos: Assistant Producer
Drivers: Vassilis Tsoumas, Mimis Angelopoulos // Volunteers: Merih Akman, Riccardo Bacani, Elena Redondo
Videographer: Filippos Parousis, Agi Kolyvas // Photography: Mike Paschos
Supported by Cinelli, Alfa Cycling Team, Blame The Sun Brewing