By Gavin Murray:
The 2018 racing season hit me in the face in a way that only cycling can do. The Marc Pro Cycling team training camp came quickly and left me with one day to go home and celebrate my birthday before flying out to the Dominican Republic the next day for La Vuelta Ciclistica Indepencia Nacional Republica Dominicana.
This race is significant because it is the first race on the Marc Pro Racing Calendar. More significantly, I personally found this event particularly momentous because it was my first official race as a member of the Marc Pro Cycling Team.
We arrived in Santo Domingo two days before the race started, which gave the team an opportunity to adapt to the time zone and climate and pick a room. After a series of room shuffles we settled our 6 man crew into a dormitory with working AC, hot water, and a clogged shower drain (International racing can sometimes be characterized by a series of compromises). Our meals were provided, and each day we were accommodated with a similar variation of yuca mash, meat, and grains. I became particularly fond of the harina de avena that we had in the morning for breakfast.
Etapa 1 was a hot dog loop on an 11 mile circuit. The race length totaled 120 miles and 7,000’ of elevation gain. Quinten rolled an early brake that stayed away for the entirety of the race. I bridged later in the race with a group of 8ish riders. By the last lap the group had whittled down to 8 riders. Quentin gave me solid lead out but I obviously hadn’t eaten enough yucca and ended up 4th (still not a bad way to start off a stage race).
Racing didn’t get heavy for me until stage 3. The day started with an early break and we were well positioned with 3 riders in the lead group. However, the last 10km were filled with treacherous conditions. A deluge the likes unseen by us Californian’s slammed the final portion of the race. The sudden precipitation was enough to create a 2-foot puddle that obscured some pretty significant potholes and the peloton had a gnarly crash with multiple broken bits of bikes, bones, and spirits. I was relatively lucky to have escaped with minor scrapes. After a quick trip to the local hospital for 5 stitches and some iodine poured from a TREsemmé shampoo bottle, I was back to racing condition.
Stage 4 was a mixed bag for our team. Quinten rolled well and was just short of the podium, but unfortunately Boardman had a significant fall when one the riders in the field caused a crash near the front of the field. It becomes hard to distinguish when you should or shouldn’t race after a crash and I admire Boardman’s sensible decision to pull out of the race to err on the side of caution.
The final stage was intense from the start for our team. With Quinten in the leader’s jersey from the day before, we had some pressure on our collectively thin shoulders. The final day was as close to a crit as they come in Latin America. The final lap was characterized by some pretty massive carnage. Bodies went literally flying into trees, posts, and curbs in a way reminiscent of Mad Max. Quinten was narrowly out-sprinted in the end, placing second in the overall sprint competition with our team taking 2nd overall in the GC.
At the end our results were a good start to the season. However, our collective badges of road rashes, sunburns, and tan-lines made for memories that will act as a mortar for the foundation of the rest of the season, and I can honestly say that I couldn’t be more proud to be racing with these guys.