Article by Giancarlo Bianchi
What can I say? We came, we saw, we conquered.
I had such a great time at this event last year that I knew I wanted to come back but also knew that I needed guys I could count on to get results.
But what is Gateway cup?
Gateway is a 4 day crit series race held on different race venues throughout St. Louis. I had the pleasure of competing in this race last year with a former teammate and had an absolute blast. But what’s so special about this race? Well, I’ve been racing for 18 years and have been fortunate enough to race a few events throughout the nation and while I have not been to all of them, I will say something that made gateway cup unique was the community support around the event.
What do you mean GC?
Well, for example, our host house family was so lovely. Not only did they host a bunch of random cyclist in their house, they cooked us dinner, came to watch us race and even listened to us talk about the races themselves. But wait, there’s more! On the second day, the race held around Francis Park, I was fortunate enough to meet a gentlemen named Joe, hosting a cookout in his front lawn which was located along the course.
He offered me water and/or beer immediately following my race and even said to come over for food once I was all cleaned up. I wasn’t initially going to take him up on his offer until I realized that the food vendors at the race had already sold out of food. So I sheepishly went over to his house where he graciously showed me around, introduced me to his house guest and told me to fix myself a plate of food. He then sat down with me to hear some of my back story while we watched the pro’s men race together. The following day, the race on “The Hill”, I recognized a family I had met the day before at Joe’s and hung out with them after the race where they, once again, offered me beer, introduced me to their friends and listened to me talk about the race.
It was such a positive experience for me, because, normally when you go to a race, there’s no one there. The only people who show up are the racers themselves, and the only one’s cheering are the kids and wives of the guys racing. It really is no wonder why road cycling is dying a slow death but it’s nice to know that events like Gateway cup are doing it right and are still going strong after over 30 years.
Fast forward 8 months later
It’s May, and I just convinced my friends Alexander Gil and Andrew Geffner to do Gateway cup with me this year. Our friend Ozzy, who works at Cannondale had just accepted a job with them in L.A. and was planning on driving across the country. So I also convinced him to meet us at the event, where he would be instrumental to our success.
Gateway Day 1: Tour De Lafayette
I flew in to St. Louis around 4pm where Ozzy picked me up. Trouble was already afoot when he told me that Gil’s bike had still not been shipped (it was supposed to arrive the day before). Gil then lands about an hour later and the bike was still MIA. We were scheduled to race in about 2 hours time. When Gil arrived to the race site, both Geffner and I were already warming up. Ozzy had apparently driven to the fedex hub in Illinois to see if he could pick up the bike, but to no avail. Since all of Gil’s things were with his bike, it was looking like he might have to sit this one out. But we made the last minute decision to put Gil on Ozzy’s bike (which was 1 size too small), lend him Ozzy’s shoes (which did not fit him) and put him in a kit that Ozzy had (which I’m unsure was even clean). An hour later Gil sprints to a 3rd place, putting him on the podium.
Gateway Day 2: Tour De Francis Park
Gil, Ozzy and I spent the majority of our morning at the fedex hub in Illinois. They had assured Ozzy the day before that the bike was there but that either the sender or recipient needed to pick it up. So while we waited for them to locate the bike, we shared some good laughs and caught up on life. Finally we hear the phone ring by the security guard, he mumbles something then looks at us and gives us a thumbs up and a head nod ::REJOICE!:: Gil’s bike had been located.
After a quick sightseeing tour at the St. Louis arch, we head over to the race where Ozzy had built up Gil’s bike and had both Geffner and my bike waiting on our trainer’s. Our plan was to get Gil on the podium again which was momentarily derailed by a near crash for Geffner. Thankfully his bike handling skills saw him stay upright, but couldn’t say the same for the guys behind him. With 5 laps to go I found myself in a really good breakaway but was caught with about 1.5 laps to go. Thankfully Gil still had the legs to sprint for yet another podium finish, this time, 2nd place.
Immediately after the race, I found myself in front of Joe’s again, where, yes you guessed it, he was offering beer and water to the racers. I introduced my racing mates to the people I had met last year ate a nice dinner there while watching the men’s pro race
Gateway Day 3: GIRO DELLA MONTAGNA
Now, this was a big day for me. Deep down I knew I could do well here, but the competition was pretty fierce this year and no real breaks were really staying away. But it was a crit with a hill on it, so I had to give it a go. And a go I did, I forced moves, won a prime, and was even solo for a few laps. Our pizza kits were a fan favorite and every corner had people cheering for us,
“GO TEAM PIZZA!!!”
After being caught by the field and then countered by Geffner who was then also solo for a few laps, Gil was able to close the deal with yet another second place. This propelled him decent lead in the omnium as well.
Gateway Day 4: Benton Park Classic
The last day is probably the most technical course. It had 10 turns in 1.6 miles. I made sure we all did an easy lap in between races to scope it out and I told Gil where the danger moves were. As we warmed up, we watched the masters race and how it was a good course for a break. Since Gil just had to worry about winning the overall, it was up to both Geffner and I to get a result. The race started and Geffner was marking moves, then when the bell for the prime came I forced a move that I later broke away from, giving me an easy “win” for the prime. I had a pretty good gap at that point that I decided to keep it going. I proceeded to solo for about 6 laps, earning the fan favorite award,
“GO PIZZA GUY!!!”
But it again was not meant to be and Gil was once again able to sprint to a 3rd place, landing him on the podium and cementing his omnium lead. Did I mention I love racing with this guy?
The 3 musketeers + d’artagnan (aka Ozzy) were able to defeat a field of nearly 100 guys over the course of the weekend. So thus, I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that it was an successful weekend and I hope to be able to do it all again next year. Special shout out to Gil’s wife, Ale and baby Thor for their company and encouragement throughout the weekend.