Bailey Overpowers Men’s Field at Longsjo Classic
WORCESTER -- Vermont native Bobby Bailey is known in cycling circles as a power sprinter, even at his advanced age of 38.
The way he goes to the well is almost like watching Lionel Messi toy with an opposing defense: It’s fiery, intense, and breathtaking all at the same time.
The way he pulled away in the last four laps of the Worcester Twilight Criterium was just as impressive as the way he tamed the old Leominster crit course four years ago, as Bailey stormed away like a rocket and held off Friday’s winner Curtis White and White’s teammate, Brad Huff, to claim the Men’s Pro/1/2 victory on the second day of the 55th Fitchburg Longsjo Classic Saturday evening.
“I thought I had it,” Bailey told race director Alan Cote in front of Worcester City Hall, “I definitely thought I had it, but then I looked back and saw Brad Huff off the front, and with one corner to go I looked back again and I thought, ‘Oh no. I’ve got to sprint.’ I saved a little bit and tried to kick it, and I think it worked. It was all about timing. ... I went for it.
“Brad’s working for Curtis, and I don’t know if I beat him straight-up, but my tactics worked great.”
White retained the Longsjo’s coveted yellow leader’s jersey with his second-place performance on the evening, as he stayed up near the front for a majority of the contest with Huff acting as his shield in order to maintain his hold on the points lead as he enters Sunday afternoon’s broiler for the annual Fitchburg Classic Criterium.
In a race which saw several DNF’s following some shattered corners in the southern end of the course, White had clinched the penultimate set of omnium points in fiery fashion, as he stormed right past 16-year-old Hopedale native Kevin Goguen and had issued a challenging bark toward his friend as he swept around him with five laps to go. Moments later, though, Bailey, in the mix for a majority of the night, went through the Worcester Public Library chicanes and launched himself forward, catching White, Huff and the rest of them unaware.
As Bailey emerged at the top of Main Street with a strong head of speed, the former police officer immediately waved toodle-oo, building a six-second lead before extending it to nine ticks with three laps remaining in the race.
“Everyone was working for those points,” Bailey recalled of taking over, “and once they get the points, there’s generally a swelling; everyone has to take a breath. And at that point, I wasn’t doing much work, and boom, I had to go for it. If I get caught with three laps to go, I’m done, so there’s no point not to.
“It was the perfect time to get a gap.”
A two-man chase group of Dylan McNicholas and Kai Wiggins -- the latter with an impressive performance on this course a year ago -- attempted to keep Bailey within earshot at two to go, while Huff and White led the main group across the line and into the Pleasant Street corner.
The gap remained at nine seconds when Bailey took the bell, but a massive sprint at the end saw Bailey spill out from between the old courthouse and the Hanover Theater seemingly alone -- until Huff, White, and Co. followed only a couple of heartbeats later.
Bailey had plenty remaining in the tank to fly down the center of Main to clinch the victory and the 20 omnium points, with Huff backing off just before the line to allow White to pass him to claim the 15 omnium points for the second-place finish.
Four years ago in the first Leominster race following the event’s two-year hiatus, Bailey was an absolute beast: He had driven down to the Plastics City from the Burlington, Vt., area and claimed ownership over the old crit, churning out enough wattage to power Monument Square for a year as he built a solid lead over the rest of his fellow cyclists.
It was the same theory in the last four-plus laps Saturday.
“You have to go really, really, really, really hard, and not let yourself slow down,” he said. “It’s like in a car when you hit the red line, and the tach drops. Except in this case, you have to back off ever so slightly and bounce off the rev limiter and keep it.”