|Liam Chilling in Switzerland between August Tours|
It’s September -- the time of year for sitting back, taking
a deep breath and spending a little time reflecting on the past year’s road cycling
season. For Liam, 2016 was a transition
year. He started to step up both his
training and racing. It wasn’t so much a step-up in intensity or duration, but
more a change in focus and dedication. The
season produced some really great results and also some disappointments, but in
general, for the first time, Liam started to believe that he could be
competitive at the highest levels of the sport both nationally and
internationally. A lot of small steps eventually lead to leaps and bounds.
As his coach and father, I was pretty busy with what turned
out to be races and training at locations all over the world. That isn’t really an excuse, but I did fall
down on the job when it came to keeping up with it all on the blog. So here is a recap of some of the highlights
|Proud moment in Louisville, Ky- US National Championships |
The season started out hot with the kick-off of the local
Criterium d’Hiver series in January.
Liam got his first win of the season and also a 2nd
podium on consecutive weekends. He ended up winning the overall series and
winning the Trophee SITEC of AVC Aix for the second year in a row.
Training was going very well through early March, including
a week camp in Girona, Spain and an intense 4 days in France at a camp with the
Liam rolled into the
official season with a second place podium at an important race in Heyeres. The
early season form was fantastic, (now looking back)perhaps too good with too
much intensity too early.
In mid-March on
the morning of the first race of the Tour de Les Bouches du Rhone (a very
important race of the early season), Liam woke up with a sore throat and
He soldiered through and raced
anyway, but he had no power – it was a disaster in one of the races he had
marked as a top priority for the year.
was disappointing. The mysterious virus would plague Liam for almost two
He raced through this period with
some OK results, but in general this was a very frustrating part of the
By May, things started to turn around with a win at a big
race in Martigues. The win in Martigues put Liam in the virtual lead of the Tour
Des Bouches du Rhone. At the same time, he was in the lead and wearing the
yellow jersey of the Tour de Cotes d’Azur race series.
These were great results considering that he
had had such a tough start to the season.
|An impressive win in Martigues|
|Always good to be in the leader's Jersey!|
By early June, Liam’s power had returned to full strength.
He was able to get in some great training
blocks in the Alps and on Mont Ventoux.
He won a race in Mandelieu in the Cote D’Azur, and he was instrumental
in his team’s omnium win in the French interregional track championships that
|Late Spring training blocks in the Alps|
|Interregional French Track Champions 2016 |
|Riding off the front for the win in Mandelieu|
In late June, Liam returned to the United States for the US
National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky. It was his first official race
in his birth country. We took the opportunity to visit family in Tennessee and
get to know the local cycle scene for some training before the race. The
highlight of the trip was Liam’s third place bronze medal performance in the
Criterium championships in Louisville! Wow, that was really something.
|Bronze medal in the Criterium at the US National Championships|
We made the return to Europe in early July, and, immediately
upon our return, Liam headed up to Sittard, Netherlands for a three-week
development racing camp with USA Cycling. At the camp, Liam trained with the US
National team and raced in the Karmesses (very competitive criterium style
races in Belgium) on the weekends. The
camp was incredibly beneficial for Liam’s development and maturity as a
cyclist. Hats off to Billy Innes and the
the folks at USA cycling – an incredible program! The weekend racing was fast
paced and technical. Liam came out of Sittard with several top 10’s and an
overall win in the Karmesse at Dilsen, Belgium. Liam’s win in Dilsen with the
team was definitely a highlight of the season if not his cycling career to date!
We finished up the season with two multi-day stage races in
The first of which was the six-day
Youth Tour in Assen, Netherlands.
our seventh year in a row in Assen.
for Liam, things have not gone so well with the racing in Assen.
Unfortunately, this time around was no
exception. There was a big peloton of 159 riders in Liam’s category. As a result
of the size of the field, small roads and terrible rainy weather (and to some
degree luck) Liam was involved in several crashes over the 6-day tour.
In fact, we joked around and called the Tour
experience “Crashen in Assen.”
have to get in your crash quota for the year, at least it is better to do it in
one race rather than several…
|Road Warrior- Liam after a particularly hard day on the road in Assen|
The next race on the calendar was the 4-day Tour de l’Ain. In the 64K point to point first stage of the
race everything came together for Liam. Liam broke away from the 130 rider
peloton 5k into the race. He was able to
hold off a charging peloton for 59k to hold onto 3rd place in the
stage. In the end, he and the other two riders who finished in the breakaway had
a 2 minute lead over the 127 riders in the peloton. It was a great performance that demonstrated a
lot of courage, tactics, and stamina—definitely another season highlight.
|Digging Deep - Break away in the Tour de L'Ain|
So that’s it in a nutshell… Another great season and
stepping stone along Liam’s Journey into the highest levels of cycling. Next year I’ll try to step it up with more
frequent and timely posts as things develop.
This is Bill and Liam signing out!