Union City is a long-running race in Atlanta, and this year was done by UGA Cycling. The last two years I've done it, the weather was cold and rainy, and the peloton was tiny. This year's good weather brought out large numbers of racers.
This race is traditionally put on by Spincycle, but I believe there were some issues with payments to the USAC in previous years (that's just hearsay), so the race was officially presented by UGA Cycling and accordingly included collegiate races.
I knew there would likely be issues with this race because all the categories of racers, including collegiate categories, were scheduled to be on the course at the same time. Each peloton was scheduled to go off every five minutes starting at 9am.
When I got to the race there were two loooong lines: one for registration, one for the bathroom in the police station (the porta potties were out of commission: one was full, and the other didn't close all the way). I was preregistered, and that line actually moved through quite quickly. I think the reason for the lines is that all the races started so close together, so all categories of racers arrived around the same time.
The races went off right on time, which is always nice and never goes unappreciated by me. The course is a nice one too - never quite flat, rolling. For a race I prefer very hilly and hard, but this course is better for littler guys like me than some of the flattest courses, like Blue Goose or Brooks. It's just hilly enough to cause some natural culling of the peloton.
We hit one of the hills on the back side of the course pretty hard which broke the peloton apart a bit - which always makes me happy. Then, unbeknownst to the peloton, disaster struck. We didn't have a lead vehicle and were following the race signs on the road, so instead of going straight which we were supposed to do after one lap, we followed the signs and went right, and so ended up doing an extra lap. The race was supposed to be 41 miles long, so at around 43-44 miles everyone started wondering aloud, "did we miss a turn or something?" and eventually realized we were doing a second lap.
At the moment I was happy about that too, because all the sprinters might be a little more tired, but what I didn't realize is that the dropped riders took the correct route. Which means the dropped riders actually finished ahead of the peloton, and filled out the top spots.
Crazy day. After the race when everyone heard what happened you can imagine everyone was pretty fired up and angry. Everyone having to do the extra lap is one thing, but getting beaten by dropped riders is quite another. Especially considering the race wasn't chip timed.
It took them a long time to come to that decision, and it wasn't made by the race promoters but by the USAC officials, because it is the rider's responsibility to know the course. I agree that the rules should be followed and that it was the correct call, but I think the fairest ruling would be to put the dropped riders results after the peloton (I believe there was another peloton made up of dropped riders that came together later in the race as well).
So, that's the end of the flurry of spring racing in Georgia, filled with drama that only bike racing can bring! That said, here are some pics from the event - enjoy!