PG&E Crit and Modesto RR

Posted: May 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

As I’m racing a lot, I’ve gotten a bit behind on my brogging, so I’m going to make it up here with a double.

PG&E Crit

I had a lot of trepidation going into this crit as I was nearly crashed out of Wente a couple of times the week before. Plus the timing of the race was also a factor as I didn’t want to be recovering from a crash on Mother’s Day.

The long and short of it was, nothing much happened during this crit. Sure the wind was a factor, a couple of breaks went and were pulled back, a minor crash happened just behind me, and I fought off all inclinations that I had for prime hunting, and a couple of guys chopped a corner or two, but all of that is totally normal. I worked pretty hard to make sure that I stayed towards the front of the group the whole race. After the second prime, I noticed a couple of pretty fast guys were off the front, so I tried to bridge, but the group was on to me and the break was pulled back. A Tri-Valley Velo guy took a couple of TT like efforts off the front, but he was pulled back each time.

On the last lap, just before entering turn 3, the wheel I was looking for came around me. I took a look to make sure there was room (there was) and I smoothly slid over to take the wheel. We accelerated on the outside of turn 3 moving toward the front. As we cleared the front of the field, my wheelman moved right to pick up a wheel of his own. I had no room to follow so I found myself in the wind for the last 400m. Oof; that one hurt. I got swarmed, of course, and finished 12th. A few more points for VSRT and hopefully better luck next time.

Modesto RR

Last year I spent the majority of the Modesto RR stressed out, regarding the wind, my fitness, the finish, etc… My intention this year was to try and stay calm. I had seen the race before, I knew about the crosswind sections, I understood the finish, I had a teammate who was going to work for me, all I had to do was not forget my shoes, and everything would be fine.

Well, I remembered my shoes, but forgot my bottles. Thank God for teammates as one handed me some Gatorade and the other handed me two bottles. Crisis #1 averted. I took my warmup under the team canopy on my trainer and then made my way to the start line. My teammate and I started analyzing the field as soon as we got assembled, noticing that Third Pillar had 7 guys, Los Gatos, FSB, and Taleo had 3 guys. We made sure to keep an eye on those teams as we wanted to be present in a break, if it was well timed. Also at the start line, I noticed that the finish had been moved to the dairy, ~700 m from the last turn and 400 m from the feedzone and just like that, our one man leadout plan went kaput. We tailgunned for the first couple of laps, a 2 man break got up the road (Taleo+Third Pillar). At the end of the 2nd lap, Taleo decided to attack the feedzone while I was mingling at the back. A small gap opened up and I made someone else (not a teammate) do the work to close the gap.

That was about it for the hard riding, until just before the last lap began. I had been spending my time chit-chatting with the Third Pillar sprinter, and I decided that his was the wheel I wanted for the sprint. With about 10 miles to go, my teammate reminded me that it was time to stop sharing chocolate chip cookie recipes and start racing. Shortly after that, I locked onto the wheel I wanted and stayed there. At about 4 miles to go, we caught the remaining rider left in the break. Immediately, a Taleo rider attacked. The whole field chased. As we were being strung out, I temporarily lost my man’s wheel. My teammate, who was protecting me from the wind, accelerated, I made sure to tell him that I was on his wheel, and he dropped me off at the Third Pillar sprinter’s wheel. He then continued his acceleration and went off the front with his traditional, last lap, suicidal, solo, breakaway.

When I saw that he was getting a good gap, I wanted to go to the front and block for him, but he had absolutely forbade me from doing that. Plus, the gap he created forced others to chase and waste their energy, while I was comfortably sitting in, waiting for the sprint. With ~1km to go, the Third Pillar train wound it up. Around the last corner, I was third wheel, and figuring that I was in real good position, but wishing I had one more guy in front of me. With about 400 m to go, Third Pillar’s leadout man pulled his foot out of his pedal. The sprinter and I checked right, and moved past him safely. With ~200m to go, the sprinter faded and I passed him, but now I was leading out the sprint for the whole field :(. At this point, I just gave it all I had. I started to get passed by people with ~100m to go and was able to hold on for 9th. A good result, but like the week earlier, luck seemed to play a bit more of a role than legs, but that’s bike racin’! And as far as my teammate, we caught him with ~500m to go :(. He was awesome the whole day and I hope I can pay him back sooner rather than later.

Interesting (to me) that two days later, stage 2 of the ATOC finished with a field sprint of ~700m from the last turn to the line. Team Sky delivered Ben Swift to the line perfectly with 3 leadout men. I only had 2…lesson learned.

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