In the photo: Tom Van Pelt
Written by Tom.
The race began – as races always do – in the weeks leading up to the 8:15 starting line. Someone from the e4 squad instigated the “race conversation” with the usual questions: who’s signed up? who’s targeting the race? has anyone raced the course before?
With these usual inquiries clarified it comes down to business: what’s the team’s strategy?
TMB had the largest e4 sign-up of any team with five riders out of a thirty rider field, which included Mikal Davis, Trevor Gilmore, Trevor Niblock, Aaron Garcia and myself. We were familiar with the majority of the other riders: including strong guys from Cycle Sport, Dolce Vita, and CA Technologies – so we knew that we had to use numbers to our advantage.
The e4 squad has found that complex plans go to hell in a hand basket the second another team or rider decides to enact their own strategy – so we knew that simplicity was key. We decided on a role-based strategy of having me serve as team sprinter and the rest of the boys covering attacks at the front, conserving energy, and leading me out for the sprint victory.
The start of the race didn’t go exactly as planned. A slow start from the field and quick jump from Aaron saw him off the front for about half of the first 24-mile lap. Once he was absorbed the next lap and a half followed a pretty standard e4 format: the field rolled at a slow pace, avoiding the many potholes on the course, while several unsuccessful attacks went off the front only to be chased down by one of our boys and reabsorbed into the field.
With just over a lap to go a PenVelo rider and a junior got into a break that we felt needed to be shut down. Although PenVelo was weak, the junior had fooled us on Hensley Lake RR on a late break and had robbed us of a key podium – that wasn’t about to happen again. Aaron put in a great effort to shut it down while Trevor Niblock and Mikal Davis led me from my cushy position in the back of the field up towards the front. With about 10ks to go the TMB team lined up in a perfect lead out train with Trevor Gilmore up front, followed by Mikal, Aaron, Niblock and myself.
Trevor Gilmore picked up the pace and lead from the front into the 2k marker – setting a pace that was impossible for anyone to break from. At that point Mikal Davis – TT powerhouse and recent winner of the Chico Stage Race– laid down the hammer. With 1k to go he pulled to the right and Aaron continued the blistering pace at the front, driven on by Niblock’s orders and jockeying with a PenVelo rider on his left and Jason from Cycle Sport rider on his right. Aaron pulled off and Niblock delivered me into the 200 meter mark at which point I launched my sprint.
I put down the pedals as best I could, but Jason (from Cycle Sport) and another rider were right on my wheel. It was neck in neck to the finish and ultimately I placed third with Jason in first. TMB also got three in the top ten with Trevor Gilmore in 6th place and Niblock in 10th place.
Although I felt great disappointment in not securing the win for the team, I nevertheless have great pride in the TMB squad and our excellent communication, organization, and execution of a solid plan. When we ride as a cohesive team we look good, support one another, and improve. The rest of the 2017 season is continuing to look bright for the TMB e4 squad!