One of the bigger races on the calendar, TMB Development entered the Winters Road Race with a strong squad, intent on shaping the race in our favor. After the flag dropped we instantly got a man up the road. Theo forged ahead selflessly on a solo mission, enabling the team to sit in amongst the wheels and direct the situation from there. Hoping for a bridging move to make their way up front, offering a free ride for another of our riders. The race was cagey and multiple efforts were made to form a chase group that might get across to Theo but nothing had the right composition and after the race’s climb (about 17 miles into the 24 mile lap, 4 laps making the day’s parcours) everything was back together.
More attacks came and went as the break tried to establish, and after multiple moves that had nucleated off the front seemed to for whatever reason not solidify and make progress, consistency paid off and I managed to get up the road with another single rider. There were still 50 miles to race (out of the 96 total) so hanging it out there, hoping for a bridge, was the preferred play. After about 25 minutes myself and my breakaway companion, to our satisfaction, were joined by two other riders. One from a third team and the other from my original breakmate’s squad. This worked well, the two riders on the same team had a plan, with one working hard and going all-in for his teammate. We plowed on jettisoning one of the pair after his shift had finished, leaving us with an apparent 3 minutes on the group with about 30 miles left to race.
The trio I was in worked with focus and dedication to keep our gap, hoping that the chase behind would either not materialize or come too late. As we climbed the race’s major climb for the fourth and final time, cramping was evident in all its glory. We’d been racing for about 90 miles and I could feel my legs on the verge of a cramp-induced spasm. Keeping calm I eased off a little, focused on a steady power and climbed using as much force as possible. Daylight had opened up between me and the two others in my group, but I wasn’t ready to quit. I knew that my legs could come round as it was cramps and not exhaustion doing the damage. A concerted effort to climb out of the saddle (not using cramped up hamstrings) got me to the top of the climb only 20 seconds behind my break mates. All that was left was a short technical descent followed by 7 miles flat run in to the line. I got down the hill taking risks where I could and set a pace on the flats as best as possible, knowing I could manage a good speed to the line on the flats and hoping that perhaps the leading two riders might ease off or play cat and mouse. It wasn’t to be. Although I was able to ride in clear of the peloton, doing the run-in of the race alone, the catch eluded me, causing me to finish about 30 seconds after the winner had crossed the line, and about 30 seconds ahead of the chasing pack.
Although disappointed to miss out on going for the win, it was phenomenal to watch the pack charge in behind me. Chris, who had been sitting in the main field representing test team whilst we had a rider in the break, sprinted from the pack, narrowly missing on taking the chasing bunch sprint, but doing enough for 6th on the day. All in all, a great team race with TMB Development taking 3rd and 6th and happy to have played our cards. Tough race, excellent course and a nice way to wrap up the season in our last major team target.