Valley of the Sun Stage Race (E3)

Stage 1: Time Trial

Not really much to comment on here. I got a good 45min warm up, and didn't really know what power to target since it was the first TT of the season, so I went out a little conservative and slowly increased the power. Ended up in 2nd place, 6 seconds behind the winner and my power was 365W normalized for 31 mins. Jason and Michael were also in the top 10 and in contention for the overall win.

Stage 2: Road Race

TMB was the only team with more than 3 riders, and the leader only had 1 other teammate, so our strategy going in to this race was to be aggressive and get either me, Jason or Michael into a break by attacking and counter attacking a lot, but not until mid-race or later. The first 2 laps were pretty uneventful, and there were a few small breaks/solo attempts but none ever looked dangerous. There was lots of talking amongst the peloton and it became clear the 4th lap was the time people were looking to break away. Right before the climb on the 4th lap, two guys got away and quickly put time into the group, everyone was looking to TMB to chase, but instead of dragging the whole field, Jason attacked to try and bridge, I followed the wheels that chased him and immediately countered. The peloton was pretty tired at that point, so I'm guessing they didn't really want to chase and figured 1 guy wasn't worth it. I had to do ~380W for 4 minutes to catch the two off the front and when I finally made it, I skipped a few pulls to recover then started to rotate through. The three of us worked really well and quickly started putting more and more time into the main group (the rest of TMB was doing a great job of blocking any bridge attempts and slowing the group down). We also passed the Cat 2 field which helped put us out of sight. We were away for one full lap, and at the base of the final climb, one of my break-mates attacked and neither I or the other guy could respond. I knew I had a minute on him from the TT, so in order to take the leaders jersey, I just had to make sure he didn't get too far ahead. I buried myself (with no help from the remaining rider) and ended up finishing 2nd with 6s of padding between me and 2nd place in the GC. Michael Kurnik managed to get into a small chase group and snagged 5th.

Stage 3: Criterium

Going into the crit, GC was between me and 2nd place (3rd was significantly further back). The time bonuses for final placing in the crit were 10,6,4 seconds, so all I needed to do to make sure the guy in 2nd didn't get top two. My plan was to just stick on his wheel, and from the start it was obvious he was going for the win. Anytime I slipped a few wheels back from him, he would attack. The race was very fast and strung out, so the rest of TMB weren't able to help chase, which put the burden on me to bring back his various attempts to get away. On top of that, it seemed like he made a deal with another team who were doing all they could to physically push me off his wheel. The last 2 laps, I was in decent position and was able to latch on to 2nd's wheel. I held it during all of the frantic last lap and in the last two corners, he was able to gap me, but we were both 20 wheels back so when I saw him sprinting out of the last corner, I figured he was so out of position that he wouldn't get top 2. Lesson learned. Instead of watching him sprint away I should've given everything I had to stay with him. My assumptions got the best of me and he ended up in 2nd place for the crit, which gave him a 6s time bonus and put us equal on time for GC. The race officials had to go back to the hundredths of seconds from our time trial and he was .2 seconds ahead of me, putting me in second overall. It was a heartbreaking way to lose, but now I have some perspective it was a great learning experience and a perfect warm up for Chico. I couldn't have asked for better teammates — those guys really were instrumental in my GC placing. Thanks guys!

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