In the photo: Jungho Kim
With a nearly 40-strong field including several heavy hitters in it and only Danny, Tony and Jungho at the Land Park Criterium our options were limited. The stated goal was to set up Jungho up for a field sprint with the exact plan to be determined during the race after we could evaluate how the blustery wind would affect the proceedings. To do that we needed to make sure that no break got away without us in it and if it did we would need to shut it down quickly before it got out of reach for Danny and/or Tony to pull it back.
Due to the large number of riders and technical nature of the course position was paramount to having a successful race. We expected the accordian effect to be a major player in sapping the power from those who were caught at the back for any considerable length of time. It was also important to experiment with different lines and positioning thoughout the race to unlock the secret to conserving energy and maximizing efficency coming into the last laps.
There was a cross-headwind from left to right on the long finishing straight that would slow the race down each lap as riders looked to shelter. It soon became a near tailwind after a fast flowing right hander into the equally long run down to the technical section with a near 180 degree left hand turn into a tight medium speed right. After a left hand bend in the road the race was hit with a block headwind leading into the final right-left chicane just before the long (300m) sprint to the line.
As expected a few dangerous attacks came in the first half of the race but Danny was able to help cover nearly all of those moves and keep the race together. Perfect for Jungho who was able to use Tony's wheel to move up when they were nearby and sit in without worry as the race stayed together for the duration.
With three laps to go Danny and Jungho synced and stayed in touch towards the pointy end of the developing race. Coming into two to go they knew that the field would predictably swarm on the final straight as nobody wanted to pull into the headwind – their goal was to be part of that swarm the penultimate time across the line and move up the right side of the road on the back straight where it was sheltered from the wind by trees.
Perfect execution would have delivered them both to the technical part of the course in the top 10 wheels and then go full gas to be top 5 through the chicane.
But in racing things rarely go as planned. The TMB Development train stalled briefly as a rider started to drift into their line and pushed them up against the curb as they were making their move – the result: Danny and Jungho were 15th into the technical section and coming out of it Danny had expended his last match. Jungho closed a gap to the rider in front as the leaders front of the group predictably sat up in the block headwind before the chicane as nobody wanted to pull for someone else. Preserving his momentum coming from behind Jungho moved easily to 5th wheel into the final turn complex.
Seeing several riders who had dumped their watts too early fizzle out Jungho was in a good but slightly vulnerable position with just over 200m to go and no more wheels to follow. In a moment of hesitation of whether or not to go a rider jumped from directly behind him as another came on the inside as the sprint opened up fully. It was a close competition and crossing the line third TMB Development was still able to come away with a solid result, all down to some solid teamwork.