By Dana Williams As a team we went into the P12 race with just three riders; myself, Brandon Trafton and Travis Lyons. Our main goal was to try to get Travis the win. He is a Cat 2 rider looking to upgrade to Cat 1. Brandon and I were happy to do what we could to help him collect valuable points. Both Travis and I had won a race on this course in prior years; I believe mine was the Cat 2 race two years ago and Travis in the 2/3 race last year. We talked prior to the race and realized our wins had come in similar fashion. We agreed that Travis stood the best chance of winning by having Brandon and I lead him out to an agreed upon critical point of the course, where he would start his sprint and go for the win.
There was a decent size field of around 40 guys, with one or two Cat 1 ladies jumping in for race experience, at the start. Red Peloton definitely had the biggest numbers with six or seven. From what I recall (results aren't up yet) Squadra and Olympic Club had three or four riders, MarcPro Strava and a number of other teams had two, followed by lots of solo riders. The three of us decided that we would play a more defensive role in the race based on the fact that it was Travis' second race of the day, plus we could rely on Red Peloton and other teams to chase if they weren't represented in the break.
The course isn't very technically; basically a 350 meter front and back straight away with a 100 meters on each end. Turn 1 to 2 is more like an semi circle while turn 3 to 4 has a little convex bend in it. The whole back stretch was a climb of around 2%, except for a little 50 meters 5% kicker at 200 meter. There was also a head wind. Out of turn 4 (start of the start/finish straight away) was a little 5% downhill ramp, where it then flattened out for 75 meters before the start/finish line, and then continued to turn one.
It didn't take long for guys to start attacking. I'm not sure what Red Peloton's plan was but if I was in their advantageous position, consistently throwing guys off the front would seem to be a good move. Brandon and I were doing a solid job of marking dangerous moves. At around 30-35 minutes into the race a break of 10-12 guys formed. Brandon and I were both in it but unfortunately Travis was not. In general the break was working pretty well together, with the occasional attack. Brandon and I wanted Travis to be in it so we decided we would rotate through when our turns came, without accelerating, in hopes that Travis would bridge up.
Travis ended up in a chase with four or five other riders. The gap between us bounced between 20-30 seconds for quite a while. Finally, with around 15 minutes to race, Travis and the others in his break bridged up. We were now 15-20 riders. It was now time to execute our plan. The only hitch is that Travis told me he was feeling some leg cramps and wasn't sure if he could sprint at full strength. I told him to sit in and see how things felt towards the end. On the third las lap, Brandon and I moved to the front. We rotated and set a good tempo. Travis soon found my wheel as we ended the second to last lap. Right around this time, Will Riffelmacher of the Olympic Club shot off the front in a last ditch effort to stay away. We didn't panic, kept the pace going and were able to bring him back on the back stretch.
As we crested the short 5% pitch, Brandon on the front followed by me, I looked behind and realized Travis wasn't there anymore. He would later tell us a hamstring cramp snuck up on him which ceased his effort to stay with us. It wasn't a time where we could sit up and wait as guys were nipping at my back tire like a hungry pack of wolves. It was time for 'Plan B'. Brandon dug a little deeper and got me to turn three. Guys started to swarm me so I couldn't wait any longer. I saw a little gap between two riders, stood up and sprinted. I looked back and had a little gap. I knew I had to give it all to keep away from the 'hungry dogs' chasing me down. I exited turn four in the lead and pushed hard, all the way to the line. Time was on my side and I was able to raise my hands, in celebration of getting my first win of the year. It was even more special because my wife and two boys were there cheering me on.
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