After some much needed rain the day before, the sky was clear for the classic Santa Cruz Criterium. This race is known to be windy, with a headwind in the finishing straight. With a decent hill coming into the finish line every lap and the wind stronger than usual, I knew it was going to be a dogfight to see who would come out on top. The team was going to be at the front and attentive the entire race while I waited for a breakaway to be established before bridging across to it.
The race started out fast as usual and guys were taking flyers left and right into the strong headwind while everyone else followed wheels behind in a single file. Local professional and former runner-up to Lance Armstrong at the Nevada City Classic, Ben Jacques-Maynes, attacked solo on the hill fifteen minutes into the race and Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator (along with other teams such as Clif Bar, Fresh Air, Airgas, and Marc-Pro) kept him within striking distance. Ten laps later he was brought back. Not long after, a large breakaway–Clif Bar, Ben Jacques-Maynes, and three TMB: Roman, Craig, and Chris–got a small gap. According to plan, I bridged across on the backside of the course, where there is no wind, and made the junction by the time I got to the top of the hill.
Looking back, I noticed we had a decent gap, so I yelled to Roman to keep the pace high. Nevertheless, a few laps later, Travis Lyons and a few other riders got across and it turned into a nineteen man "breakaway". Many small moves went off the front of this group and got reabsorbed before we came into the final five laps of the race.
It was looking to be a reduced field sprint. With two laps to go Chris decides to take a flyer, making BJM go after him. The group eventually catches them coming into one lap to go. I rode the gutter with all it's cracks to get to the front where Chris turned it on again to keep the pace high. He did an amazing job taking it to the final corner where Roman took over to take me up the hill and into the finish.
Just a second or two before I wanted to jump, BJM sprints by for the finish! I had to counter and go a little early. He initially had a bike length on me but with such a strong headwind this was a difficult sprint, and the perfect opportunity for my aerodynamic Venge. Waiting for the last second to pop out was the right decision because I past him to win in the last fifty meters!
I would like to thank my teammates Roman, Chris, Craig, Travis, and the Masters Team for their hard work! We didn't design it to be a sprint finish but we adapted and came together as a team in the finish. I would like to also thank all of our sponsors for their support and for providing us their superior products to use throughout the season!