El Dorado Hills Town Center Criterium

April 27, 2014

After a leisurely morning, and with a cup of Equator TMB Speedblend coffee in hand, I arrived at the El Dorado Hills Town Center to meet a very unique and technical course. About 1.8km in length, the start/finish straight was long, narrow, and slightly uphill. About a quarter of the course was raced through parking lots, with a hard left coming out of a driveway at the top of the course, and an off-camber—quick—right-left before a straight 250m line to the finish. 

Representing TMB for the day would be Craig Fellers (who rode to a solid 3rd place the day before at Wente RR), Adam Switters, Roman Kilun, James LaBerge, Walton Bush, and myself. The idea was for everyone to start at the front and stay at the front, because moving up on this course would be near impossible. We knew that with Marc Pro having so many guys in the field, it would basically come down to a bunch of us and a bunch of them up the road. This is pretty much how it played out.

After three hot-lap primes at the start of the race, a break was established with 6 riders including Roman, James, three Marc Pro riders and Ryan Moore (Fresh Air-Focus). They had a 30 second gap, and back in the main field Marc Pro was attacking and counter-attacking left and right. Justin Rossi put in a dig at the top of the course, I covered it and looked back to see a good gap opened to the field. I had no reason to work with Rossi since TMB was already looking good in the break. After several laps of chasing, Rossi and I made the bridge. 

I moved up to the front to help Roman cover attacks so that James could rest to the finish. However, James ended up following a move put in by Moore, which was also covered by Matt Chatlaong (MarcPro). With 2 laps to go, coming around the quick chicane at the bottom of the course, we came upon Matt picking himself up off the ground after sliding out on the pavement. Marc Pro brought James and Moore back, and our group was all together with 1 lap to go. Marc Pro and TMB were now evenly matched, 3 versus 3 (not to mention a strong Moore). Going into 1 lap to go, Roman was on the front and I followed with James in tow.

With half of a lap to go, James shouted to warn us that Marc Pro was getting ready to make their move up the inside. Communication is key! Roman shut it down and kicked it into hyperdrive on the long downhill backstraight and into the two right-handers at the bottom of the course. I took the front before the last chicane, leaning hard on my S-Works Turbo tires (which held perfectly into the final two turns). Coming out of the final corner with James on my wheel and a slight gap behind him, I started my sprint. James sat up just before the line to give me my first P/1/2 win! He rolled in just behind me for 2nd place and Roman hung on to 4th place. Walton won the field sprint behind for 9th.

I’m so grateful to have such great teammates and incredible sponsors who all came together to make this day possible.