Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator Coffees lined up for the Mount Hamilton classic with the weighty responsibility of two time defending champions (2012 Tyler Brandt, 2013 Shawn Rosenthal). Their basic plan was to stick together as much as possible and then capitalize on their strengths in the second half of the race. They rolled out of San Jose under sunny skies while bracing for the hour of climbing ahead. The climb of Mt Hamilton can be divided into three sections that are separated by short descents. Thankfully the pace on the first two sections were, unlike last year, quite mellow with Chris HD and Kurt Wolfgang going up the road early. The first hour was spent enjoying friendly conversation and sipping OSMO as the break made a 2:30 gap on the field. However, things changed dramatically as attacks started to fly in the last 5 mile stretch of the climb.
Kirk Carlsen (Jelly Belly) and Max Jenkins (Marc-Pro Strava) were very aggressive and stretched the elastic before it finally broke with an excellent attack by Matt Rodriguez (the revelation of the day) of Davis Bike Club. His move forced a selection of that included Max and Kirk. The three quickly caught the break, adding Chris HD to their rotation - making it a group of 4. Meanwhile, TMB stayed true to the plan and stayed together with Roman riding a hard tempo to limit losses to the front group. Later analysis of the data from his Quarq power-meter revealed an effort of 400 watts for the last 25 minutes of the climb. This effort was just enough to keep the breakaway of climbers within a minute but a pace that kept TMB intact. Over the summit, Roman, Colin, and Chris were together and trailed the leaders by about a minute. The deficit was quickly erased as the TMB boys carved hair raising turns with the help of S-works Turbo tires while maintaining perfect control using Sram Red 22 brakes equipped with Zipp carbon brake pads on the steep and technical decent. Near the bottom, TMB caught the leaders and shed all the other riders from the field. TMB now had 3 riders in 7. From this point there was still roughly 40 miles of rolling roads and headwind to the finish. The group would alternate between attacking each other and working cooperatively. The goal here was as before, we wanted to keep the boys together and keep Chris as fresh as possible for the sprint finish.
Max and Matt attacked the group over the last significant climb on the course and TMB made a decision to let them go. Once they got a 30 second advantage, Colin and Roman set about reeling them in. This task proved more difficult than expected. Finally they caught the duo with 6 miles of mostly descending to race. From this point, Colin turned himself inside-out riding on the front and chasing down attacks, which allowed Roman and Chris to conserve and prepare for the finish. The last 2k are extremely fast and the finish can catch many off guard. However, it was Colin who caught the others off guard when he got a gap in the last few corners, forcing Max to chase until 1K to go. With 300 meters to go, Roman opened up the sprint with Chris on his wheel who sealed the deal with a spring from 100 meters. Kirk Carlsen (Jelly Belly) was 2nd and Chris HD was 3rd. Roman and Colin finished 4th and 7th, respectively.