Last weekend’s Tri-Valley Classic promoted by the Red Kite series was part of the BikeReg Premiere Series, and therefore was sure to be action-packed with attacks from TMB and Marc Pro-Strava as leaders of the Series’ team points classification. The wind had picked up onto the wide open and square-ish course throughout the afternoon, causing peloton-splitting head and tailwinds on course. TMB was happy to have their Venges with 404s to take around the course. With the wind causing a serious tailwind into the final corner, the first through would surely take it to the line. This was crucial information. Another key factor was knowing a breakaway was going to win, and so TMB planned on following the wheels of Marc Pro man-to-man, making sure to keep the upper hand.
Attacks flew left and right in the first twenty minutes of the race, most notably from Chris HD (Marc Pro) and Willie (Marc Pro). Zeke Mostov (Hagens Berman) attacked through the start/finish line, with Jeromy Cottel (Specialized Masters) in tow. The two of them maintained a steady 20sec advantage for quite a while. A pack prime bell rang twenty five minutes into the race, which motivated Red Kite Omnium leader David Grundman (Team Sierra Nevada) to put in one of his trademark moves—a 53-11 wind-up, burning nearly everyone off his wheel. He took the omnium points prime, and in doing so, created a small selection of riders including: Rainier, Teeter, Erik Camacho (iRT-Reactor), and Luciano Sponza (VuMedi). This group bridged up to Mostov, and formed what would become the winning breakaway. TMB discussed the move in the peloton, and knew Rainier would fend well in the finish.
Back in the peloton, mind games were played between MarcPro, VuMedi, and TMB; each were trying to increase their presence in the breakaway. Eventually a group including Greg White (VuMedi), Chris HD, Marcus, and a few others broke free and gained an advantage over the field. Wind was blowing tree pollen, twigs, dirt, and debris all over the course, but my Smith Pivloc V2 MAX sunglasses kept my vision clear and eyes protected. Willie and I, after more mind games, made the bridge to the chase group, making contact with them about seven laps from the finish.
At the front of the race, with five laps to go Grundman attacks and Rainier follows. Grundman: "You got five laps in you?" Rainier: "I hope so," followed by laughs from Grundman. The spirit was jovial, to say the least. They traded pulls for a lap before world time trial medalist Mostov brought them back. The group would stay together for the remainder of the race, until Rainier made his move into the final corner, passing Grundman and railing hard on his S-Works Turbo 24c tires. He sprinted like a mad man, and won his first race in several years!
Back in the chase group, with two laps to go, I overheard SquadraSF's plan to send a flyer on bell lap in order to allow their other two riders to follow wheels to the finish. We’d see about that. Lo and behold, entering the final lap, Squadra’s Chris Evans attacked and got a gap. Chris HD and Willie moved up to chase. Into turn two, Marcus put in an attack that forced Marc Pro to lift the pace further. I fought for Willie’s wheel with VuMedi’s Alexander Freund, and was able to keep it from him. Into turn three, the gap to Evans was deteriorating and Chris HD kicked out of the corner. Willie took to the front about 50m from the final corner, swinging wide around Evans. I sprinted on the inside line on the right of Evans and held off Freund for 7th.
See more of Doug Pearl's pictures here.