The famed Berkeley Hills road race was sure to be a challenging day on the bike. Gathered around the TMB Toyota Sienna, Roman outlined a dynamic team strategy that accounted for numerous race situations, with the ideal case being two or more TMB riders in an escape with an engine to drive the move and a climber to seal the deal.
Team Mike's Bikes p/b Equator Coffees took the start resplendent in our Capo Custom kit and decked to the nines with our arsenal of Zipp wheels. Most opted for the Firecrest 404 carbon clincher and a few climbers decided to run either 202 or 303 tubulars.
The race started frenetically with a long gradual downhill that saw many riders attack, only to be find themselves spun out at terminal velocity and quickly reabsorbed by the juggernaut of the peloton. As the course turned and became more undulating, Nate English powered away from the field with two others.
This early move was short lived, but it created a sizable split in the field with nearly 20 riders breaking clear with Craig Fellers and Max Korus joining Nate at the pointy end of affairs.
Over the top of the first hill the field was all together again, we then charged hard through the feed zone and over the top of the finishing climb. The long and fast descent was a welcomed reprieve and the peloton regrouped coming into the close of the first lap.
While most were enjoying the respite, Roman put in a dig and drew out a reasonable group with representation from all of the major teams. Colin Daw and the other attentive TMB riders were at the front and content to let the move roll, and in fact encouraged it by setting a false tempo. But nothing is ever that easy, and when Herbalife sent a second rider into the group, Max jumped across as well to keep the numbers balanced.
This would become the early break, the late break, and ultimately the winning move. What began as a group of 10-12 was relentlessly whittled down thanks to the grueling course. With a few laps remaining, the group was reduced to Roman, Max, Chris HD, Torrey Phillip, and Josh from SoCal. The clear advantage was with TMB, and Roman went to work forcing the break to chase his attacks, gifting Max a relaxing ride sitting on their wheels.
Max struck out on his own with just over a lap and a half to go, but the break was alert to the danger and worked to real him back. It was not until the penultimate ascent of the finishing climb that the real fireworks went off, and they did in spectacular fashion. Chris HD put in a searing attack with 300m to the top and he quickly had a sizable gap. Max, Roman, Torrey, and Josh were looking at each other and no one was doing anything to limit the damage going over the top of the hill. It was clear most were on the rivet, and in an easier said than done moment, Roman shared this insight "Max, you need to go across to him."
HD was thrashing on the pedals and laying the power down, but Max proved equal to the challenge and demonstrated that while aero may not always be everything, when it comes to supertucking, it is! Astride his Venge with 404 clinchers shod with some of the fastest of S-Works Turbo rubber and protected by the aero Evade helmet, Max was able to bridge solo on the descent to HD, who was surprised to find himself with company.
The two traded turns, but Max didn't want the escape to distance Roman and the chasers by too much, that way HD would be forced to continue to work. As the two entered the rolling section of the course Max attacked, but couldn't get away from a flying HD. Coming into the finishing climb, Max took a dig again and this time managed a convincing separation. It looked promising, but HD was not to be denied, and he clawed his way back to Max's wheel and ultimately overtook him to secure the win with Max holding on for 2nd in front of the chasers, and Roman finishing 4th.
The greatly reduced field sprinted in shortly thereafter with Chris Riekert, Craig, Nate, and Colin peppering the top 15 in a finale that was a blur of TMB colors with no other team showing such strength in numbers.