The day after Snelling road race was the Merced Criterium. The Merced Criterium course has all sorts of chicanes, rough pavement, reflectors, sharp corners, and even shoots through a tight alleyway. Add to that the presence of Rally Cycling (formerly Optum), and this race promised to be fast and aggressive. The TMBEquator squad included Roman, Chris, Reese, Cam Piper, and Garrett.
As expected, the race started fast, with plenty of attacks flying one after another. Roughly a third of the way into the 60 minutes race, Roman, Reese and Chris were able to make it into the front leading group of about a dozen riders. Garrett and Cameron made a hard chase to get to the front group with a huge amount of help from team Herbalife. Willie Myers, the sprinter for Herbalife, had also missed the split, which allowed Cam and I to sit back a bit and allow Herbalife to give us a ride to the front group.
Attacks immediately resumed after the regroup, but nothing was getting away as easily at this point. Finally, with about 10 minutes left in the race, Chris got into a break with a Rally rider and an Herbalife rider. They quickly built up a sizable gap. Things were looking good for us. That was until we came around turn 1 to find Chris on the ground, looking quite unhappy. As it turns out, an angsty teen on a bmx bike decided to ride into the course right in front of the break. Chris had nowhere to go and piled into him.
We now had to chase down the Rally and Herbalife rider who had about a 20 second gap. Unfortunately for Herbalife, their rider had gotten dropped from Rally. After we brought back the Herbalife rider, it was their turn to help chase. The final Rally rider was caught with about 3 to go, and from that point TMBEquator hovered near the front, allowing Rally to set the pace. In the final lap, Garrett followed Roman closely through the tight corners and chicanes. Roman set him up beautifully, getting him out of the final corner in 4th wheel. From there it was 250 meters to the line. Garrett opened it up just before Brad Huff (Rally) hit the gas, and was able to come by the two Rally riders in front of him to take the win!