by Daniel Holloway The Circuit race at Sea Otter is always difficult, you are either coasting or pedaling nearly full on. Team Mikes Bikes pb Incase plan for the race was to lay low and let the GC guys chase each other down only going into a move if it had GC riders in it and would make it to the line.
Roman and Shawn kept a look out in the early part of the race for any moves that we noted as dangerous. Eric and myself were to relax, sag climb the hill and save as much as we could for the end. Marcus may of had the hardest job of the day, he was there to shuffle around the group and get any of us four into the position we wanted to be in. It was going to be a tricky day with only a 5 man squad racing against strong 8 man teams.
The race starts off aggressive and doesn't really let up. Teams are attacking, but we stay calm and collected to not waste energy on moves that will be caught shortly after they go. Roman and Shawn did a great job representing the team in the first half of the race, actually the whole race.
They never missed a beat. After 5 laps or so a 6 man group was up the road with a 15-20 second gap. It contained two of the faster finishers in the race and a couple other strong men. One of the other larger teams missed the move which helped us as we choose not to follow that move. We kept our cool and let the others do most of the grunt work to keep the gap in check. Any time the field slowed Eric would reignite the fire and keep the peleton within distance.
Around 3 laps to go the break was absorbed back into the group. Now everyone on the team had to be switched on to not let any late race attacks go. Eric and Marcus did a great job of keeping the pace up so anyone who did attack didn't get too far and other teams could weld it back together. Somewhere in the last 3 laps Roman finds me and says "You are going to win this *expletive* race". I had to, the team worked so hard all day to make it happen. Needless to say, that got me amped up.
Going up the hill the last time as a group I was nervous, some strong guys were sitting in all day and were not looking for a field sprint. A last minute attack from a strong rider can take it to the line. Sure enough Zack Noonan let it rip up the right side and got a gap. I stayed close to Roman as he road a super smooth pace up the steep part of the climb. With my girth Its not to my advantage to go full gas up the steeper stuff. We get down off the cork screw of Laguna Seca and Zack has a sizable gap, it was going to be close. Going over the criterium hill I was out of position. I found a wheel moving up the inside around the long U-turn into the head wind. Shawn was still up front laying down the speed. Roman appeared at the perfect time to move me up to 4th wheel with 600meters to go. Going into the final right hand corner Shawn moved left and the next started his sprint way early perfect for me. As soon as I saw the window open on the right side I hit out as hard as I could. With 50meters to go I checked under my arms to see where the others were, with nothing but daylight I was able to raise my hands early and show off the Team Mikes Bikes p/b Incase jersey for a few extra meters before the line.
Thank you so much to all of my teammates for their incredibly hard work and sacrifice. Thank you to all of our team sponsors for the best products any racer wishes they had.
Read the Norcal Cylcing News report on Sea Otter here.