The two-man plan for the Category 3 race at the Cherry Pie Criterium was to get me across the line first with strategically thought out assistance from- the one and only- John Becker! We aimed to keep ourselves in the top fifteen for the majority of the race, then employing some pretty standard timed maneuvers near the end. My coach and teammate, Shawn Rosenthal of Provantage Sports, gave me a supreme warm-up routine that left me feeling hot’n’ready at the gun. I took a quick squeeze of some Vanilla CLIF Shot Gel at the line, with a full bottle of CLIF Shot Electrolyte drink mix in the cage and a CLIF Shot Turbo Gel tucked into my skinsuit. The race started out pretty steady, the average speed in the first few laps hovering right around 24 mph, without any noteworthy moves off the front. About thirty minutes in, the two Slipstream-Craddock (Garmin) juniors got to the front and started picking up the pace. With about five laps to go, one of them attacked and got a little ways up the road with a Bicycles-Plus Sierra Nevada rider. They maintained a steady lead until the lap cards read three to go, and the field slowly started working the gap down. At this point I was sitting around twentieth, and John was about six guys ahead of me. At the end of that lap, the race officials skipped lap card #2 and went straight to the final lap- giving the breakaway an absurd advantage on the field. At the start of the final lap, the pack started to really pick it up to reel in the break. John was sitting around tenth going down the hill and I made up ground on the outside of the pack to catch up out of the wind. Into turn1, John and I were nearly side-by-side when the group mushroomed before the orange pylons. When the road narrowed, I did my best to maintain a decent position that I could work with later in the lap, and I lost contact with John. While on the backside of the course, Tieni Duro Junior Development (my ex-teammates) had a two-man leadout for Dylan Drummond moving up the outside of the curve, so I hopped on Dylan’s wheel. They made up a significant amount of positions for me in a short distance, and I was sitting around twentieth going in to the second to last turn before the chicane. Where the road narrowed down to two lanes just before the chicane, I was sitting next to Dylan when he got swarmed and lost his wheel. I barely squeezed in and kept position- his leadout having no idea he had lost him. Through the chicane I was about fifteenth, the peloton got strung out and the leadout started going. I jumped with about 220m to the line with hopes and dreams of catching the rider in 2nd position waiting to jump. The two-man break stayed away to the line. I passed a number of guys on the right and finished fourth, second in the sprint.
Of course, 3s races rarely go as planned and split-second decisions need to be made all the time. I could speculate that with a legit 3 laps to go at “3 to go”, the break would have been pulled back and we would have had time to get ourselves organized. But that’s not what happened, and I think we did okay. A mad shout out to teammate Taylor Cody for getting the first Team Mike’s Bikes Win of the season in the 4s!! Also to our P,1,2 squad for going 2, 3, 4 in the afternoon- you guys rocked it!! Surely an awesome start to a promising season.