The year prior our team had won this race and we agreed that winning again would be the priority while trying to stack Cal Cup points would come secondary. Race favorites were Johnathan Teeter (Marc-Pro/Strava), Zeke Mostov (Slipstream-Craddock Junior Development Team), Tyler Brandt (Get Crackin'), and Chris Stasny (Hagens Berman Cycling). Thankfully Dunnigan Hills doesn't actually have any hills, because otherwise it would have been a slightly boring day of watching Teeter and Mostov ride away from everyone. The course is flat, borderline windy, with some small rolling hill sections - which is exactly what is needed to max out the Specialized Venge's aerodynamic advantage. Unfortunately less than two miles in the race four riders went down on an oil slick taking down teammate Steve O'Mara - a huge blow to us as O'Mara has been a dark horse all season long and would have caught a lot of competition off guard by how strong he is.
The first move came at about five miles and had too many big names in it and not enough teammates. Teammate Rainier Schaefer and I sat on trying to convince the break to sit up and reshuffle, but they decided to keep riding and deal with us later.
"Later" came in the headwind section with thirty-five miles to go, with everyone in the break taking turns to launch attacks. Schaefer was on point today in a big way and took turns with me matching each acceleration. Mostov and Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro/Strava) were able to split the break up and rode away with me on their wheel, but with some fifteen riders giving chase and myself still not liking the odds and not working we all regrouped with ten miles to the finish.
A lot of cat and mouse riding started up, with Hutcheson trying to put me in a box every time Teeter attacked. It probably should've made me mad, but it was so ineffective that it was actually really cute. Chris Harland-Dunaway (Marc-Pro/Strava) showed just how big his motor was and took some big pulls and some huge welds during this time, chasing down moves he missed and ultimately keeping everyone together for a pack sprint finish.
Coming into two kilometers to go Mostov attacked and made the move of the day, putting in huge time into the group very rapidly. Schaefer came out of nowhere and did a tremendous job of chasing him down and setting me and teammate Adam Switters up for the sprint. Right when I thought Schaefer was dead and done for, he shifts up a few more gears and starts his standing sprint for a good ten more seconds.
His lead out had caught everyone off guard and riders who should have been marking me were too many bike lengths back - it set me up perfectly for my jump at around 400 meters to the finish.
The gap opened on my jump proved large enough to hold off the group for the win, with teammate Adam Switters flying in for third place just behind.