Fast & Furious Festival Criterium (NCNCA State Criterium Championship)

We came into this race as one of the pre-race favorites to win the race and we definitely showed that we had the most heart throughout the race. It was a beautiful day in Pleasanton, California; home of the newly-opened Mike's Bike's of Pleasanton! Last year, I was able to finish 4th with junior gearing so I was very excited to get revenge and come back and win. The team's plan was to completely race for a field sprint. Even if a break went up the road, we either needed to keep it relatively close or be in the break and sit on it to bring it back into the fold for a field sprint for Dana and I. A break went up the road early in the race that included two CashCall riders, Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro Strava), Chris Stasny( Cal Giant/Specialized), one other rider and Tyler Dibble (Team Mike's Bikes!). We were glade to have one of our riders in the break but we found iut the hard way that it was too strong of a breakaway, so strong that we set up the entire team to get on the front and team time trial to bring back the break. Eric Riggs, Shawn Rosenthal, Andy Goessling, Rainier Schaefer, and even Dana Williams (my leadout man) were total studs trying to bring this back! We really rode their hearts out that night and I am completely grateful to have such an amazing team to dedicate all of their efforts for me. I am very proud of being on this team and racing for Team Mike's Bikes!

Unfortunately, Tyler crashed going around one of the turns and it he was able to get back in but his scars were too much for him to race for the win. The rest of the breakaway started to play games in the closing laps and with about 7 laps to go, most of the guys had blown up and had tried their best to bring the break back. We brought them to about 15-20 seconds away and everyone sat up. I decided to take a dig for it for 1/2 a lap and emmidtaely after I looked back and pulled off, a Cashcall rider attacks and Marc-pro follows. I follow again behind Marc-pro and this started to get other teams to help chase too fortunately! I got back into the field with Dana and we let other teams chase as the breakaway was only 10 seconds infront of us with only 4 laps to go!

Not sure exactly what happened in the breakaway but by the time it came down to the last lap, it was very hectic and I had trouble communicating with Dana and figuring out how to bring back the last two riders of the breakaway (Chuck and a CashCall rider). Benny Swedberg attacked with 2 corners to go and I jump onto his wheel. Right now, I'm thinking I just sit on his wheel and sprint by him in the sprint and hope I catch the last two riders to win the race and/or the State Championship! Unfortunately, I started my sprint, I did start coming around Benny but all of a sudden Justin Williams (CashCall) comes from behind me and sprints by me but by the time he's halfway past me, he goes off his line and almost crashes into my front wheel. I had to stop pedaling (very bad for lactic acid for a sprint) and then continued to sprint. That delay was enough to let Justin take the field sprint and Benny to come in the 2nd in the field. I ended up with 3rd in the field and Dana somehow finished right behind me. The two riders stayed away and Chuck Hutchenson stayed away in the breakaway to win the state Championship.

Even though I didn't win, I am very proud of the guys and all of their efforts! They are truly the best teammates a sprinter could ask for!

Thank you for reading!

--James LaBerge