by Brandon Trafton This was my first year doing the Little City Stage Race and I was very impressed with the event. All three stages were on top level courses which were both hard and unique. Because I feel my victory on Sunday was a direct result of my racing on Saturday, instead of just recapping my win, I will review Saturdays racing as well.
The stage race was an omnium (point system), this was great for me considering I was going to “Merckx” the initial TT. After placing 10th on the 10 mile course, I was happy considering I did not loose too many points going into the criterium, which was later that day and RR on the following day. Unfortunately however, I did not race the criterium as well as I had hoped. Towards the end of the race, a break of 5 riders went off the front and I was caught out of the breakaway. It was a very brilliant ride by the Marc-Pro Strava racers Chris Harland-Dunaway, Nate Freed and Chuck Hutcheson; not only did they place 1st and 2nd in the criterium, but they moved Chris into 1st overall. I only managed to place 9th after many unsuccessful bridge attempts and an unsuccessful early field sprint.
Frustrated with my race, I did what I normally do when I need to clear my mind, I decided to go on a bike ride. Heading out of town, I saw a road called Kingsbury Grade, “what the hell,” I thought. Every pedal stroke up the mountain felt like another bit of frustration leaving my mind. By the time I got to the top, I was smiling ear to ear and ready for another day of racing. I told myself looking into the valley below that I was going to race the RR as hard as I could, win or loose I would leave it on the course.
The road race started as expected, many riders were marking each other thinking about the overall GC. Because of the blistering heat and expected winds, many were sitting in trying to save their energy for the final laps. The course was 6 laps of an 11mile loop with two consecutive 3 min climbs. Anyone that has raced with me knows I am not one to sit in and wait for the sprint, I am a rider who goes on the attack, usually early and often, so for me to wait until lap two was patient by my standards. On lap two, I tested the waters by setting a moderate pace up the climbs. Sure enough, this drew out some attacks following the 2nd climb. Nothing got too far up the road and by the start of lap 3 we were back together. Just as the lap prior, I set the pace again but this time with the intent to attack after the initial accelerations over the top of the second climb. Sure enough the attacks came and then off I went. Luckily, I had Pete Morris from Team Cliff Bar follow me to share the work. Chuck Hutcheson from Marc-Pro also followed my attack, this was good and bad. On one had, this would stop the chase by Marc-Pro, but on the other I knew he would not work very enthusiastically because his teammate was behind trying to defend the race lead. Sure enough, he sat on Pete and I for 90% of the race (as he should have). Pete and I decided to remain “civil” on the climb to make sure we had enough energy to pull away from the pack on the remainder of the course. By lap 5 we had over a 3 min gap on the pack. Coming into the last lap, I felt surprisingly fresh for a 2 hour threshold effort at altitude. Knowing Chuck and Pete had the upper-hand in the sprint, I attacked with 1K to go holding on for the win. My goal for the race was achieved, I left if all on the course and the win was great added bonus. On top of the win, this gave me enough points to move into 5th on the overall. I did get to pay for this post race however from what I later concluded may have been a mild state of heat stroke. I guess 3 hours in a 100º+, 4721ft high, dry environment will do that to you.
Thanks for the awesome race Bubba Melcher!