Check out a great report and video from Travis Lyons- It was a bright and sun-shiny day in Novato, California, when we met at the Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. building to race our bicycles. The field was small. Only 22 people had registered by the time I picked up my number from Registration. I knew I would have at least three teammates in the field to work with, and I felt we had a solid opportunity to pull out a win in the 2/3 field.
The plan(s) was to get Hank into a break that was well represented by the teams with a strong presence in the field, and mark anything that tried to bridge, or get in the way of people trying to organize a chase. Plan "B" was to have Ryan Johnson lead me out from the top of the hill on the backside of the course, with Ian Leibert sweeping and ready to sit up when the time was right. Taking Dana and John's advice into consideration, we knew that I needed to be the first into the last corner (about 220m from the finish, downhill to flat, w/ slight tailwind), ideally with some kind of a gap. Having Jared Franzoia, MB BG Fit Specialist, in the field was an unexpected, but none the less pleasant, surprise. It always helps to have numbers.
Hank got into a break with a few riders about mid-race, which ended up being just him and one other guy. Hank said they worked well together and they were each sharing the work load equally, but felt like the pace may have been a little beyond him. A few attempted to pull them back, and the field got strung out a few times. But whenever I looked up the road, it didn't seem that anyone was really making progress on Hank and the other rider's lead. With about 10 laps to go, their breakaway got pulled back, I presume by some riders from Red Peloton or Squadra SF, since they both had decent numbers in the field, and likely wanted it to come down to a sprint.
With two laps to go, Ryan was shepherding me through the pack, moving me up from around 20th to place me comfortably within the top 10 before halfway through the lap. I told him that this is where we wanted to stay for the beginning of the final lap. As we rounded the last corner of the lap, Hank made his way up to Ryan and I, at which point we began to take control of the front.
As we approached the first turn, Ryan was leading with Hank on his wheel, and me following. I shouted to Ryan that we needed to go, and as we exited the turn, Ryan took the left bend hard on the inside and began to raise the pace. A Davis rider put in an acceleration up the right side just before we hit the hill. I shouted to Ryan to sit on him, hoping that he might have time to recover a little and take us over the hill, but Hank jumped onto the Davis rider's wheel and Ryan sat back in behind Hank. Up the hill, Hank overtook the Davis rider on the inside of the right curve, then pulled off. Ryan stomped the pedals to push the pace even more on the descent before the long left curve. Fearing that there was a train waiting to come around us on the outside, I moved around Ryan to have him sit in and sweep behind me. I looked over my right shoulder about halfway around the curve and saw SquadraSF and Red Peloton both with leadouts coming around the outside. I knew I could be too far out, but I didn't want to get swarmed- so I started my sprint from the front of the pack.
I sprinted as hard as I could for about 200m to the final corner, looked under my left shoulder, and saw that I had a gap of about two bike lengths on the guys behind me. I stood up out of the exit of the turn and mashed the pedals as if I were stomping on extra large bubble-wrap packaging, having as much fun doing so. My only complaint about this course is the unnecessary number of lines going across the road that could easily have been mistaken for the finish line. I sprinted until my legs felt like spaghetti noodles and lunged for the line, my buddy, Mark Marquez on Fremont Bank, almost stealing my first win as a cat 2 to make it his own.
A huge thank you to my teammates, all of whom destroyed themselves [in some cases, multiple times] in the last lap to help me get the win. Glad to know that Ian was able to get up with only a [Specialized S-works Prevail] helmet that did it's job and a few scrapes from the crash in the final corner that happened about mid-pack.
Also, a big thank you to our sponsors for such invaluable support that has kept us going: Mike's Bikes Provantage Sports Specialized Bicycles SRAM Zipp Speed Weaponry Look Pedals Garmin CLIF Bar GoPro Smith Optics Bike Smart