Snelling Road Race and Original Merced Criterium - Elite 3 Race Report

Snelling Road RaceIn the 3s, 98 people at the start line for this race, my plan was to stay in the top 20. Reason being that with the forecast saying wind, there was bound to be a "selection" where the strong guys at the front get separated from the strong guys at the back by the weaker guys in the middle.

My bottles were a combination of one with plain water, and one with Clif Shot Electrolyte drink mix. In my pockets I had a Clif Bar (Black Cherry Almond), a Clif Shot TURBO (espresso flavor) and a Clif Shot Gel (vanilla).

The first few laps were pretty normal. I was doing my best to get a feel for where the best places in the peloton to be were to avoid wind and to maintain decent positioning at the same time. About 2/3rds through lap four of five, on the tailwind section of the course, a 9-man group rolled off the front of the peloton (*the "selection"). On the roller leading into the right bend before the left turn to the rough stuff, I attacked and bridged. In the 10-man break, Team Fusion Sport was represented by three guys who nearly refused to do work. This ultimately lead to the catching of the breakaway on the long windy straight following the finishing straight. All together now, with about 40% of the final lap to go, I stayed in the top 20 (of now about 45 in the remaining group).

Into the second to last turn, just before Figmond (the rough straight section), I was about 25th on the outside of the turn. We were spread about three or four wide, and I was stuck on the right edge of the road. Every time the guy in front of me moved far enough left, I'd move up into the gap and maintain that position. I repeated doing this until I was in the top ten. At 1k to go, a Metromint guy attacked up the right side of the road, and got about 20 meters off the front of the pack. Into the final turn, the group doubled up and I made my way up just after the exit. I was 5th wheel with about 250 to go, the Garmin kid in front of me went and I stayed on his wheel- jumping around 200m. I caught the Metromint rider, looked left - no one - looked right - no one - and threw up my hands at the line. This was my first Elite Road Race win.

Original Merced Criterium

The idea was to get in a break with someone I had seen before and had an idea of how strong they were. Bridged up to three breaks at different times in the race that all got pulled back, but got a prime in there somewhere. With 7 to go, there was one guy off the front leading and a Tieni Duro junior in the process of bridging up to him. I attacked around the back side of the big white building before the narrow road and got a good gap. Within about twenty seconds, I had made up the time gap on the guy leading the race. We worked together for about two laps, until he told me he was fried and wouldn't be able to sustain the pace we were keeping. Going into three to go, I pulled through in our rotation, looked back, and he had fallen off.

The next three laps were going to go one of two ways- I could do everything I could to maintain my lead (about 1.5 city blocks), or I could sit up and do the pack sprint thing at the end. I said to myself, "Self... let's do this. WE CAN DO THIS." I put my head down, and gave it everything. Finishing up my 3rd to last lap, I was hearing plenty of clapping, hooting and hollering. It helped. With 2 to go, I didn't even look back. I didn't want to know how far back the peloton was. I kept going, drilling it on the only sheltered, wind-free section of the course. I took the smoothest lines possible and was on to my final lap. I thought "This is it. Let's finish it" I kept going. and going. and going. I turned the final corner, looked back, and saw the peloton closing in on me, from 1 corner back. I finished with about four bike lengths on the winner of the bunch sprint.