I came into Nationals preparing all for the criterium in hopes of retrieving a National Champions jersey and a gold medal. This was going to be a very hard task as many of the biggest named teams in the country and around the world showed up by the names of Garmin, BMC, and Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop. There were also our Northern Californian rivals of California Giant Berry Farms/ Specialized. This was sure to be a complete smack down and whoever wins the race would be a for sure worthy winner! It was a hot day in downtown Augusta and I tried to conserve as much energy as possible by sitting in the shade waiting for us to be called up. In previous years, they have done call ups of the top 8 from last year's race, so I had thought I was going to get a call up but just in case if I didn't, I wanted to start right near the front so it could give me the best chance to stay safe and save it for the end. I ended up not getting a call up but I did get to start 2nd row!
The race was off and we were flying by the first 5 laps of the race! I stayed out of trouble throughout the race and stayed in the front the entire time with Tyler and John. They were both looking for any dangerous breakaways that might have succeeded. John was impressivly strong, following any Garmin, Cal Giant, Livestrong, or BMC riders to try to get in a winning break but nothing had succeded. With 6 laps to go, a group of about 7 got away that included 3 Cal Giants, a Garmin, BMC, and Livestrong rider got away. I asked Tyler how he was doing and without reply, he attacked out of the group and was able to bridge up! This now looked very promising and I was now getting a free ride to the finish hopefully. But by the time Tyler bridged up, within a lap, the field had caught them. We were strung out and it hardly slowed now after. After fighting for wheels from 5 to 2 laps to go, I was in prime position; sitting behind Ty Magner (BMC) and Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop). It was extremely fast the second to last lap and I was really feeling the burn just holding the wheel in front of me but I was able to catch my breath quickly as we came around the corner coming into 1 lap to go! I was still sitting in good position and was getting excited. I looked up and all I saw was one rider from their own team up there; there was no organized lead out and on the long back-straight, a swarm came over the top and I had guys on my left and right already. I realized here was when I should have jumped early to flow with the swarm but I didn't and got pushed back to about 15th. I slid to the outside and tried to make up some ground but it wasn't enough. I came around the last corner in about 8th position and got passed by one rider in the sprint as I used my energy trying to move back up. I ended up finishing 9th overall and I was the best 19 year-ol in the race!
Tyler somehow held onto 17th in the race and John finished shortly after. It was one of the faster crits I've done this year, but I've done similar crits in superweek before, so it was a good wake up call for me to get ready for BC Super week in 2 weeks! I want to thank all of the supporters and sponsors of Team Mike's Bikes and host housing for hosting Tyler, John, and I for the week! We surely had a great time and learned a lot and I'm looking forward to next year in Madison, Wisconsin!