This was my 2nd race of the day; racing the Elite National Criterium just hours earlier that unfortunately took a tight turn in the final lap of the race so I was hungry to do much better in the U23 race. I went back to our host house after the Elite race, showered, ate, and took a quick nap in order to be ready for the U23 race. I knew I was going to get a call up as I am ranked in the top 8 in the USA Cycling rankings so I had a little bit of more extra time to spin around and wake up my body for the race. The team was: Marcus, Nick, Travis, and I. Just as the Elite race, we had a strong feeling that a break might get away so we wanted to be represented in the breaks and if it came down to a sprint, we want to try to lead me out or get me into position. It was fast at the beginning as expected but it settled down after about 20 laps. Cal giant was the dominate team, having about 10 riders, so they sent riders off the front and whenever Hincapie or Bontrager miss it, they would chase hard to make sure it comes back. Eventually a break got away that last for a while but Hincapie went to the front and brought it back by 10 laps to go. At this time, Marcus, Travis, and I were all together, stayed right at the front and fighting for position with the big names the whole time. We were able to do this until about 7 laps to go, where it started to get harder and harder to stay together so I released Travis and told Marcus that it's just the two of us then. By 3 laps to go, we were right behind Cal Giant and I then released Marcus because I was right where I wanted to be. Marcus and Travis ended up staying right behind me and guided me through the next 1-2 laps. I was in about 12th place coming into 1 lap to go so I moved up on the inside, slotting right behind Hincapie, who was taking over Cal Giant. I was behind Ty Magner (Hincapie, previous National U23 crit champ) which was perfect for me. We were fighting very hard for position with the Cal giant riders and a few others behind all the way into the third corner. Going into it, I hit a crack in the road which sent me wide through the turn and allowed the Cal Giant riders by and the others behind me. As the official lead out took place up the hill to the finish, I didn't have much left as I raced the Elite race earlier in the day and got stuck behind the 2nd row of riders. A close call going around the last corner made me sit up for a second which forced me to roll in behind them for 13th. This was a bit disappointing, knowing that I was in great position and a small mistake going around the 2nd to last corner cost me the race.

I would like to thank my teammates for all of their hard work for me and I feel horrible not getting the job done for them. I am looking forward to coming back next year and looking to counter on how I did this year. I would like to thank all of the sponsors for all of their support throughout the entire year because this team wouldn't be possible without you!

 

Thank you for reading.

 

--James LaBerge