Allen, Cox, Ryan, Vigil
Prelude- Anyone who hasn't done this race needs to get up there immediately! This is the best stage race I've ever done. That may be because of the guys I raced with, but the promoter does a great job too and the courses are excellent! The VRBO house was so much fun. I've never drank that much beer during a race before. Thanks to everyone for doing their part in creating a super racing weekend. I wish more TMB guys could have been there to have as much fun as I did.
Stage 1, Thunderhill Circuit Race
What amazing race course! Incredible road surface and features with hills and sharp(ish) corners. Not one of our best races though. Thankfully we didn't pay a price on GC. Lots of attacks and small breaks early. Oli looked like he was motivated and on fire. Great team communication throughout the race. The entire peloton was jittery and looking to attack. Dan gave me an important reminder to either attack or sit in and stop pulling the group. Dave, Scott C & Dan also all took turns riding aggresively at the front. At one point though, it did seem like we were all pooped and drifting towards the back. On the last lap, Dave yelled at me to attack on the second (bigger) hill with about 2 k to go and Phipps went at the same time. Unfortunately he beat me up the hill (hard to believe ;-) and got a gap which I then tried to chase down. Around 1k everyone swarmed and caught Phipps and I was basically out of gas. Scott C. came around me on a train of riders on Jan W.'s wheel. The last corner was 500m from the line and Scott had to sprint a little early since we weren't there to help him out and he popped too soon. Jan went on to win in the weirdest, widest sprint I think I've ever witnessed. Probably 25 guys going for the sprint. With the initial push of 10-12 riders all getting passed by 10-12 patient sprinters ready to pounce.
22. Scott Bromstead (Same Time as winner, tied for 4th on GC due to time bonuses)
29. Scott Cox (ST)
31. Dave Allen (ST)
35. Oli Ryan (ST)
39. Dan Vigil (ST)
Stage 2, Paskenta Hills Road Race
Another amazing race course! This time amazingly difficult. That gravel is HARD! My Garmin (or rather Hobbs' Garmin stayed on the entire race) Thanks Hobbs for letting me borrow it! I'm writing this last and it's past my bedtime. I'm hoping someone can fill some stuff in here for me. I wanted to get something out while everything is still fresh in my mind, but just can't focus anymore.
Lap 1 was pretty uneventful, lots of folsom guys sitting on the front riding tempo. First time coming into the rough section before the gravel I could see Scott, Scott and Dave up front and I was sitting right at the back, Dan gently reminded me of this fact so I moved up a few wheels then the real gravel started. This year it was really loose and not very deep so there were lines everywhere, you were not really confined to riding on one side or the other save for in a couple of spots. As a result, it was easy to move up and mid-way through I was up with the other guys. All looked good at that point, have gone harder through there in the past but it was definitely tough. We hit the end of the gravel as a big group, a minute or two later I saw Scott Cox and after chatting, it seemed like we had lost Dan and Dave, at the time we didn’t know what to. At the beginning of lap two the pace definitely picked up, Folsom and Specialized both went to the front and ramped up the pace. Eventually Brian Choi (Folsom) went off the front and got a pretty good gap. Next to go was Cottell, I think we caught Choi at that point, but Cottell never got much of a gap and we came to the gravel the second time again as a pretty big group. I had found Bromstead a little earlier who said he was worried about the finish and was pretty tired, so I just told him to do anything it took to hang on, no additional work, no attacks, just hang on through the gravel. The first half of the gravel on this lap seemed way slower, but the pace gradually picked up, I saw Scott B but lost sight of Scott C, and just kept the pedals moving, and was feeling pretty strong until my left leg went into full cramp. I did damage control for a few minutes, flexing it hard and trying to get it to release whenever I could stop pedaling for a few seconds (i.e. never) and managed to get rid of the worst of it. When I looked up, I could see a Specialized and Folsom rider had attacked on one of the steeper rollers, shit…I never thought anyone would let them get away (and it turns out it was Buckley and Bryant) and I hadn’t seen them go. We excited the gravel and it slowed down a little, then mid-way up that climb I think Phipps attacked a little, I stood up to follow and the total leg-cramp came back with a vengeance, managed to get back into the saddle and calm it down, but knew I was not sprinting at the finish, at least not out of the saddle. I found Scott Cox, looked back and we had popped at least half the field and were with a group of maybe 15 with two off the front (with 15-20 seconds at that point). Bromstead was there and looked fired up. As we went over that hill, Phipps finally went to the front to try to chase, I took a short pull too, and could see Jan starting to get himself into position. With 3K to go it looked like we would not catch the two riders, I looked for Bromstead to see if I could get him onto my wheel at 1.5K to go but told him I was still cramping, and he smartly stayed on the wheel he had. 500 to go we were still all pretty close together, then Jan jumped and I saw Scott B come around and chase him and take a well earned 5th place.
Pretty epic as usual and it was a blast, hard as hell both physically and mentally and I was super proud that we put 3 guys into the final selection (anyone not with that finishing group ended up well out of GC contention, we popped a good number of really strong time trialists too which helped Scott in the overall).
5. Scott Bromstead (9s behind Buckley & Bryant)
12. Scott Cox (ST)
19. Oli Ryan (ST)
34. Dave Allen (+ 10:42)
35. Dan Vigil (+ 11:52)
Stage 3, River Road Time Trial
My legs hurt a lot after 90 mile sufferfest from the previous day, so I wasn't expecting a great TT. Lotsa drool & coughing. In my typical fashion, I was disoriented, disorganized and probably still delirious form all the beers on Saturday. Forgot my shoe covers. But Oli had a spare pair and he set me up. Thanks Oli! Lost my disc wheel sticker around mile 4 as it flapped in my chain for a few seconds then flew off. Decided last second to use my Specialized Evade instead of my "TT helmet", the Bell Javelin. But, I think this was one major reason I did pretty well in this TT. Thanks to Matt for hooking me up with such awesome gear!
8. Scott Bromstead (21:34)
17. Oli Ryan (22:02)
23. Scott Cox (22:19)
34. Dan Vigil (23:16)
35. Dave Allen (23:57)
Stage 4, Downtown Chico Criterium
At the start line, they announced the first lap was a HOT LAP, which included a jersey prime. So, it was go from the gun. Nice and fast. After Espy won the first lap, Danny came through and hooked up with Chris Baker and they attacked and Danny got the NEXT FIVE PRIMES!! That let us sit back and enjoy the ride. Thanks Danny! When he came back a couple laps later Dave was in a break of 5 and Dan again reminded me to let other guys do the work since we have a guy in the break. I really needed that, since I was trying to stay near the front. Thanks again Danny! And Dave too! At this point I went to the back and couldn't see much, but Dave was in just about every break in the middle of that race. Oli and Scott C were up front a bunch too. Folsom was basically chasing everything down though, even when they had a teammate in it in order to keep everything together for the Yellow Jersey, I thought, but really to set up Dean for the sprint. There was probably a different breakaway on every lap it seemed. With around 5 to go, Phipps went to the front and tried to ride away from everyone, which just strung things out, but he never really got anywhere. At this point Scott C and I linked up and traded wheels a couple times due to the surging around the corners. With 2 to go, he put me on Dean LaBerge's wheel and made sure I stayed on it. Buckley attacked with one to go and a three man Folsom train was chasing him down, unsuccessfully. On the second to last straightaway, I got up and sprinted for the corner around Dean and the Folsom guys nearly catching Buckley. But on the final straight, I couldn't get Buckley and Dean passed me right before the line. Scott C. nearly stayed on Dean's wheel, but got passed by Jan to finish 5th. A really good showing for Team Mike's Bikes in a criterium full of talented racers.
3. Scott Bromstead (Same Time as winner)
5. Scott Cox (ST)
14. Oli Ryan (ST)
16. Dave Allen (ST)
21. Dan Vigil (ST)
6. Scott Bromstead (+1:36)
13. Oli Ryan (+2:08)
17. Scott Cox (+2:25)
33. Dave Allen (+14:45)
34 Dan Vigil (+15:14)