Pescadero Coastal Classic
Sat Jun 6 2015
Control the race, keep it together until the final climb, then I go hard for the win
The weather was warmer and sunnier than I’ve ever seen at this race so we were all excited for a nice ride. The pre-race went pretty smooth with plenty of time to get all our ducks in a row. We chatted about what to watch for and how to manage the race and then got a decent warm up in. The race started with the neutral roll out and was pretty uneventful the first time over the Stage Rd climbs. The descents were a bit faster than in years past so some gaps formed but came back together pretty quickly on 84. The attacks started but nothing serious until Luiggi countered and started to get a gap. Pablo Espinosa followed and then Eric Lagier (I think) from TB. It was not part of the plan but at this point was a good move. A bit later, Carinio sent Albracht up the road. I yelled a warning to our guys up front but Carinio politely informed me that this was good for us. So pretty quickly into the race, a break of 4 was up the road with all 4 teams represented and our guy the strongest climber. That forced some of the solo riders to put in some work. we caught them the first time up Haskins, which was faster than I expected it would be but all our guys made it over the top and we were all back together after the descent. A few more attacks but nothing really stuck. Todd Bell was super active and as the only MAW guy, was looking to get in a break. As we came in to Pescadero, Jan W attacked solo and no one went. He went hard and got a pretty good gap pretty quickly.
As we started the second lap, Jan had a couple min gap and the peloton's comments turned from “suicide attack” to “hmm, time to worry?” I chatted with a couple of our guys and all we wanted to do was mark any bridge attempts from strong guys. As we started the second time up Stage Rd, my front tire went flat and I have no idea why. I couldn’t believe my luck but before I could get too pissed and even come to a complete stop, Oli and Bromstead were right there offering their wheels. My mind was spinning but Bromstead’s “front or back, front or back” yells cut through the fog and before you know it, he had given up his race for mine, and I was back on my bike, about 30 sec off the group. Oli and Funke were there and brought me back to the group quickly - I was a bit nervous because we were catching another field and about to crest the first climb and I wanted to be back on before all that happened. But just like that, we were back and all was good, except for Scott sitting on the side of the road with my flat tire and his race over. I can’t thank him enough for keeping me in the race with absolutely no hesitation. As soon as I got back on, several people said they had never seen that before in a race and they were inspired by Scott’s selflessness.
We went pretty hard over the second Stage Rd. bump and after we turned on to 84, Jan was still out of sight. I chatted with Oli and we decided to not worry about it until after the second time up Haskins. About halfway out, Stefano rolled off the front. I had a moment of panic but it was still a long way out and our guys upped the pace to keep his gap manageable. Funke wasn’t feeling so hot so he rolled up to me and said he didn’t think he’d make it over Haskins again so he went to front and pulled for a while. This was huge as it kept Jan and Stefano in check. One of the most impressive things I felt our team did was make the right decision without much conversation. It seemed we were all on the same page most of the time and I could just sit in comfortably while the guys managed the race from the front. We hit Haskins for the second time and caught Jan at the start and then Stefano part way up. A guy from Cykel Racing hit the climb hard and drove a pretty furious pace. But he faded and all the known strongmen were still there. I’m not sure how things played out behind me but pretty quickly after the descent, I saw Josh, and then Oli immediately came up and said he and Luiggi were there. At this point, it seemed the race was set up for a final ascent. The only guy I was afraid of at this point was Stanko. I thought he wouldn’t want to challenge the climbers and he’s strong enough to hold it if he can get a gap. About this time, Josh, who seemed to be racing with ease and confidence, went right to the front and set the perfect pace. Fast enough that no one got antsy and attacked, but still comfortable if you were sitting in. Oli then went to the front and did the same.
The funny moment of the day was as we approached the town to start the last lap, Funke rolled up on the group so fast he almost skidded to slow down and abruptly asked “who’s up the road”. It was pretty similar to Kramer entering a room! But he was back from the dead after what had to have been a furious descent and chase.
On the third time up Stage road, we passed the lead group of the 4’s. Luiggi went to the front and set a pretty fast pace, so fast that I was worried Oli, Josh, and Funke might get gapped. I rolled up next to him and told him to chillout a bit, because I’m gonna need those guys. We were all pretty much back together and no one really wanted to do anything. This meant the Cat 4 leaders passed us and the moto held us behind them. So basically, the final run in to the finish climb was effectively neutralized. It was good from the standpoint that there were no attacks to manage but it also meant that other favorites were as fresh as I was.
We made the turn towards the feed zone and the pace quickly picked up. I was probably a bit too far back but wasn’t as concerned as Oli was who made that known to me. :) Thirsty Bear went to the front and did their best Donkey impression (I give it a B-) and we hit start of the real climb. I was about 10th wheel on the left side of the road. This proved lucky as pretty quickly, someone stood up to pedal and veered into Carinio and they both went down on the right side. I was pretty easily able to avoid it and was able to get up to the 3 or 4 leaders pretty quickly. Piers did the pace making until he faded and Stefano took over. The pace was fast but manageable. I looked back it was just Stefano, me and Phipps. Stanko was about 20 meters back. I knew I just had to hold Phipps’ wheel and survive what he could throw at me. Each time it pitched up, he would accelerate. My hamstrings started to have that "I’m about to cramp” tingle so I downshifted and got out of the saddle. Maybe about halfway up, Phipps accelerated again and I went around Stefano to stay on. Stefano was done and it was down to Phipps and myself. Stanko was still hanging strong but the moto official was in between us. I figured as long as he was there, we were safe from him. Phipps kept punching it on the steeper turns but I was able to hold on each time. At about the 1K mark, it felt like Stanko was closing so I took over the pace to make sure he wouldn’t come back. There’s one final steeper section at about 500m to go and Phipps went hard again but I was able to hang. I could feel his frustration when he’d look back and didn’t see the gap he wanted. I knew he had given it his all and I wanted to attack. But I stayed patient and knew my best chance was a final sprint when the pitch flattens out. I found myself on the front as we made the final left bend and I saw the daylight. I downshifted and prepared myself for him to jump me. At the 200 meter sign, he hadn’t gone yet so I decided to go and see how he’d respond. I jumped hard and looked back and I had the gap I wanted. I sat down, stayed on the gas, looking back every few seconds. He wasn’t closing and I had time to raise both arms (for the first time in my life) as I crossed the line. Phipps is a true class act and he immediately congratulated me and the team. And then the best part - I saw Bromstead and gave him a nasty, sweaty hug. And then the rest of the boys came through. It’s an awesome moment to be able to share a win with teammates, especially when my victory couldn’t have happened without them.
*Once again, Scott B, I can’t thank you enough. I know what goes in to a getting to a race and you gave up your day for me. And Oli was right there offering the same.
*It’s a wonderful feeling to have so many strong and great guys working for me in this race and I’m stoked to have delivered the result.
*The post race was one of the best ever - Josh and I both brought beer, and we ate lunch in the sun behind the deli with the Elite team, who also won.
Distance: 73.7 mi
Avg Speed: 21.3 mph
Max Speed: 44.5 mph
Avg Power: 221w
Max Power: 832w