March 20, 2016
By Scott Cox
Teammates: Adams, Allen, Amatelli, Pizzica, Williams
Another year at the Santa Cruz Classic! This race is one of my favorites due to location and type of course it is with the technical aspects as well as attrition. It is hard to complain with our team’s results over the last 3 seasons (3 podiums), but the top step has eluded us and we have several riders that this course suits. We have had a bit of bad luck with crashes and flats. Not to mention, this is one of David Allen’s (Beardo) training areas and we were looking for some bragging rights. As luck would have it and maybe this was some foreshadowing, Beardo caught a bug and being the team player he is, decided that he would take a support role this year since he was not feeling 100%. We had a plan to make sure we were in any breakaways and if it came down to a bunch sprint then I would be the sprinter near the tail end of the best Masters leadout in the world - CrazyTrain - with National crit champ Dana Williams on my wheel to give me bit of a cushion.
We all met near the Santa Cruz boardwalk in our Capo Custom kits pinned and ready to go. A fleet of Specialized Venges were ready to roll with some fat Specialized Turbos to eat up the course. We lined up on the front and ready for business and the whistle blew. Adams, Amatelli and Pizzica went to work from the gun covering any moves and no one was getting away. Several moves got a gap and TMB had at least one and usually two guys representing us. I believe Rob Amatelli was in every one of them and if he was not off the front, then he was on the front keeping the pace high. Adams was everywhere as well as Pizzica. TMB was in it to win it. Dana was keeping an eye on Stanko (the STAND) and Beardo was keeping an eye on everything and was always in striking distance. The strength of my team allowed me to sit in the entire race and save energy.
I noted the lap cards come out with 9 to go and I was ready for a sprint. It was easy to stay up front and protected with my teammates around me and I felt relaxed. 2 to go and all was going to plan with the leadout doing their thing. It is a thing of beauty seeing the TMB kits all getting lined up when it is go time. Stanko (the Stand) was the guy I was keeping an eye on and ready for his early move if it happened. This turned out to be good because heading up the hill into the bell lap, Dana sprinted hard thinking this was the last lap. I was ready for an attack and jumped hard to get on Stanko’s wheel when he followed Dana. These were some serious fireworks and this effort took its toll on the field. Dana sat up realizing we still had another lap and I was ready for a swarm, but it never happened since everyone was now tired. I ended up in 4th wheel an was waiting for anyone to come around with Stanko in front of me 2nd wheel. I do not recall who was on the front and think it was Thirsty Bear. Not for long, because Matt Adams came out of nowhere to take the front through turn 3 and I was in great position. Stanko and I were still in positions 2 and 4 coming out of the final turn and Stanko hit it. He put in a great early sprint and I was chasing him. He had a couple of bike lengths and I was holding the distance as we crested the steepest part of the finish hill. It was still a long way to go and I throttled back a bit keeping the same distance and then put in a final effort. Stanko seemed to be doing the same thing and I was not losing ground, but not closing in either. About 20 meters from the line I saw a red and black Specialized kit coming up on my right. Oh, hell no! I upshifted and gritted my teeth to hold second.
Congratulations to Stanko and the STAND. That is the most I have seen Stanko sit in in a crit and it paid off at the end. Super fun race and very thankful for all of my teammates and the fun day we had racing and with beers and tacos. See you next year Santa Cruz and we will be on the top step!