Date: April 17, 2016
Category: M123 35+
Teammates: Funke, Hobbs, Oli, Sloan (aka Maggie)
This was probably one of the biggest crit fields to date this year with I'm guessing 60+ riders, with 4-5 teams having more than 7 riders. Peets had 8!. The field was pretty deep too with Patrick Stanko, Dan Martin, James LaBerge, Jan Weissenberger, etc.
The Plan: Race aggressive, create a break and stack it.
Summary: There was tons of attacking right from the gun with all of the TMBEquator riders pulling their weight. The first 20 minutes or so was a blur, but I feel that we were well represented in everything.
Around this point a big move went off the front with a bunch of strong riders. Teammate Hobbs made it, along with Stanko, Jan & Scobie (both from Thirsty Bear), Boynton & O'Rourke(?) (both from Peet's), Dan Shore, and maybe 1-2 others.
I knew right away we were going to be in trouble with only one teammate in the break against Stanko and multiple riders from Peets and Thirsty Bear. The field seemed willing to accept this break and I knew O needed to get across. I'm not sure exactly what the gap was, but it seemed possible, if maybe a little on the "I might blow up before I get there" side. With the wind at our backs on the back stretch, I jumped really hard about 100m before turn 3, and immediately got a gap. I knew I needed to make the bridge before hitting the headwind after turn 4. Out of the saddle, head down the whole way, I was gaining but it was hurting. I hit turn 4 about 10m off the back and had to dig a little more to get on right around the start/finish. Darn, that hurt!
Now I just needed to hang out and rest a bit so as not to get dropped right away. But rest didn't come so easily. I quickly learned that the reason it was harder to bridge than I expected was because the break was busy chasing Stanko. Typical! Another few minutes of pain and Stanko was reabsorbed and we got down to the business of steady riding/rotating.
From what I remember, the first 10-15 min everyone worked pretty well with no shenanigans. Hobbs, Stanko, and 1-2 others were really driving it. My plan was just to take reasonable pulls while trying to stay fresh for the finish.
The last 10 laps were also kind of a blur. I remember telling Hobbs to ease back a little to save some for the end. There were a lot of attacks and the group split a couple times. I was feeling good and just following wheels. With 5-6 laps to go, the group stopped working well and it got a little dicey. There were lots of guys complaining but no one willing to put in much effort.
With 2-3 to go, the field was getting close and I asked Hobbs to start ramping it up. I'm pretty sure his effort ensured that the break would stay away (nice job Donkey!).
At this point I think everyone expected it to come down to a sprint. Oddly enough (though i should have expected it), Stanko instead attacked with 1 to go. Scobie was able to get his wheel (or close anyway) and I was on Scobie. I'm pretty sure no one else made it. Unfortunately, after about 200m Scobie blew dramatically and I gave everything I could to go around and get Stanko’s wheel, but it wasn’t enough. I was faced with blowing up trying to catch him or settling in trying to hang on for 2nd. By the beginning of the back stretch it was obvious that I wasn’t going to catch him so just got in TT mode.
Jan caught me just before turn 3 and attacked, but I had enough left to get on his wheel. He tried to get me to come around, but I wasn’t budging. We starting soft pedaling. I looked back and saw another rider coming up to us. It ended up being Boynton. I tried to time it just right to jump before he caught us and also get around Jan before the last turn, but Boynton got there first and I couldn’t quite come around him. I had to settle for 3rd.