(Podium photo by Alex Chiu:  http://acaurora.smugmug.com/ )

Race: Snelling Road Race - 'the season opener'

Distance: approx 62 miles (5 laps)

Category: Masters 35+ 1/2/3

Written by: Dana Williams

Teammates:
Chris Hobbs
Oliver Ryan
Scott Cox
Scott Bromstead
Luiggi Zuniga

Team Goals:
- be attentive throughout
- be represented in any dangerous breaks
- Win

Snelling is considered the official opening road race of the season. It tends to draw a big field and today was no different. A full field of 100 riders lined up at the start under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 50s. Many teams had strong representation, with at least five of them having five or more riders in the field. Team Specialized had the largest with nine riders, followed by Mike's Bikes, SquadraSF, Lange Twins, Bicycle Plus and Chronos all with around six riders. It was either going to be your typical early-season slugfest or just a fast race in general with nothing being allowed to get away. In the end, the latter was the case.

We rolled up the start, clad in our sweet new Capo Super Corsa SL kits, and atop our Specialized Venges and Tarmacs with Zipp wheels, ready to do battle. Following the 2k neutral roll out, with riders jockeying for the front, the race was on. Snelling is somewhat notorious for cross winds, causing the field splinter, but that wasn't the case today.

The first real move of the day went away about half way through the first lap. Unfortunately for us, by this time Scott Cox had a front wheel puncture and was no longer in the race. Local strongman Patrick Stanko and former pro, Michael Sayers, slowly gained some time on the field. Thankfully our South American 'climbing sensation' Luiggi Zuniga was latched on the back of the two. This allowed us to watch the other teams go to work and try to reel them back. My teammates did an awesome job of going with any dangerous moves or bringing back anything we missed out on. The leaders put up a Herculean show of defiance, finally being brought back early on the fourth lap; gruppo compatto. Then the real fireworks began. Counter attack after counter attack. And the team star of the day, Luiggi, was still there mixing it up. We did well to cover all the moves. Halfway though the last lap and everybody was all together again. The sound of carbon wheels along the pavement, with very little talking, represented the calm before the storm.

The group made the left turn onto the final 3k stretch. Littered in bumps and patched pavement, attention to positioning was of utmost importance. At this point our revised team plan (without Scott Cox) was to have Hobbs and Oli lead Bromstead to the final turn, with him sprinting as hard as he could towards the finish and me coming off his wheel. The chaos and number of riders definitely made this challenging. As it turned out, I was on the left hand side and boxed in a bit with 50 meters to the final turn. I moved right and accelerated up the inside. Thankfully Oli was right ahead of me and I shouted "stay there, on your right". I squeezed by, allowing me to make up 8-10 places. As I exited the turn, miraculously Scott Bromstead was right there. I yelled 'go, go, go!' He hit it and only two riders were in front of him, Chris Baker followed closely by Sayers with a 10m gap. I could see Sayers waiting to make his move and knew I had to go. I sling-shotted off Bromstead and dug deep to reach Sayers and Baker. Momentum was in my side as the road kicked up, allowing me to squeak by them and cross the line first. MBFY!