By Dana Williams

April 24, 2016

Teammates: Scott Cox, Rob Amatelli, Oliver Ryan, John Barbicus

Plan: Three teammates were given the task to mark early moves and make sure TMBEquator had representation in any dangerous early breaks. Dana and Rob were our protected riders. They were to be attentive, watch the riders we considered threats and be there at the end to achieve our goal.

Summary: Water bottles filled with Osmo, pockets stuffed with ProBar goodies, skin lubed with Zealios sun barrier and all the right spots lathered with Betwixt chamois cream, the squad rolled to the line on our Specialized 'steed of choice (split between Venge Vias and Tarmac) and were ready to do battle. The race was 58 miles, four laps of the 14.5 mile loop, with a total elevation gain of about 4600 feet.

The first time up the steepest and most challenging climb of the day, Carroll Rd, was at a solid pace but nothing blistering.  About half way through the first lap, or to be exact, as we turned left onto Patterson Pass Rd. from Flynn Rd S, Jeremy Cottel accelerated off the front. Teammate Scott Cox was right there and followed Cottel, a smart move considering Cottle was one of the strongest riders in the field. This drew out five other riders, making a seven man break; Cottel (Specialized), Profumo (Lange Twins), Mai (Thirsty Bear), Boyton (Peets), Britt (Studio Velo) and Espinosa (Squadra). The break slowly drifted away from the peloton because all the strongest teams had representation.

On the second lap, the pace in the break quickened up Carroll Rd. causing Britt & Espinosa and lose contact and soon be absorbed by the peloton.  Now with Squadra and Studio Velo both out of the break, I believed they would come to the front and take up the chase. But this didn't really happen. Instead, for the next two laps there was some inconsistent effort/acclerations being put in by riders from Squadra, Thirsty Bear and with a few with no team affiliation. This made me believe that Thirsty Bear wasn't confident with their rider in the break, while also confusing me that Squadra wasn't doing much considering their strongest rider, Todd Markelz, was in the peloton.

Fast forward to just before the base of the Carroll Rd climb on the last lap, the moto referee rode up to us and said the gap to the break was three minutes. At this point I thought to myself, as I'm sure everybody else did too, 'OK, we are racing now for 6th place. I hope my teammate in the break gets the W'.

We started up the Carroll Rd climb for the final time and Rob went to the front and 'stretches his legs' a bit. By the top of the climb I believe the group has thinned out, but I can't look back because my tongue is hanging out of my mouth and I was trying to keep my heart from doing the same.  Phipps (Thirsty Bear), Metcalf (Peets) and Markelz decide to keep the foot on the gas and continue to drive the pace. As we approach the right turn onto Cross Rd from Patterson Pass Rd, I realize there are only five of us; the three just mentioned plus Rob and I. It then felt as though we decided to begin to attack each other, me thinking (and assuming others too) that we'd make the last half lap hard all for the glory of 6th place.

As we descend down Cross Rd and are about 200m from making the right turn onto Tesla Rd, Rob says to me 'Is that the break?' I scan down the road and see a few small groups, then I look closer and first notice Cottell is his Specialized kit. Next thing I now Rob is attacking off the front, with the others chasing him, trying to bridge up. We turn right onto Tesla Rd and are fast approaching the lead group, of which I'm sure they did not see us coming. My first thought, although now looking back may not have been the right one, was to attack and catch them off guard. TMBEquator now had three guys up here so we could play aggressive. I dig deep, my legs agree to a certain degree, then Ilook back and Phipps is bringing me back. As soon as he and the group catch me, Cox goes all in off the front. He's reeled back in just as we make the final turn onto Greenville.  I'm recovering from my move and not ideally positioned back around 7-8th. I know I need to be closer to the front as the we approach the final 200m finish ramp. The pace winds up and we start climbing. Rob goes early and is off the front. The group is spread across the road. I am approaching Rob and forced to go by on his left, as another rider is passing him on his right. It's Markelz and we are going headed to head with the finish line fast approaching.  My legs start shouting to me 'no, we can't turn circles anymore, just squares!' Markelz slowly moves past me and has enough to hit the line first. A well deserved win on his part considering how the race played out.

Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/555753251