By: Dana Williams

2017 Santa Cruz Classic Criterium

Date: March 26, 2017

Teammates: Matt Adams, Oliver Ryan, Rob Amatelli, Scott Cox, Matthew Sloan, Josh Pizzica and Chris Hobbs

The plan: Make sure we have teammates represented in any breaks. If it comes down to a sprint then the lead out Dana.

Course: https://www.strava.com/segments/609611

Conditions: High 50’s/Low 60’s, a little wind and sunshine.

Summary
Before the festivities got underway, I sensed some pre-race jitters swelling up in my stomach and throat while I waited at the start line for the race to begin. I was reminded that this was my first race of the 2017 season and one of my main goals was to keep my bike up right and all my flesh intact. Those thoughts and feelings quickly faded when the whistle blew to start the race and I stepped down the Look pedals of my Specialized Venge Vias, accelerated and got the first shot of adrenaline.

The race was aggressive almost right from the very start. Your typical NorCal strong men were represented in the field including former world champion, Jeromy Cottell, Thirsty Bear tag team duo of Ariel Herrmann and Jan Weissenberger, and Olympic Club’s Chris Coble (who I like to tag as this seasons NorCal replica of Peter Sagan in the M123 field because he’s been consistently all over podium) and fortunately for me lots of strong proven teammates. There were so many different moves off the front that it's hard to remember them all but I do know that I felt very comfortable that my teammates were marking them and representing us. This took the pressure off to chase so I could wait for the right opportunity. My main goal was to not miss out on a break that included any of the above mentioned pre-race favorites.

At around 30 minutes into the race, as I exited the final turn close to the front, I pushed on the pedals a little harder than usual to see what would happen. I got some space off the front and was quickly joined by Ariel Herrmann. Looking back and having 20/20 hindsight vision, this was a perfect rider to join me. Ariel is very strong and isn't afraid to work, plus his ‘team sprinter’, Jan Weissenberger, was back in the field and wouldn't likely be chasing. I don't recall it being very long before Chris ‘Sagan’ Coble bridged up to us, but to my ‘excite’ in tow was my teammate Chris Hobbs. And I believe Chris Cain of Squadra joined at the same time. From what I recall, we worked pretty well together, with the occasional attack. Fortunately Chris was riding super strong and was on everything I wasn’t able to cover. He too must have been sipping Gu Hydration from his water bottle to keep his energy high. Next thing I recall is looking back and seeing another rider getting close to bridging up. I did a double check and was happy to see another teammate, Rob Amatelli, about to join the party. He also had a rider on his wheel, Jeromy Cottell. Now with three teammates in the break of seven, I felt pretty confident on how things would play out and our chances of success.

Fast forward to halfway through the last lap and Rob is on the front, followed by Chris Coble and me on his wheel. A little encouragement to Rob as we went up the small rise before the final turn kept the pace high enough that nobody took a late lap flyer. We exited the final turn and almost immediately Chris Coble got out of the saddle and started winding it up for a sprint. We crested of the short riser and continued on the false flat. At around 150 m to the line dug deep and accelerated up along the right side of him. As we hit the finish line I had about a half bike advantage for the win.

Thanks to all my teammates for solid racing.

Strava file: https://www.strava.com/activities/915999454

L-R: Rob Amatelli, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Chris Coble, Chris Cain

L-R: Rob Amatelli, Jeromy Cottel, Dana Williams, Chris Coble, Chris Cain