2016 Watsonville Criterium for the (almost) win!

by Elise Hazlewood

Hope everyone had a good weekend of good stuff and sunshine! I finely have my legs back and am trying to get myself ready for San Rafael.  Essentially, some crit action was in order between now and the Big Race. I made it down to Watsonville for what turned out to be a fairly technical crit with 6 corners, a few of which had dipped gutters running across the street just before the corner.  A few of those corners had gritty pavement as well, plus there was a sharp < 90 degree turn, and a little bump to the finish. It was a small field of 8 - 4 JL Velo, 2 Cyclesport, and a couple freelancers. I felt like I had a shot at a podium. I also was feeling pretty good and therefore antsy. I attacked at the start of lap 3, got a good gap, but it all came back together by start of the 4th lap at which point I rolled over something and flatted spectacularly.  Didn't have a wheel and no one seemed to want to lend one, but at the last minute I had a loaner and was back in! Some moves were attempted and turned out later there were a few primes. I noticed some folks were attacking on the "climb" but then sitting up so I tried countering and attacking over the top and down the other side, especially since the next 2 turns were tough for me and thought I could take them better if I was in the front rather than the back. No one was getting away though and by 10 min in, our front group was down to 5. I thought it might be wise to conserve and follow things for a bit.  I tried again with 4 to go hoping maybe someone would join - got a good gap but again, went nowhere. JLVelo countered my move and was out there by herself, but Laurel brought down her gap, and on the last lap or so SVCS made a move and got a gap on the (reduced) field. The lone JLVelo was losing steam, SVCS was holding her lead in no man’s land, and Laurel was tired from her effort in closing the gap, etc. I jumped and passed JLVelo after the last corner but could not catch Sara (SVCS) and came in for 2nd, with Tiina hot on my tail. This is my first time as a cat 2 on the "real" podium in a non-masters field so even though small field and no big guns showed, it was exciting and a good confidence booster!