Upon arriving to the Ontario Criterium on Sunday, I was greeted by the same intense heat of Saturday’s hill climb and a properly stiff breeze. It almost made me think I had stepped into a convection oven instead of our industrial park criterium playground.
There is no secret that I love racing my bike. As much as I did enjoy the TT on Saturday, it was the highlight of my day to see my teammates and trade jokes before we suited up for the days racing event. The plan for the day was simple – race smart. However, that is not nearly as easy as it sounds especially for me. I tend to ride hard for the simple enjoyment of smashing it.
With an appropriate pep-talk from Paul and then some written notes for reinforcement, I was ready to race patiently and look for opportunities to use our tactics to force the race to be hard. The words of wisdom from Paul made a significant difference. My teammates and I were immediately on the ‘front foot’ throughout the race which meant we were able to use each other to set up tactical advantages. We repeatedly had at least one and sometimes three riders in any sizable move that went away.
It was clear that the strong riders in the race came prepared to race hard and this was no cake walk. At differing times in the race each of my teammates were on the limit, myself included, maybe more than I would like to admit. After all of the attacking and counter attacking, always with a KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO rider making the move, the peloton started to soften and the gaps started to become harder to claw back. It was at this time that I saw an opportunity to attack. My teammate Steven Davis had just been on the attack with Shan D’Aurellio and as their move was absorbed by the peloton, I kicked hard to go off the front. Luckily, Corey Greenberg did so at the same time with his attack caming from the opposite side of the peloton and we met off the front and proceeded to go about the business of establishing a solid gap.
Corey was quite strong in the breakaway and took hard pulls while we established the move and solidified our gap. There was still over thirty minutes of racing remaining in the event as he an I attacked. If this were to be the move, we would have to earn it as the field was not going to give up to a two-man breakaway. As the riders in the peloton attacked and counter attacked to form a chase group that would most certainly bridge the gap to Corey and I, we were pulling as hard as we could to put as much time as possible between us and the chasing field. Eventually a chase group was formed and, as you would expect, I had a teammate in the move. David Santos had been attentive enough to catch a free ride into the chase group and was able to capitalize on the other riders work to get away from the rest of the field. This did not allow me to ease off the my responsibilities in the front of the race, there was still a lot of work to be done!
After we had been out in front of the field for thirty minutes Corey and I still had a solid gap on the field, but both of us were running out of steam. The heat, intensity, and wind were all starting to take its toll on us. Luckily one lap later we saw the lap cards come out at the start/finish line and we got a much needed jolt of enthusiasm. Corey and I continued to work together until two laps to go when he tried to attack me and head to the finish solo. I could not let that happen, however strong the attack was I had to catch on. I had to fight back and get to the wheel and it didn’t matter how much I hurt or how much I was suffering, I had to do it. I had to do it for Paul, for the guys, for our sponsors, and for myself.
I fought back on and Corey tried again…this attack was done in a tailwind which leaves the tactical advantage to the attacker. I clawed my way back just in time to be ready for the headwind section when I was to see Paul going wild and telling me that Santos was coming across to me solo. This meant that the burden was on Corey and now I had a free ride for the rest of the race. The result was in Corey’s hands, he could risk losing to me in the sprint or play cat and mouse in hopes that Santos did not catch us, which would almost certainly mean that Santos and I would go 1-2 on the day.
In the end, Corey and I stayed away to the line and jumped with everything I had for a final sprint that may have even impressed my teammate and sprinter extraordinaire, Fabrizio Von Nacher. if not with speed and form, but definitely with determination. I came around Corey and pushed all the way through the line, risking nothing to make sure I did not get passed in the final meters of the race.
With excitement, I turned to see Santos smashing across the line for 3rd with an impressive turn of speed. In the end our KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO team went 1st and 3rd on the day and also had Steven Davis in the money so it was a good day all around.
Although every win is special, this victory was very special for the way in which we, as a team, executed our strategy, with everyone playing a critical role. Sergio, D’Aurellio, Steven, Santos, and I all raced smart and hard. As I said earlier, I love racing bikes, but the component I love most is executing a strategy with precision. When each rider plays their part beyond their capacities the result is always memorable.
I could not have achieved this result without the support, guidance, patience, and encouragement of many people. With that said I would like to thank each of our generous sponsors, without you the KHS-Maxxis-JAKROO team would not be possible. I would also like to thank Oren Mitz, Gary Rennie, Danny Munson, Paul Abrahams, my lovely wife JoyJoy, and my coach Mr. Shirley. I am encouraged and inspired by each of you, thank you for always believing in me!
Looking forward to the next race it is my hope that I can again be a part of a winning strategy, no matter what result that leaves me with, if we as a team execute to perfection I am confident that the result will be worth while.
Until next time, be safe, ride hard, and have fun,
The post A Blustery Criterium: Ontario Summer’s End Grand Prix, By Brian McCulloch appeared first on KHS MAXXIS JAKROO Cycling Race Team 2014.