When we left our Donner Lake condo to ride to the criterium, it was raining. Having been in the 90s all week, the rain felt refreshing and I was excited about the prospect of racing on wet roads. The course was a technical 6-turn 1km loop with narrow sections and rough pavement. Add wet pavement and the course really played to our skill set of getting into a breakaway and staying away, avoiding a field sprint at the end of the race.
As we lined up for the start, the rain stopped. I was disappointed but still confident that the course was tough enough dry. Right from the gun there were attacks, and quickly a group of 10 including myself and Dave Santos had ripped off of the front and gained a 12 second lead. At this point, there was a crash and the race was stopped for 20 minutes to allow an ambulance to take an injured rider to the hospital. After the race I was dismayed to learn that the injured rider was a friend of ours, Steven Davis, and that he had broken his femur. We are all wishing Steven a speedy recovery and hope to see him back racing soon.
Once the race was back under way, Dave and I knew it was time to start attacking our breakaway. 10 riders is better than 100, but ideally we would like to only worry about beating 1 or 2 riders on the final lap. Dave threw down a monster attack, but defending champion Daniel Holloway chased him back. As soon as Dave was back, I attacked and within a lap, I had a 10 second gap solo. I knew this was good and I put my head down and dug, slowly increasing my lead up to 20 seconds. At this point, I had about 15 laps left in the race and the field was all together behind me and multiple teams were working to chase me down. I knew it would be close, but I kept fighting through every lap like it was my last.
With 5 laps to go the field was only 5 seconds back and I knew it was time to catch my breath and try to jump into good position when they caught me. I sat up and sprinted onto Holloway’s wheel. It was a tough wheel to fight for, but I managed to stay on Holloway’s wheel and going in to the last two turns, I sprinted around him. I came out of the last turn in first with 100 meters to go and sprinted with all I had, but Holloway was just able to come around me.
I would have liked to win, but I came out of this race with the satisfaction that I had played every card I had and in the end, I was simply out-sprinted by a stronger sprinter. Everyone contributed to my 2nd place. I was able to break away only by countering Dave’s initial attack and while off the front, Brian McCulloch and Shawn Wayland were helping disrupt the chase in the field. It was a great race to end our 3 week trip on and we all enjoyed a well deserved burger that night.
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, NDXSports, Bike Religion, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, Kramp Krushers, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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