After 5 years of doing Dana Point Gran Prix, I have acquired a love-hate relationship with the race. It is one of those races where everything can go perfect and you do well, or everything goes wrong and you do horrible. I have experience both at this race.
This year, I set out to be aggressive and race for a break since our team did not have any of our pure sprinters participating. With a stacked field containing all the best criterium racers and teams in the country, our plan was to race for a breakaway.
As the gun went off, it was an immediate drag race through the first few turns. Guys were attacking off the line and within seconds the field was strung out single file. After a couple laps, a group of about 10 got off the front. I saw Chris was up there so we were able to relax for a moment to see what was going to happen. It didn’t take too long before the “last ditch efforts” to bridge across began to take place. The group continued to grow but from what I could see, only a few riders were committed to driving it as the others just wanted to represent their team and get a free ride. By this time the 12 guys grew to 15 or so, and it looked like there was even more confusion than before. I realize there may be a major split in the field if all this attacking continues so I began to move up and position myself in the top 15. At one point, I was getting ready to try and jump across, but I noticed the front group was starting to come back.
A lap later, the field was back together. More attacks began and I started looking for the good wheels to follow. Ultimately, I was on Ty Magner’s (Hincapie) wheel when he decided to attack. An Astellas and UHC rider went with him, and I set chase to see if I could join the trio. I caught the three of them right after the first turn and immediately, we had a gap. Everyone put their head’s down, went to work, and before we knew it, our 6 second gap grew to 25 seconds.
The four of us worked together for the next 50 minutes, basically until 6 laps to go. We still had about 30 seconds on the field when all of a sudden, attacks started flying. Two other riders managed to finally catch us after trying to bridge for several laps. The 6 of us continued to attack each other. I got off the front with 4 laps to go, but eventually got caught a lap later. There was some more reshuffling, attacking, etc. for the next 2 laps. Due to the relentless attacks, our group of 6 was split into 2 groups going into the last lap. I was in the second group, completely exhausted but managed to grab a wheel of the other two who were continuing to chase. The front three riders let up just enough for the three of us to finally catch up, but with less than half a lap to go, the final pushes for the finish line begun. I was 6th wheel going into two turns to go and I knew I needed to be 2nd or 3rd before the final turn. Going up the last little incline before the 2nd to last turn, I went all in and came around the last turn next to the Astellas rider who was 3rd wheel. I opened up my sprint in his draft hoping to have enough to come around him for 3rd, but ended up finishing 4th on the day.
All-in-all, it was an incredible day for KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo. We laid it all on the line and in the end, we executed our plan of being in the break and taking it to the line.
After racing five DPGP’s, this has been my best result to date. I couldn’t have done it without my team, sponsors, and family. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get to where I am and for all these incredible opportunities I have had with this program.
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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