The Holiday Inn Road Race, stage two, of the Chico Stage Race was set in the beautiful rolling hills of Northern California. We had a good day the day before placing 2rd in the Friday afternoon circuit race, winning the Young Rider Jersey, and we were all ready for road race. We raced two 45 mile laps with each lap containing 5 miles of dirt road. We placed a high importance on entering the dirt section first and looking after Chris Barton and Fabrizio Von Nacher as we knew they were our best bets for a good time trial the following day, making them our best general classification cards to play.
There was a lot of fighting in the 11 miles just before the dirt. We did an OK job of being top 20 riders to enter the dirt, and then I immediately see Chris Barton raise his hand, he had flatted. Shawn Wayland and myself waited as our mechanic and sponsor Gary Rennie jumped out for the wheel change. Luckily our team car was first car in the caravan so we didn’t have to wait long. Shawn and I started the chase to get Chris back in the action. I then got a flat tire and Paul and Gary changed that and the team car was then ahead of me.
Next thing I know I see Wayland getting a wheel change by Paul and Gary. I slowed and waited for Wayland as Barton had already made it up the road. I then see Chris standing on the side of the road with another flat. This time the team car was ahead of us and one of us would be waiting – potentially for a long while – for neutral support. I figured if Chris or I was going to be time cut, it was better me than him because of his potential for the time trial win or podium the following day.
The SRAM neutral support finally showed and I was back pounding the pedals in hopes of making the time cut. Myself and two other riders rode through many small groups who were less motivated to ride. We made the time cut. I later learned that Brian, Ulisis, and Fabi were in the front group of 50 riders. On the second lap after the dirt section the field split and a group of 15-20 riders were up the road. Our guys missed the split and therefore, Fabi finished a slight bit over 1 minute down on the lead group.
Although this was a challenging day for the team, it was a great practice in teamwork, coming together for a common goal and being 100% committed to the plan. Having the chance to work on changing wheels in stressful situations as well as pace a teammate back up to the field will pay off big time when we head to the bigger races this season.
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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