Saturday’s Rosena Ranch Circuit Race turned out to be quite a good event. The race allowed our KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo riders and support crew to do what they do best: race a great heads-up, strategic race.
The race course looks fairly simple on paper, but can be quite challenging due to the tight turnaround a couple of short rolling hills and lots of crosswind. To race this race effectively, a rider and his or her team have to be well organized with a solid starting strategy, and be ready to change it all on the fly.
The first lap started off at a steady pace but after just a moment or so the attacks started. The race covered 25 laps on the short 2 mile course in would take about 2 hours to complete at race-pace. This doesn’t sound like a long time, but the race usually comes down to just a few riders at the end because of the intensity and aggression of the attacks the riders would launch.
After several attacks went and were recollected on the opening laps, a breakaway was established which quickly gained 30 seconds on the field. The group had 4 riders, one of them being a KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo rider of Duban Sanchez. This situation was decent being 1 in 4 chance of winning out of the breakaway. It was also a good position because we had three of us remaining in the field, ready for the reshuffle and opportunity to go up the road in another move.
With David Santos, Shawn Daurelio and myself being patient in the field, we were able to sit-on and not do work, forcing the other riders to the front if they want to stay in contention for the finish of the race. This put Duban in a good situation not having to work hard in the break. It also allows us in the pack to relax, while our competitors have to work hard if they want to stay in race contention by reeling this breakaway back.
Now if this breakaway is to come back, then we just simply reshuffle and send another one of our riders up the road. This process will continue till the field is too exhausted or uninterested in the chase and once this happens its now time for the rider in the breakaway to figure out how to best play his hand to win while the remaining members of the team in the field setup for a field sprint. In a perfect world, this strategy would happen every time, but we are all well aware that the world is not perfect and neither is a bike race.
In this instance, Duban got a mechanical which took him our of the breakaway. Now that the team did not have a rider up the road, it is a very bad situation because we now needed to work hard to bridge the 30 seconds to the break up the road. Our next move was tough but necessary if we wanted to have a chance to win the race.
Dave, Shawn and I went to the front, riding just hard enough so that we wouldn’t blow up, but also make a steady gain on the riders up the road. Putting the whole team at the front looks really cool on TV, but in real-time it is brutally hard because you are towing the whole field at the expense of a huge amount of energy from our riders.
After several laps of consistent efforts, the gap came down to just a small margin. This created the perfect situation for a counter attack, where the field has almost caught the break the pace slows down just a second or so, and someone uses their momentum and launches another attack. This move was deadly because everyone was exhausted. Dave and I were able to join the new group of riders that would become the new breakaway.
We had just spent the last 20 minutes riding the fastest pace possible, and then we had to dig again with an all-out sprint to cross gap, then settle right back to the previous pace with no breaks. The effort spelled the end of the race for about half the field in just a few seconds. After the new breakaway was established with 8 riders, the attacks started again. Having a 1 in 8 odds to win is not very good for anyone, so every rode aggressively to create a smaller group up the road.
At this point, we were halfway through the race and Dave and I were still battling the volley of attacks and counter attacks. Racers began to crack and were unable to cover moves any longer due to extreme fatigue, which separated Dave and I into the two front groups.
With 3 laps to go, and a huge amount of effort in everyones legs, I saw an opportunity to make a move when a single rider made a jump and I followed. Once he had exhausted his sprint, I countered and was able to punch free taking one rider with me. I was able to fight my way into the final move of two of us, which had been the team goal from the beginning. In the finish, I came in 2nd knowing our entire team had exhausted every opportunity for the win. All and all, it was a very successful day for racing for the KHS-Maxxis-JLVelo team and as we prepare to head back East for a large block of racing which promises to provide exciting and challenging opportunities for everyone on the team.
Thank you to our sponsors: KHS Bicycles, Maxxis Tires, JLVelo, Serfas, Shimano, Velo Saddles, Praxis Works, Xpedo Pedals, Kali Protectives, Infinit Nutrition, Bicycle Blue Book, WD-40 BIKE, Chamois Butt’r, Cycling Illustrated, Rennie & Associates, 4iiii, Big Wheel Coaching, Ultra Cycle, and Q2.
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