By David Santos
The CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team had returned from racing the Cascade Cycling Classic, which is an awesome 6 day NRC stage race, jam packed with challenging climbs, in Beautiful Bend, Oregon. Due to the large and extremely competitive field of riders this year, Cascade was difficult, but on the bright side, we came home with great fitness as we entered into the tail end of the racing season.
The weekend following Cascade was the San Marcos Criterium, which, although technically a “criterium”, seems more like a circuit race. The lap is a mile long and has a steep hill, approximately 100 meters, going into the last turn which finishes on a false flat. The CashCall riders racing were Michael Weicht, Fabrizio Von Nacher, Brian McCulloch, and myself, David Santos. The day before the race, Fabi and Michi, along with Devan Dunn and Chris Barton, had just completed their 650 mile costal tour of California from Stockton to Long Beach following the Cascade Cycling Classic. The guys had a great time, and although I wish I could have made the journey with them, I must admit, I did enjoy the extra room in the van on the way home from Bend.
Once the race began, attacks started from the gun. Within the first lap, the field was strung out as many teams launched attacks in an effort to establish a break early on. Additionally, there were primes offered nearly ever other lap, which motived many riders to continue attacking. After spending the first 15 minutes of the race covering moves, the CashCall crew took advantage of a lull in activity and launched our first offensive move of the day, with Brian, Fabi, Michi and I taking turns attacking the field.
About 30 minutes into the 75 minute event, a break Brian was in was reeled back in by the field. The field sat up and I saw a great opportunity to attack once again. I unleashed everything I had, and after completing nearly 1 lap solo, a handful of riders bridged across to join me. We working together for a few laps and were eventually joined by another couple of riders who bridged from the field, including CashCall’s Michi and Fabi. We were now a break of 9 and we worked together to create a sizable gap on the field. However, the break was not content and after several more laps a few of the riders in the break, including Michi and Fabi, began to attack. These attacks soon began to take their toll and everyone in the break started hurting pretty badly. At one point I found myself gapped off the back with two other riders. After crawling my way back to the break, I sat in for another half lap as I tried to recover. Meanwhile, the break had lost organization, and riders began to sit up to wait and see who would make the next move. At that moment, while the riders in the break tried to recover, I decided to launch one final attack while I still had some gas left in the tank. I again attacked with all I had, and instantly established a gap off the front. I looked back, and saw one rider, Brandon Gritters, following my move.
With five laps to go, the two of us worked together to establish a gap on the rest of the break. Two laps later, to my surprise, Michi, Fabi and one other rider bridged across to Gritters and me. The break now consisted of 5 riders with 3 laps to go, three from CashCall Cycling! For the next lap, we continued to work together and with 1 1/2 laps to go, Michi, Fabi and I began to simultaneously attack the other two riders. Ultimately Michi attacked solo up the road, while Fabi and I sat in with the other two riders, forcing them to work in order to bring Michi back. On the final climb, Michi still had a sizable gap, and Fabi still had a lot left in his legs. Fabi attacked the final climb and bridged to Michi with 100 meters to go. Michi, being the awesome teammate he is, held off to let Fabi take the win on his 20th birthday. I continued to sit on the other two riders, and with 100 meters to go, began my sprint to claim third. In the end, Cashcall swept the podium taking 1, 2 and 3, Brian took the field spring to finish 10th for the day.
I was amazed at how strong Michi and Fabi rode, especially considering just the day before, they had finished their 650 mile journey from Stockton. It was impressive to say the least. All in all, it was a great day for CashCall Cycling. As always, it was a blast to be back in southern California and race at a local criterium with my teammates.