Already a bit frustrated on my season, I came into this race focused on Copperopolis but hoping for a decent result. I knew it would be windy and relatively flat, conditions that should suit my skills pretty well. Goal: Stay towards the front, watch the moves and when the strong guys go, go with them. Only problem was that I didn’t know what the fast guys looked like.
Sacramento = Wind. Remember that. Snelling was windy but the race dynamics where different and the winds didn’t really blow until the 2nd lap. Zamora was blowing from the gun. So I warmed up for 45min on the road, riding the first stretch into the wind and then went back to the the last 2miles and short climb to see the finish. Perfect warm-up and ready for action. Keep in mind, I’m definitely one who needs a longer warm-up.
I’m sitting the front row waiting for the start and then the Starter tells us to push back behind the barn so we don’t get cold. They were still waiting to clear the course which took another good 20minutes. So that’s about 30min total of down time and nullified the warm-up. We rolled out and it was casual…down to the first corner which was 200 meters into the race. Then you could already feel the angst in the group. Take the right hander and were 3minutes into the race and the attacks began–not in earnest but just testing the group into the headwind. Take a right about 8minutes later and it was heavy crosswinds and slight climb. Now it was game time, a small group moved off the front. I was back 30 guys or so (1 lane/yellow line rule). I moved up and bridged the gap. Coming from 30 back I was pretty gassed so I sat on–a number of Specialized and Morgan Stanley/Spine guys were up there along with Dan Martin. This was a good group. I felt fine as a number of guys at the front started taking rotations. I just sat in–not easy at all but I felt ok considering the lack of warm-up and being 10min into the race.
I looked back and saw the group closing. They were 30m behind and had closed the gap so I decided to fall off and rest waiting for the next attack. Little did I know, the group behind was single file and splintering except for the 5 in an echelon at the front. And that was it. That was as close they got to the break–that I was in and misread. Note to self: Either commit to a break or don’t waste your time. Don’t half-ass it. What’s the use!
15min into the race, the Group was completely broken apart and there wasn’t an easy place to be. There was no place to hide in the crosswind. End of the first lap (10miles) and there were guys all over the road–small groups of 8-10 and 1-2s and guys everywhere and I sat there watching the first break maintain a good 20 second lead. When we turned into the headwind to start lap2, there where three groups and I was in the second group, up to 20 guys by now. We didn’t want the third group to catch us with another 15 guys–everyone else was gone. In 25min from the gun, the race went from 70 guys to 45.
I worked hard at the front of the group but no one had a lot of interest to keep the 2nd group from catching us so at the beginning of Lap 3, group 2&3 integrated. I had worked too hard so I went to the back to recover. I moved around in the group and stayed towards the front in the crosswinds and on the climbs for the next 1 1/2 laps. By then the group was down to 25 or so and as we approached the crosswind section on lap 4 I found myself hanging on the back. Not a smart place to be–I think I had just fallen asleep at the wheel. I was fighting for every inch on the shoulder and got bumped into the gravel losing a few bikes lengths. I didn’t panic as I fell off the back but my legs didn’t respond either. So the gap slowly inched open and that was it. I chased and passed different guys who fell off after I did. Coming into the climb to finish Lap 4 I had pulled the group back to within 30m. I was almost there as we crested the climb but then you turn left into a cross-wind and that was it. That was as close as I got.
From there I just kept my head down and TT’d solo for the next 2 laps to the finish passing a few guys along the way and picking one guy for the last lap who helped a little but then fell off on the final climb. I just held it steady and only gave up 2min or so to the group over the last 90minutes of racing. When I crossed the line someone shouted out “17th”–not too bad until I checked online and it read “25th”–more air getting punched out. Another lesson learned. If you go with a break–commit to it–don’t worry about counter attacks, don’t worry about the group behind you–just commit to whatever you’re doing.
Season Recap: Bad racing tactics. In three races I’ve been in the winning break 2x (Merc, 23rd & Zamora, 25th) and made decisions that cost me good results. Hopefully I’ll learn from my mistakes and have the legs to get there one day. Berkeley TTT was a great day, as we improved our time by 1:43 (40:47 from 42:34) from last year good for 5th overall.
Next Stop: Copperopolis