Coming off of a big block of racing with San Dimas, CCCX, Sea Otter, and Copperopolis now is a good time to reflect on the highs and lows of these races. Each race has its own story, and one of the main themes that prevailed was the importance of teamwork.
At San Dimas, with Nick, Matt, and Sean, I rode the cat two race. The first stage was a roughly 4 mile uphill time trial that took the fastest cat two just under fifteen and a half minutes to complete. I warmed up and was feeling good. The adrenaline and excitement of racing pumped through my veins as the starter was holding me. 5…4…3…2…1 and I was off. I went out too hard and paid for it in the last few kilometers. I ended up 19th, about a minute and a half down on the leader.
The next day was the road race. Without anyone in contention for GC our plan was be aggressive in the first two and a half laps of the seven-lap race, in hope of forming a break that would shake up the GC standings. We did exactly that. The second time up the feed zone climb I followed a move initiated by Gavin Hoover. The two of us rotated for a lap and then were joined by three other riders. One of the riders quickly attacked our group and I followed. The two of us continued for another lap until we were joined by three others, including Nick and second place on GC. This group of five buried ourselves until we were brought back; just as we heard the bell for one lap to go and Dave Towle screaming his trademark ONE TO GO, ONE TO GO, ONE TO GO. Nick and my efforts had set up Sean perfectly to follow the counter attack and outsprint his companions for the win. After the stage he was tied with me for the sprint competition (I picked up points while I was off the front). The day could not have gone much better for us as a team; we set a plan, executed the plan, and won the race as a team; I was happy to have played a supportive role.
In the crit, the team goal was to maintain Sean’s lead in the sprint competition and hopefully lead him out for another stage win. We remained aggressive and keen for breakaway opportunities. Both Nick and I followed various moves, allowing Sean to sit in and save for the sprints. In addition to covering moves Nick, Matt, and I led Sean out and he picked up points in the intermediate sprints, adding to his lead. For the final sprint we started our lead out train too early and were unable to deliver another stage victory.
Sea Otter saw a different side of the teamwork coin. In both 17-18 races we were on the receiving end of well-executed teamwork with five HotTubes riders running the show, trading turns attacking and counter attacking until they formed a break that they liked. Unlike San Dimas, we were not the dominant team, and on this occasion we learned the importance teamwork from the receiving end. However, the my 15-16’s teammates proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, going 1, 2, 3, 4 in the circuit race and 1, 2 in the road race with impressive shows of teamwork.
These early season races have been great learning experiences and have prepped us well for the rest of the season. We now turn towards the build up to Nationals, which is ten weeks away.