The 17-18 Road National Championship Race held in Bend, Oregon was 113k consisting of four 27k circuits with two climbs per lap. This was to be my last chance to earn a national junior championship and I was determined to give everything I had. Team Specialized fielded a team of eight: Andrew Lanier, Andrew Bennett, Daniel Tisdell, David Benkowski, Eamon Lucas, James LaBerge and Torey Phillip.
Knowing there would be over 125 starters, I made sure to get a spot on the front row to avoid all the craziness that usually accompanies a neutral start. There were no crashes in the neutral section, but almost as soon as the race started and, unfortunately, Torey got caught up in a bad crash that took him out of the race. After this, I made sure to stay up front for the rest of the first lap to stay out of any trouble. On the first climbs everyone surged as usual. In an effort to conserve as much as possible I spun up the climbs and would drift nearly to the back, wait for the pace to slow down to move to the front and then stay there until the next climb. My teammates, David Benkowski and Andrew Lanier, both moved me up on several occasions, so I could spend as little time in the wind as possible. Thanks guys.
Coming into the first climb on the third lap there was a group of 7 two minutes ahead and Andrew Bennett and a chase group of ten had just been reeled in. Andrew Lanier and I tried to sneak off the front before the climb, but we were immediately chased down. Our move was countered on the climb and a group of 8 very strong riders had a ten second gap on the field. I traded a few pulls with Juan Carmona before moving back to rest when I saw that this group was going to get caught but Lawson and Tanner Putt countered immediately they were caught. They got a lot of time very quickly so there was no time to try and bridge. On the final lap I saw Daniel Farinha, SJBC, making a move. With nine riders up the road there was nothing to lose and so I bridged and we started to work together. We got out of the field’s sight, but were brought back within five minutes. On the second to last climb I attacked again just about where Billy had advised and didn’t look back. I made sure to push really hard after the top of the climb as both Charlie Avis and Billy had said I could pick up a lot of time this way. At that stage the motor said we were 1min and 25 secs behind Craddock’s lead group. Charlie yelled encouragement to me and Daniel Farinha who was the only rider who stayed with me. Over the last climb we caught the remnants of an earlier break. I jumped as hard as I could before catching them, however, two riders were able to stay with Daniel and me. I felt that if we worked together we had a good chance of catching the leaders and knew that Lawson was about twenty seconds in front. At this point, I was still racing for the win and worked harder than the others who may have been racing for 3rd. With 700m to go I realized I had worked too hard and would not factor in any sprint so I tried an attack over the last little roller; I didn’t get a large enough gap and finished 6th place overall but we had pulled Craddock, possibly the best rider in the USA, back over a minute.
This was my last National’s junior race. I gave all for the win but missed the podium as a result. I want to thank Larry, Billy Team Specialized and my teammates for all their support.