Just me and Matt Moran in this one. We were hoping to get something going off the front, but this one was too fast and the field wasn't letting anything go. (Which isn't to say I didn't burn a lot of matches trying, of course.)
With one to go I moved up the left, out of the wind, but found myself at the front, looking for a wheel to hide behind. Then I saw Julian attack hard up the left. I set off in pursuit. I'm not even sure whether I got a gap, but by the time I caught him on the backstretch the pack was on top of us and I'd only succeeded in leading everyone out. I tried to hold ground up the hill but got swarmed on both sides and rolled in 20somethingth. A big fat meh.
Going into this race I knew it would be another Mack vs. Lucas Oil throwdown, as both were well represented in the field. Representing the good guys were just me and Kyle Wiberg.
It's a tough situation to race in. You're not the strongest, you don't have many teammates and you know there's going to be a flurry of attacks until a break finally sticks. You have to try to cover the moves, but doing so is like fishing without a worm: You have nothing to offer the fish, but toss that empty hook into the water enough times and you might eventually get lucky and snag something big.
A few laps laps in I sucked a Mack rider's wheel as he bridged to Lucas Oil's Mark Swartzendruber up the road. The winning break would have these two teams ... might as well try this one out.
As Druber came off a pull I took the opportunity to tell him how much I liked his blog. (I only wish he would post the power readings from his workouts. It would spice things up and provide some dramatic arc.)
Soon we had a total of five riders, but Mack and the Druber were taking the longest, hardest pulls. By my reckoning we had about a 100-meter gap. Ellen tells me it was more like 2 seconds. I'd like to think that we were going so fast that we both were right.
I took short pulls, but after a lap one rider was already saying he couldn't contribute and was making the mercy plea of the passenger: "I won't sprint!" "I won't sprint either," I joked, "but that's only because I'm not very good at it!"
Needless to say, it's not a good sign when 40 percent of your break is negotiating like this when you're only two laps into the break and you still have 30 minutes to go. Experienced riders that they were, Druber and Mack recognized us for barnacles and pulled the plug. We were soon caught.
Immediately, the real break went down the road -- 1 Lucas Oil, 1 Mack, no barnacles -- and it became a race for 3rd.
I made a few feeble bridge attempts over the next 20 minutes, but the blockers weren't letting anything get away. In the last few laps I had good position up front, and I had a great view as Kyle Wiberg made an impressive flier attempt with 1 to go. He had a nice gap coming out of Turn 4, but unfortunately got caught. I think I was so distracted by his awesomeness that I lost track of the wheel I was following and I was again swarmed and losing ground, finishing the sprint mid-pack.
"Didja see me?" I asked Ellen after the race. "I was in a break with The Druber!"
Indeed she had seen me. I don't think she was as impressed as I was. She even showed me pictures. "You need a meaner race face." She showed a picture of Swartzendruber. He was grimacing and looking mean. Then she showed a picture of me. I was sticking my tongue out and fluffing my mullet.
More mean, less barnacle. Got it.