As I noted in my last report, Tom wife, Andrea, was invaluable to us during our trip. She was aces on hand-ups and prepped all our post-race meals, meaning recovery and relaxation were all we had to worry about each evening.

She was also useful for gathering intelligence. The evening after the circuit race, for example, she overheard a rider in the kitchen say to another: "I just came here for a workout and maybe some upgrade points, but then those guys from Chicago came and turned it into a race!"

That was pretty cool to hear.

Hanging out in the feed zone, she also learned that criterium racing was not exactly a much-practiced art in these parts. So it was, then, that we were licking our chops for Monday's criterium. Time for a lesson in Chicago-style racing.

The course was a fun one and very technical: Six corners, with a big climb up one side and shallow climbs over two others. It was only 1km, so there was very little opportunity for rest or recovery.

There would be sprints every five laps for either points or time bonuses. Dave was our GC guy, holding a tight lead over 6th place and just 24 seconds out of 4th. Our priority would be to get him a bonus so he could chill for the rest of the race and we could focus on getting Tom or Peter a good finish. They had struggled over the hills of the road races, but this would be their chance to shine.

They start races differently out in Vermont.

The race started with a scrum to line up on a side street. This was the race before the race before the race before the race before the race.

Then a barrier was let down and we inched onto the course. This was the race before the race before the race before the race.

Then there were call-ups, after which we again inched forward to the actual start line, scrambling for good position. This was the race before the race before the race.

Then the pace car led us for a "neutral" free lap, neutral in that nobody attacked but everybody surged forward, jostling for air. It was like the start of a cyclocross race. This, finally, was the race before the race.

And then the pace car accelerated. We were racing -- and racing fast, right from the gun.

Now, I'm not the world's best handler on technical courses, but all those hard Superweek races were paying dividends. I started with lousy position, but in each corner I was able to move up a few spots, simply by taking a clever line and pedaling through.

That said, I still don't think I ever made it up to more than 30th position. The other guys, meanwhile, were killing it up front. With a short course and so many sprints, it was like a points race, so their track experience came in handy.

How handy? Dave started 24 seconds out of 4th place. First place in each of the three sprints earned 8 seconds. Thanks to some killer leadouts, Dave was able to sweep the sprints, earning all 24 seconds he needed.

Then it was time for the finish. Tom was our guy, but he unfortunately got boxed in near the finish, so our top finish was Peter with a respectable 7th.

And Dave's GC? To resolve the tie, officials went to Friday's time trial results to plum out fractions of seconds -- and Dave fell short by a mere 4/10ths of a second. Rats!

Nonetheless, we ended the weekend with top 10 finishes, a top 5 GC and a whole lot of fun. There's no doubt this was a successful expedition.

And hats off to the organization here. This was by far my favorite stage race and four of my favorite individual races. Thanks to the sprint and mountain competitions, there was something for everyone, and the courses were all fantastic. Now that we all have a little more experience, we can't wait to come back next year -- and I hope we can bring a few more strong racers with us us.