I knew the race was going to be fast with numerous well planned out attacks…I was correct. The course was flat with 4 left hand turns and a section of brick road before the start finish which did nothing except rattle your water bottle so that it sprayed on your leg. As we got into the first 10 minutes, attacks started to go off. Ed was normally chilling mid pack or closer to the front with Chris L. always close behind…or in front. I was all over the field. I spent the first portion of the race covering attacks and attacking myself.
Once I cooked my jump I knew that there was only one way to win, and that was to get into a break. With Serifan (Sp?) sitting in and me jumping all over the place I new that I could not contest the sprint like I would like to, so I rested. Around 20 minutes left I started to pay very close attention to what was going on up front. As I came from the back I found Ed in the pack and asked him how he was feeling, he said fine. He had already done the Elite Masters Race earlier in the day and done well, but I just wanted to make sure he was not cramping or anything. Chris was covering attacks throughout the race and getting in some breaks that did not stick. Once I got to the front I saw about 8 riders up the rode. This was too large of a number to let roll off the front so I jumped and bridged up to it. When I arrived, I looked back to see the pack strung out behind…the field was back together.
After that attacks were relentless, I was covering a majority of them. Some promising but we would get caught. As Richard (WDT) and I were off, I looked back to see the pack charging, we looked at each other and sat up. When the front of the pack had latched on Richard went again, I sat at the front looking over both shoulders to see who was going to go. I looked forward and to my left to see a Get a Grip rider looking like he was preparing to launch, he did. I jumped soon after and had to chase for a lap, his jump was hot. Once I caught I looked back and saw that we had what looked like a 10 second gap. The three of us started trading pulls. We went past the start finish and saw 7 to go. I knew that this was going to be tough. All the pulls were strong and we had chemistry, we all wanted to stay off.
At this point I knew if we were caught I would finish in back, my legs were toast. After about 2 laps I look back and I see Get a Grip dangling. This was disappointing because now we had 5 or so laps to go and only 2 riders. Richard had his sprinter back in the field so he was more then happy to roll back to the field…I was not so content. After I took a hard pull his pull would be hard but not hard enough. I knew that if we were not steady and fast we were going to get caught. With two laps to go, I got to the front and put my head down. It was a decision between getting caught and finishing in the back with hopefully Ed or Chris to clean up the field sprint against Serafin or kill myself and get second…or first if Richard did not take pulls and was tired enough to give the win to me.
As I picked my head up I saw nick on my right yelling “GO GO GO!!!” and as I took the turns the sides were lined with supporters it was great! As I took the third turn Luke yelled out “keep it up, you have a good gap” I yelled back “how good, time please!!” next time around Kirby yelled that we had about 15 seconds. This was good but not good enough to play cat and mouse with Richard. I buried myself one more time to try and fight the course and stay away. On the 4th corner of the final lap I come around first. I hit it as hard as I can in the saddle and I see Richard dart across the road. “Figures…” I thought to myself, not happy but satisfied with 2nd. The cheers from teammates, and fans were amazing, and the announcer yelling out my name was a big help. After rolling through the line I saw Chris go by, but no Ed. I was confused but figured I had missed him. Turned out he had crashed on the last lap trying to take the second turn outside at a hot pace, was unable to contest the sprint…and broke his handlebars. In the end Chris and Ed did a fabulous job of sitting at the front with GAG to block and let us get away. It was a tough race but the trophy was great…so were the congratulations I got.
The best thing was to see Luke (in his sling) and Kirby come up and tell me how good I did. I knew it was good, but I was disappointed in the finish and how it ended up playing out with me doing all the work on the last two laps. Fun race and the organizers were great. Big thanks to those who stuck around to watch the 3’s and take pictures. Good day and great teammates!