That’s Meridian, Mississippi and Cuba, Alabama just to clarify. We had a great team race and ended up winning just about all the Cat 3 Bonuses thanks to a strong performance by Mike Lackey, who even managed a strong 6th place finish in the road race in the combined 1/2/3 field. My team worked hard to help me secure 3rd place in the criterium Saturday evening, 3rd place in the road race Sunday morning, and 3rd place in the omnium.
Here is how the races played out:
Saturday Criterium, 65 minutes scheduled (62 minutes actual)
This race got off to a fast start with Stuart hitting out on an early break on the first lap that lasted for a couple laps. Darryl, Wes, Mike, and Sammy were all active covering moves and getting into a few breakaways each time something was reeled in. My opportunity to try a move came 15 minutes into the race, when I attacked going into the quick right-left-right series of turns. Three riders responded immediately and we had a small group of four rolling. Soon more riders bridged up including a couple more Herring Gas riders (bringing their total to 4 riders in the break), Eric Murphy (Myogenesis), Paul Tower (warp9bikes.com), and Ben Gabardi (Hot Tubes). As soon as I realized my situation, I did not want to work with the break. Unfortunately, Herring Gas had enough riders in the break to not only help it stay away but also launch riders off the front of the break. To avoid having to cover or bridge to the small mini-moves that kept on forming, I decided it was best just to roll through at a slower speed whenever I made it to the front in the rotation. So that was the status quo for the next 40 minutes.
I felt great when they flashed “3 laps to go”. Eric was pretty aggressive and tried to get away a couple times. His attacks whittled our break down to just four riders going into the last lap. Brian Rizk (Precision Racing) attacked first going up the hill in the middle of the quick right-left-right. I covered and found myself in second position going into the last corner. I decided to hit out before the corner. I had a bit of a gap coming out of the corner and with a tailwind sprint, I thought I could hold it – but Eric and Bain Foote (Herring) were both able to come around me so I ended up third.
Sunday Road Race, 65 miles
Today’s road race went off really well for us with Mike getting the Cat 3 win. Nickole and Cindy were there to help us in the feedzone. We all communicated well. We put the right man in the break. We sprinted decently — but for all of that we ended up losing the 1/2 race in the last mile. About 250 meters into the race, Wes said that he wanted to attack. I said go for it, and away he went. This attack was covered, but then Darryl counter attacked immediately and was away for a while. When Darryl got brought back, Wes must have been feeling very spritely because he attacked a second time, and we didn’t see him again until 64 miles later.
Clark Butcher (Herring Gas) covered the move from Wes, and the two of them had a steady gap of 2.5 minutes for most of the race including all the way to halfway through the last lap when they still had a 2.5 minute lead. Myogenesis was content to defend Eric’s GC placing, and Eric was happy he didn’t have to cover a bunch of attacks. Warp9 was content to ride a steady tempo keeping the break within remote striking distance, but ultimately it was the late race attacks by Herring that ramped up the pace enough to bring back Wes and Clark with less than 1 mile to go. Paul Tower (warp9bikes.com) launched a strong counterattack covered by Pat Allison and Bain. This got brought back quickly because there wasn’t enough cohesion amongst the three of them. Once they were caught, Paul launched another attack that nobody covered this time. Bain attacked from just over 500 meters and again nobody was covering so I did a short bridge to him, started my sprint at 300 meters and ended up getting passed by Eric Murphy on the line. Paul held on for the win by just a few meters which also meant he overtook me in the GC so I had to settle for 3rd in the race and 3rd overall for the weekend. Still – kudos to Paul for such a strong late race attack. Also, Wes proved that he is a beast of a bike rider driving a break for 64 miles – I believe this is his third race-long break of the year, and all of them have helped lead to wins or high finishes for somebody else on the team … it’s definitely going to be his time to win soon!!!
- My attack to start the break
- Pace quite a bit easier here
- Eric’s aggressive attacks with a few laps to go
- Leading out the sprint