Course is 3 laps of a out and back road for a total of 70 miles. Mostly flat with the last 3k being stair step uphill. Had teammates Jonatan and Sean with me in a field of around 25. With it being the first race of the season for me, always hard to figure out where I am exactly fitness wise, but training had been going well so had some confidence. The course finish also suited me with a short uphill finish. So the plan was for Jonatan to cover early moves and then have both of them help lead me out for the finish if it was still together. Hoever looking at previous race reports, breakaways were very common for this course and typically formed on the uphill section to finish each lap so had to be on the lookout for that.
Race started and within the first mile, attacks started. Jonatan did an amazing job the entire first lap covering attacks from the heavy hitters. Sean helped with the pace too and I tried to sit in as much as possible. We soon realized that any attack on the flat section could be easily caught so was useless. At the end of the first lap on the uphill, a guy goes off the front solo. He gets a decent gap of almost 30 seconds by the time we get to the turn around. On the next lap we keep him in check do some rotating pacelining. His teammate tried to disrupt the paceline and worked once but we picked up on his tactic. We slowly reeled back in the solo rider about ¾ of the way through the second lap. Some other small groups go off the front but get reeled back up. With a couple miles before the climb a few get away and get around a 20 second gap. As we hit the uphill to finish the second lap, all three of us know, this is a prime opportunity for the winning move to form. Some guys attack hard on the climb and Jonatan is there with them as they slowly bridge to the leading group to start the last lap.
With their gap growing, Sean and I do as much as we can to disrupt the main group from chasing them down. Surprisingly, it was pretty easy. Several times the people at the front of our group would try to form a rotating paceline. We would get in the paceline and then when we were about 3-4 from the front, let a gap form, causing the guy in front of us to be stuck in the wind. We were able to pull this off about 5 times pretty easily. By the time we reached the halfway point of the last lap, the group had given up on catching the lead group. Sean and I chatted about the lead out and discussed when he should go and where to drop me off for the sprint.
We hit the final climb and Sean and I are actually too close to the front than I would have preferred. The climb lasts longer than you think so wanted to let some other guys lead the first part of the climb.. A guy goes off solo from our group and gets about 10 seconds. No one wanted to be the one to chase him down. It was a smart move by him, luckily for us, he didn’t have the legs and would end up being caught with about 1k to go. But before we caught him, Sean and I were in the front 5 of the group. As it is a stair step climb, there are some small flat and slightly downhill parts, and I actually found myself on the front with about 1.5k to go which was not the plan and panicked a little. So I eased up and luckily some other people upped the pace, and Sean was on their wheel and then I grabbed Sean’s wheel and let him know I was there. Sean did a great job of pulling me up the climb. We got to a flatter section inside 1k to go and Sean gave the his last bit of energy and dropped me off. It was a little earlier than we had planned but there was only two other riders no more than 2 seconds ahead and we had almost a 10 second gap behind us so worked out anyways. I slowly crawl my way to these two guys and then sit on their wheel. I stay there and let them do the pulling. They are starting to fade so I keep looking back to make sure the pack isn’t closing in and luckily they are not closing fast. The first guy finally pops so its just me and one other guy for the final drag. The last part to the finish is steep like the bump finish. With about 175 meters to go I start my sprint. I am slowly gaining on him. I get even with his wheel and he matches my paces and gets a few inches on me, but then I empty the tank and pas him and get him by about a bike length. While it ended up being only for 10th place. (Didn’t realize how big the breakaway was). It felt good to win the bunch sprint and see that my legs are in good form so far.
Was really proud of our team! We executed on our tactics almost perfectly. The only thing I think we could have done better is maybe not have Jonatan cover so many moves at the beginning. Maybe he would then have more for the final sprint, but happy with the result.