Monday, June 6, 2011

Championship Weekend

This weekend was the Nebraska Championship double, road race on Saturday and criterium on Sunday. I was pretty excited to finally get to race up in Norfolk. I missed out last year as we were off in Panama.

The road race on Sunday was an interesting affair. With only 5 of us contesting the Cat 1/2 race and the results and prize list being scored differently for both the 1/2's and the 3's, the race dynamics were all messed up. We made some bad calls as a team and paid the price in the final losing both the Cat 1/2 and Cat 3 overall races with the only consolation being a state road title for myself. We'll have to chalk this one up as a learning experience.

My best impression of the Schleck Bros. skinny guy sprint
Photo: Lois Brunertt
Luckily, we got a chance to redeem ourselves during Sundays criterium championship. The tactics played out perfectly for us. With a decent headwind up the finishing straight we made the call to attack in pairs and see what came of it. As luck would have it, Paul and Lucas got away pretty early and the game was on.

The pair worked there gap up to 30 seconds or so and a bit before mid-race some activity in the bunch starting to bring them back. Shim and I each tested the waters with attempts to bridge across immediately following prime laps but it had no effect. It was obvious we needed to get Lucas and Paul to lap the field. Both Chad McGee and Lee Baumgarner (Flatwater/Bike Pedalers) were sprinting really well, and Joe McWilliams (Team Kaos/Alegent Health) had been sitting in all day waiting for the final. I went to the front and controlled the tempo as the lead pairs advantage grew.

Lucas and Paul drilling it off the front
Photo: Devin Bethune
We were running out of time and Lucas and Paul hadn't come around. The plan was for me to take a flier at the bell lap and for Shim to sit on the chasers. This way, we make the others chase and Shim gets a free tow to the line.

Expecting the unexpected

With three or four laps to go, I took a hard look back to see how close Paul and Lucas were to us. I thought they may catch us on their bell lap. So while everyone in our group thought we would have two laps to go, we really would only have one as rules dictate that we finish on the same lap as the leaders.

Sure enough, as we came through with what should have been two laps to go, the bell rang as Paul and Lucas had just made contact with the tailend of the field. I launched myself into turn one using every inch of the wide flat corners. I had a good gap and kept the pressure on. As I came out of the last corner the field was closing in and I had to sprint full gas to the line to stay ahead of a hard charging Joe McWilliams.

Giving full gas to the line
Photo: Lois Brunnert
...and the look back
Photo: Lois Brunnert
The tactics played out perfect, a 1-2-3 podium sweep and three state criterium championships (Cat 3, Cat 2/19-39, Cat 2/40-49). Plus, Leah won the women's and Mike won the Cat 4. Pretty decent weekend I must say.

Big thanks to Dan Spray and Jon Downey as well as the whole EVCC for a great race weekend, and John Lefler for the pro words on the mic.

Photo: Jeremy Cook

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