What a great course and weather to match for the kick-off road race of the year. The first road race of the year has everyone showing up in the new kits ready with something to prove or hoping their winter training was enough to get them through the day. Looking at the start list was a bit intimidating when you start counting current National Championship jersey’s represented as well as the amount of talent represented in the 35+ field.
Going into the race I knew we had our hands full. With a much smaller than usual team (many becoming ill the week of) we had a small but effective team with myself, Gary Douville, Tomo Hamasaki, Brian Cook and newcomer on the squad Tony Restuccia making for a very level playing field looking at the other teams. Coming off of our team camp the week before I knew the team we had was in good form for January so I felt confident going into the race.
The race starts fast and barely 6k in attacks start going and with the wind and pace, they aren’t coming back so I knew I needed to go and bridged to the front dragging a tagalong in the process but we do what we need to do. Eventually the break becomes bigger and bigger and at the end of the lap it is in the high teens. Having 3 of my teammates with me was reassuring especially since Gary and Tomo were hard at work on the front and we knew Brian was holding the field at bay. Our gap became bigger each lap and the pace stayed high then Tomo flatted putting him out which was a big blow to the team but we still had 3… Then the attacks began with Rudy Napolitano launching and I have to give credit to Matthew Carinio and his Art’s Cyclery Team for going to the front and jointly we worked together to bring him back and then Marco Arocha went. Tony had a slow leak taking him off of the lead group narrowing our team down to 2. Gary Douville is looking like his old self and if it wasn’t for his hard work drilling the last lap we may not have brought Marco back.
Then I found myself along with Mike Easter going into the final climb 4 or 5 seconds ahead of the field at the bottom of the climb and at the top I was riding solo with a little over 10 seconds on Rudy and 15 seconds on the chasing group of 5. I realized quickly in the wind I wasn’t going to hold those strong men off in the 4K to the finish so eventually it all came back together and it became a cat and mouse game of attacks launching and it was non-stop. Coming into the finish wind was a big factor and I knew Easter would be a huge threat as well as Brauch from Helen’s as he never really hit the wind all day and has a bit of pop. Craig Nunes kept the pace high and we started the sprint with Rudy taking Mike Easter to the front and where I was positioned I had to squeeze between the guardrail and Rudy then cross over to the middle to come around Easter and Brauch in the middle. This made for a very sketchy sprint that happen to work out for us taking the first win of the season for the MRI Endurance PB Monster Media Team! I felt like I needed to close the deal after all the team did to put me in a position to win making for an awesome TEAM effort with a great result!