Okay, the TT was fine. My time was okay. I finished one step off the podium in 6th, but c’mon, podiums come in 3s as far as I’m concerned so I’m not that disappointed. I think if I rode the race differently I maybe could have taken 5th (the 5th place guy is probably saying the same thing about 4th place), but who cares? The funny/weird/interesting thing about TTing once you start getting into it is you can pretty much predict where you are going to end up. I thought I would be about 5th before coming into the race. I was sixth.
But on to the fun stuff – the CRIT. Line up 110 dudes, nobody with more than 2 teammates in the field and you got yourself a full on shoot out. I watched a couple of the other races before mine and breaks were going and sticking, which is different than we see at Cascade. But again, this crit was much longer (2x as long to be exact at 70 min) and w/o big team numbers, folks would have to suffer if they wanted stars and bars. I thought before coming to Bend I could win the crit, or the RR, but certain things had to happen. Well, for about 65 min of our 70 min race all those things were happening for me. I was sure I was going to win.
After attacking several times at the beginning of the race, mainly to stay near the front and be around if anything “dangerous” went up the road, something dangerous finally went up the road – Chris Dimarchi. Uh, big, tough guy who has won national titles. I figured it was a bit early but I needed to bridge up to him, so I did and we started working. That all came back eventually, and somebody else went up the road but that wasn’t going anywhere either.
Eventually I attacked hard again, had some guy with me, flicked him through and told him to drill it and then we were joined by Scott Fonseca and some other guy wearing a Kelly Benefits kit. I again thought this maybe not the right mix of guys but I’d sit it out for a bit to see what happened, or to see if other people would come up to us. Nobody did, and before we knew it our gap was at 15 seconds. Then 18. Then 20. Somebody told me it got up to 28. I don’t know. But when I was hearing over 20 seconds, even though I didn’t think we were going hard enough, I thought we might stay away. Well, we weren’t going hard enough.
We had 1 guy in our group not pulling hard enough – he didn’t have the gas and I knew we’d eventually have to dump him, I just wasn’t sure when to do it. That’s always the delicate balance when you are off the front. It’s probable that Scott, KB guy and I could have rolled faster w/o him. But if we are maintaining 20 seconds why take the risk and have to work hard. Why? Because all 110 guys want a jersey like Lunner now has that’s why. In about 1.5 laps our precious 20 seconds was 8 seconds and I was getting nervous.
So I attacked our group, mainly hoping to only dump the one guy and spark up the other 2. It didn’t work as I had planned and I thought just a little surge would get rid of him but it didn’t. Before you knew it there were four laps left, 3 other guys had joined us (I was still okay with that, for the record) but the field was very, very close.
I kept pressing very hard but the field finally swarmed us with about 3 to go. Game over, sort of. I stayed right at the front and even chased down Kevin Kline and some other guy who tried to slip away, but this was going to end in a field sprint.
I’ve been working on my sprint a lot this year but I wasn’t about to win this field sprint after pegging it for 65 min, or even if I hadn’t. Dimarchi, Tubbs and Laberge all have some serious watts and I was just hoping to roll through for a decent place. After Tubbs and Laberge passed me on their duel to the line I still didn’t have anyone around me and was laughing to myself because I had zero left in the tank and was wondering if I was just going to limp in for 3rd? Naw. In the next instant 13 guys went by me. I got 16th but it felt like a first place effort.