First weekend of racing for Herbalife p/b Marc Pro – Strava in the books, and I’d say things have started off much better in 2015 than they did last year. The team rode great and picked up the first win of the year when Matt Chatlaong sprinted to victory in Saturday’s Folsom Winter Crit.
On Sunday we had a little less firepower with just Chuck, Jared and I, but that doesn’t mean we rode conservative and hid in the pack. If you have never ridden this circuit, I highly recommend you check it out. It is a simple course on paper, but look deeper and you will see that it is a tactically difficult race to control. Several races in the past have been won in a myriad of ways, which always makes it exciting to watch and participate. The course is a roughly 6 mile circuit, and takes you on a small loop through town and an out and back on very smooth rolling pavement, with the finish line about 1k out of town on the way back.
Our race was 90 minutes long and we had about 40 guys line up at the start. There were a lot of attacks early on that didn’t go anywhere, and after the first 2 laps, Chuck told Jared and me to sit in and follow wheels for a while because everyone was too fresh and the moves weren’t getting away. I agreed, and with only three of us, I figured following moves was the best way to make sure we didn’t miss anything that had a chance of staying away. The next couple laps went basically the same with one of the three of us following any attack that went off the front. At some point, on maybe the fourth or fifth lap, Chuck attacked and got a good gap with a Coretechs rider in tow. Jared was able to jump across with a Squadra rider and they soon had at least a 10 second gap. From my position it looked like all four guys were working together, but I’m sure Chuck and Jared did the lion’s share of the work. At this point I was able to just sit in the pack and let the other teams figure out what they wanted to do. There was no real chase getting organized, even though no one besides us could have been happy with the move. They soon increased the gap to about 20 seconds and alarm bells were going off in the pack. Several guys were combing the group looking for help, some even asked me, to which I responded, “Sure, I’ll chase my own guys down….not.”
I thought the break had a real chance to stay away until with about 2 laps to go, I noticed the group up front was down to three. I could only see one of our guys (Jared), with the Coretechs and Squadra riders. That meant Chuck was in the lead, on his own. I don’t think the other two in the break liked their odds against Chuck and Jared and decided not work with them. Chuck had to make a decision and knowing that he wasn’t going to get much help going forward, he decided going at it alone was the team’s best option. Not only that, when you have the Giant Propel helping you slice through the wind, going solo doesn’t hurt quite as much it might on another bike. The pack saw blood in the water and several teams were now taking pulls on the front, especially Randy Bramblett’s full squad of Coretechs riders. With just under one lap to go, Jared and the other two in the first chase were brought back in the peloton and Chuck was less than 10 seconds ahead. Chuck saw that he was going to get caught and it looked like he started to conserve. We hit the 180 degree turn around for the last time, which is at about 3k to go, and I was in position on Bramblett’s wheel. Jared and Chuck somehow found the energy to stay right up front and neutralized any attacks that were being launched. At the 1k mark, I was where I needed to be right behind Coretechs, and Chuck was a few riders in front of me. At about 700m Chuck hit the gas and everyone had to jump. He took a massive pull for a few hundred meters and I was still in a good spot. I got kind of pinched at 250m and when Bramblett opened up his sprint at 200m I had to squeeze through a tight gap to stay on his wheel. I came up alongside Bramblett at 100m but was only able to make up half a bike length at the line. I didn’t quite have the power to get the win, but was still able to salvage second. Chuck and Jared rode aggressive, yet smart the whole race and still managed to have some energy to help keep me in good position to have a chance for the win. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to pull it off, but after such a rough off season with injury, and sickness all of January, I’m happy to be able to compete in February. Congratulations to Coretechs for getting their first win of the season. It looks like they are another squad that we will be competing with throughout the year. I’m happy the 2015 race season is under way, and Herbalife p/b Marc Pro – Strava is going to be ready for any challenges that come our way.