It was hot and humid, with feeding allowed every lap! Luckily there were a lot of people on cry baby hill with hoses and such to help keep us cool. Our Team Exergy support crew also worked tirelessly to handout bottles amid that crazy crowd of cycling enthusiasts (aka: wicked hammered people in lycra).
I attacked right from the gun and spent some serious time off the front and in small moves for the first 20 minutes of the 80 minute event. The final downhill off camber corner lent well to my corner abilities making it an advantageous place to attack. However I started to pay for it after a while and despite ice socks and hydration, I started to hurt.
Jamis controlled the race, as they had the largest team. They got the guy they wanted to get away, away. He took with him a second rider from Aerocat. Therefore in the finale, we were sprinting for 3rd on the day plus places in the weekend's overall omnium. Since I didn't finish in the points either day prior, I was simply going for glory on the final day.
The leadout on Sunday was exceptional. With 6 to go we were all in a line of 4, riding out of the wind near 15th wheel. We lost one of the Mullervy twins (brand new editions to the team - tireless workers, I can't wait to race again with these guys!) during a feed near the end of the race (he handed me his bottle over the crest and lost contact with our train) but that is okay. With 2 laps remaining Quinn, Conner and I took over the front of the peloton, away from the Jelly Belly team = super stoked. Quinn blew halfway up the climb that lap so I told Conner that needed him to get me to the bottom of the hill again, so 1 full lap! I was coaching him through the lap...the commentary went pretty much like this:
On cry baby hill with 1.5 laps remaining: "Okay Conner, now it's your time"
Over the top of the hill: "Drive it drive it drive it"
Through corner 3 passing Amaran who attacked solo with 5 remaining: "nice and smooth"
Getting up to speed into corner 4: "BIG POWER"
Approaching final corner with 1 lap to go: "Breathe Conner, Breathe. You need to get me to the end of the straight. Thirty seconds! Everything you got, just ramp it up"
With 200 metres to the first corner of the final lap two amateur riders from NOW came alongside "Maximum Conner, FULL GAS!"
He pulled off and I slotted into behind the two NOW riders. Halfway up the steep section of the climb but before the sharp right hander leading into the crowded section, Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) went down the inside. I followed around the outside of the NOW riders (didn't see them again). Up along the crowd I surfed back looking for a spot to get in. Jelly Belly was driving it very hard and left just enough space between their line and the crowd. Over the crest it ran Lawson Craddock (Trek-Livestrong), Brad Huff & Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly), Jonny Cantwell (Australia National Criterium Champion of FlyV Australia), Rashaan Bahati (Pista Palace) and I with a gap behind.
Through corner three Craddow faded and slowed the pace. On the outside I passed Bahati. Jelly Belly continued to turn right to steal the inside line: Huff, Hanson, some other dude, Cantwell, and I. I saw the hole for the last corner and should have gone for it as I was cornering very well in the final corner and may have been able to get a gab. But I stayed on Cantwell. Once through I geared up only once before I had to jump out of the saddle. In the 200 meter drag to the line the four of us gapped those behind, topping out at over 40mph. So I managed 4th in the bunch and 6th on the day!
So in other words the leadout was as perfect as it could have been. Next time I'll know to not even hesitate for an instant and instead of focusing on a 80% effort before the last corner and a 100% effort to the line, I'll switch it for a better position leading into the sprint. I am super stoked with this result, being able to pay the team back for helping me through the race with a solid sprint. Although I have historically been bad in the heat, Team Exergy helped me get to warmer climates this year and the heat training seems to be paying off!