Today we raced in Roswell, Ga, just outside of Atlanta. We all awoke very focused today and planned to completely smash the race. The short transfer to our new hotel was stress-free thanks to the help of our team's great staff: thanks Fojo, Josh and Remi. The course was simple and fast, with three major changes of direction and a long 400 meter drag to the line. A shallow hill along the back straightaway provided a great opportunity for attacks and tactics.
The plan of the day: Aggressive in the beginning with the intent to string out the field and set Carlos off in a small breakaway following the mid-race prime, then work for me in the finale which means that today marked my first opportunity to sprint for the team in 2012 and the first time ever in a race that both Carlos and I have started; no doubt a big opportunity to show my speed.
Quinn and Kevin guard the front
Similar to last night's race, the day featured a constant slew of attacks which more often that not involved large groups of 6-10 riders. Unfortunately these moves failed within short periods of time as riders looked to maximize their team's representation and their chances for victory. Too big to succeed. The big teams of today were again Kenda 5-Hour Energy, Mountain Khakis and a solid group from Competitive Cyclist.
With 10-12 laps remaining (approximately 20-24 minutes to go), Mountain Khaki's Ben Ziwacki, Team Exergy's Kevin Mullervy and Pure Energy's 2008 Olympian Bobby Lea finally went clear. This took the pressure off of Team Exergy. Various teams tried to bridge the 20 second gap to the trio but nothing stuck.
Nankervis w/ 3 laps
With 4 laps to go Kenda's John Murphy attempted a hard bridge effort on the back straightaway and Tino followed. The duo jumped clear and established a gap. This placed a great deal of pressure on Competitive Cyclist who responded with 3 laps remaining by moving to the front with Tommy Nankervis, Nate King and Cole House. Bumping for position behind their train, Conor, Carlos and I waited and watched for swarms.
With 2 laps to go Tino and Murphy returned to the peloton but Kevin's trio remained 18 seconds up the road, Competitive still driving. With 1 lap to go the gap was only reduced a further 3 seconds (now to a 15 seconds advantage) after Bobby Lea attacked his breakaway companions to win the penultimate lap prime. To cover his move, Ziwacki had to react and pull back Lea, whom they caught with 1/2 lap remaining at the base of the shallow back straightaway climb. At this point Kevin launched a full gas attack, 1 km from the line.
The peloton now only 8 seconds behind and charging hard, a swing in momentum occurred at the base of the climb and Conor took the front, followed by Ivan Domingeuz, Carlos and I over the crest.
Kevin drives the break
In the breakaway, Kevin rounded the final corner with a 10 foot gap over a hard-chasing Ziwacki. Remi, standing at the pit near the exit of corner 4 was going totally bonkers. In the long 400 meter run to the line, Kevin finished off his 1 kilometer dash to hold off Bobby Lea for 2nd place after Ziwacki surged past out of the draft for the win.
Eight seconds later, Conor lead out of the final corner and hit the gas. Carlos immediately guided Ben through the narrow 2 foot gap in the right gutter of the road between Ivan's shoulder and the steel fencing. A perfect 10 second jump from Carlos dramatically increased our speed and he dropped me perfectly off at 200 meters to go. In the drive to the line I had great sensations and good distance to finished just 50 feet behind Bobby.
Today's success was almost as good as a win. For Kevin, for a guy who is so damn good and works so damn hard for his teammates, it was awesome to see him up on the podium. And I was very happy to gain confidence with a strong sprint out of the field, thanking the team for the opportunity to lead today in the finale.
Tomorrow is a long day of travel to the seaside town of Beaufort, SC. It's always a well attended event. Also, Ken Mills will arrive to serve as D.S. for the remainder of the week as Remi returns to Boise to prepare for the Tour of California. It was really special for me to have Remi here this weekend as it was one year ago here at Speedweek were I started to find my form thanks to his guidance.
Thanks for reading!
Jon Safka: Historic Roswell: USA Speedweek St.2: Kevin 2nd, Ziwacki 1st, Bobby Lea 3rd
Jon Safka: Historic Roswell: USA Speedweek St.2: Field Sprint