Alright, day three of USA CRITS Speedweek and we are gaining momentum. Seaside in the small town of Beaufort, South Carolina, our morning included short pre-race massages, a spin out to the ocean and of course a pre-race nap! Carlos is closing in on the overall jersey, Kevin is stress free and happy after an awesome performance in the closing stages to claim 2nd in Roswell and I am feeling strong again after winning the field sprint for 4th.
Beaufort’s one kilometre, four corner, counter clockwise course is narrow, turns often and perfect for a small breakaway. The crunch down into corner 1, collapsing from 3 lanes to 1 and lined with hay bales and sometimes overly-friendly-fans, is often the most chaotic part of the lap. However, once the sun goes down, the fast and poorly lit run down the back straightaway into the double apex sweep of corners 3 and 4, with a large water drain at the apex of 3 thrown in for good measure, takes over as the tactical concern of the lap.
The trick of this course is to snap the field’s elastic (riding outside the top ten is very difficult as the quick succession of corners essentially turns your day into a sprint workout) and send the perfect combination of riders up the road. All of the big teams need to be represented in such a move in order to gain distance on the field, especially when the announcer offers cash prime sprints throughout the race to maintain a lively race. The full pro teams here tonight are Mountain Khakis, Team Exergy and Kenda 5 Hour Energy; strong amateur teams include Rosetti and Cocos. Smaller professional squads from Competitive Cyclist, Garmin Chipotle Development, Team Type 1 Development round out the majority of the peloton’s strength.
The plan tonight, Carlos goes in a small break and wins, maybe laps the field. In the finale, if Carlos doesn’t break, we work for me. But in order to get Carlos away it will take a full six man effort to control the race, create the perfect breakaway and control any moves to bridge. From the gun, it is clear that we all took advantage of yesterday’s rest day and are riding well. If stuck outside of the top twenty, the nature of the course makes your race much more difficult...so we stay at the front!
|As planned, Carlos rides|
Similar to the earlier races of the week, various moves go up the road. Most notably, Carlos smashes the start of the race and goes solo within ten minutes of the start, gaining a maximum advantage of twenty seconds. We rest and watch from the top ten, forcing other teams to work hard to reel Carlos back. After caught, small breaks of 2-6 riders continue to launch off the front for the next 20 minutes with Quinn, Tino, Conor and Kevin marking or gaining representation in each move. Near the mid-race prime, I moved to the front to let the guys rest and took the points available at the half way sprint. Shortly thereafter, it got hairy.
A very dangerous move of ten riders with both Conor and Kevin Mullervy (Team Exergy’s ginger twins) went clear. As Conor is the stronger sprinter of the two, he sat in and let Kevin (who is on great form after his late race 20 minute breakaway performance the day before) take his majority of the work at the front. This prompted Kenda 5hr Energy’s John Murphy to go all in for 3 laps and bring back the break. His pace was very good and as a result strung the field out in a long line; I feel that anyone stuck at the back would not have been having much fun at that point. When we caught the break, the field was shot so Carlos countered attacked with Frank Travieso (Cocos) and Thomas Brown (Mountain Khaki’s) in tow. Within 3 laps they already had 30 seconds...it was only a sixty second lap!
Tino and I covered the front at this point as the Mullervy’s rested from their efforts. The gap just kept building. The plan was working. This should put Carlos in the lap leader’s jersey if not the overall leader’s jersey. With 12 laps to go, Bobby Lea (Pure Energy and US Olympic Track team member) attempted to bridge. Kevin followed and the two zoomed off in hot pursuit of the leading trio.
It was chaotic in the final laps. Carlos’ group decided against lapping the field, deciding to stay safe and finish their race with a healthy lead. Kevin and Bobby dangled only 20 seconds clear with 1 lap to go and the field was not organized.
In the final drive, Carlos was narrowly beaten at the line after launching his sprint a little too early. Frank Travieso won with Thomas Brown placing third. Kevin was almost pushed into the barriers by Bobby in the final 100 meters but after some choice words, Bobby didn’t send him to the hospital and opened the gap along the barriers, losing out in the sprint as a result. In the field sprint, I positioned myself poorly with 1 lap to go but Conor and Tino helped me move up to 5th wheel for the sprint. Luke Keough (Mountain Khakis) and I were neck and neck with 20 metres to go after the long 300 metre drag from corner 3 but I faded and a strong sprinter from Cocos also slipped by.
So 2nd, 4th, and 8th. We controlled the race, rode better than Roswell and again did pretty much everything except win. Carlos claimed the overall jersey and the leader’s jersey with his work tonight. Kevin and I also moved up into the top ten overall, earning call ups for tomorrow’s race in Walterboro (only a short 40 mile drive down the road). We have to take solace in the fact that we are getting smarter and learning more about one another’s riding style every day, but for crying outloud, WE HAVE TO WIN TOMORROW!
|Beaufort Memorial: Alzate 2nd, Travieso 1st, Brown 3rd|
Labels: Road Report