Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sunny King Criterium and McClellan Road Race

One week ago the Lupus Racing Team raced the Sunny King Criterium and the McClellan Road Race in Anniston, Alabama. This was the first event of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, formerly the National Race Calendar or NRC. I started training from an injury that took me off the bike for 8 days about 2.5 weeks before Sunny King and McClellan, so I was unsure of where my fitness would be for the race weekend. 

We didn't have the strongest crit squad, so our plan was to cover moves and put someone in a breakaway. The race started off fast from the gun, like any national level crit. I started near the front in order to save energy and followed a couple moves. I paid a higher price than I normally pay for covering any move and wasn't able to attack as hard as normal either. It was just difficult sitting in the field for me most of the race. Another thing that made the race difficult was that a sizable break never really got off the front. This meant there were constant attacks and surges throughout the race. We had Nolan Tankersley and Michael Olheiser cover a couple significant moves throughout the race. With about 15 laps to go United Healthcare upped the pace to reel in a lone Holowesko Citadel rider. This caused the group to snap and I was caught in no man's land between the locomotive that was the field and riders getting dropped. Eventually the elastic snapped and I was in a group off the back chasing the field. My group was pulled with 4 laps to go. Nolan had a strong race where he sprinted to 14th place. Holowesko Citadel ended up taking the win with Travis McCabe.

I was excited for the McClellan Road Race because I came in 5th place last year.  The race was on a 22 mile circuit that consisted of 4 laps with a 1km climb at over a 10% grade and a 2km climb at roughly a 5% grade. The first time over the top of the 5% climb, I made a split of 6 riders. We got a gap of about one minute and hammered up the 10% climb. On the flat road after the climb we stopped working well together and were caught by another group of 6. At this point it was a smart decision for me to not work at all since I was outnumbered by 2 Holowesko Citadel riders. On the 5% climb we were caught by another group of 12 riders that included my teammates Oliver Flautt and Michael Olheiser, and I cracked hard. This is the point where the winning break went with Oscar Clark and Andrei Krasilnikau. Since I cracked I went back to the main field. I started the 10% climb at the front of the field, but could no longer produce watts and was dropped. I finished out the third lap and that was it for me. Meanwhile the 20 rider group off the front was absorbed by the field. My teammates set pace at the front of the field to try to bring back the duo of Clark and Krasilnikau off the front, but the gap never came down. It was a tough weekend of racing!

This weekend I wasn't at my highest level, but I was happy I was able to race near the front and make one significant breakaway. It tells me I can put high power, but I just need a little more endurance there. I am confident I will have more fitness at the USPro Crit Championships next weekend.