Monday, February 13, 2017

Greenville Spring Series Weekend 1

Finally the offseason is over and the first races of the season have come at the Hincapie Greenville Spring Series. I have been eagerly anticipating this moment all winter. Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team fielded a 5 man team of Chris Uberti, Parker Kyzer, Ben Renkema, Justin Meade, and myself. We were anxious to start the racing off well and kick the year off on the right foot.

The first race of the weekend was a one hour criterium at Conestee Park. There is nothing more fun than a bunch of sprints out of turns for the first race of the year. Over the past couple years the winning break has gone during the first few laps of the race, so we were attentive early and covered all the dangerous moves. Around 10 minutes into the race I jumped off the front by myself and was killing myself but could never eek out an advantage of more than 15 seconds. In the group behind Ben Wolf of Jelly Belly and Brandan Rhim of Holowesko were chasing hard. With about 20 minutes left to race they finally reeled me in, but my solo move shattered the peloton to about 12 riders that included all of my teammates. After a few small attacks Wolf jumped off the front, and Justin was able to follow. With Justin representing us up the road we only had to cover moves. However the field was still antsy and attacking each other, and Rhim went up the road with Chris and an unattached rider. I kept trying to jump off the front whenever the pace would slow, and with about 5 laps to go I was able to finally break free. Up front Ben was riding like a machine, and Justin was unable to come around him to take the win. However, Justin sat on Ben the whole time like a good teammate, so we couldn't have asked for more from him. Uberti was able to win the sprint from his group to take third place. In the closing laps I was coming close to Uberti's group but just could not make contact, so I rolled home in 6th place. Ben and Parker beat everyone left in the shrapnel called the peloton for 7th and 8th. Tactically we played a very smart race and came home with 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th. Congratulations to Ben Wolf on taking the win. Not a bad start to the season for Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team...

On Sunday we raced 8 laps around the infamous 7 mile Donaldson Center circuit. Donaldson is always tricky because there is a ton of wind, and by the end of the race it is blown to smithereens. We did a great job staying together and protecting one another through the crosswinds and making splits throughout the race. There were attacks over the first few laps but nothing significant ever came to fruition. With about 4 laps to go we were all able to make a selection of about 15 riders, but the whole field came together yet again. With a little more than 3 laps to go Mac Brennan of Holowesko, Andrew Dahlheim of Arapahoe Resources, and I punched it in the crosswind section. We built a significant advantage quickly and worked smoothly together building up about a one minute lead on the chase. With a little less than 2 laps to go we got word that two of Mac's teammates were chasing. That meant just Dahlheim and I were working while Mac got a free ride. With about a half lap left to go Dahlheim jumped me hard. As soon as I made contact again I jumped but didn't get far. However, I tried a couple more times and the elastic snapped. From then on I rode as hard as I could to the line to net my first win of the year. It felt really good to get a win at the Spring Series because I have not gotten one here for a few years now. It is also nice to win at Donaldson because it is a hard man's race. Dahlheim was able to shake Mac to take second place. The field was able to reel in the two chasers and Ben took the field sprint for 4th place.

I had a great time racing with my teammates this weekend, and I could not have taken the win on Sunday without them. It is really nice to start things out winning, and I hope we can keep the momentum rolling. Next weekend the Greenville Spring Series continues with the Fork Shoals Road Race and another Donaldson Circuit Race. I will keep my blog updated regularly, so stay tuned.