I signed up for this race on a whim, since one of my new teammates (Teammate L) decided to make her return to racing (after giving birth to her first son earlier this year). It's a flat, fast, four-corner (-ish--it's really three corners and a curve) crit, probably perfect to get me back into road racing after more-or-less 8 months away!
We had three racers in a field of probably 40 3/4/5s. Plan was to hang in, see what happened, and wait for it to come to a sprint, at which point I would lead out another teammate (Teammate D) for a glorious win. The finish line for the race was a short distance from the final corner, so positioning into the last corner was key.
Race went off as expected. In general, I've experienced safe, courteous racing out here on the West Coast, and this was no exception! Teammate L led me out for a prime mid-race. No one else really contested it, and I had about a 50 meter gap by the time I crossed the line. So I kept going! A rider from SJBC (San Jose Bicycle Club) bridged up to me, and we traded turns at eye-searing pace. I have never had such an encouraging breakaway companion! She cheered me on, and kept saying, "We just have to get out of sight! Come on! We can do it!" But big team Breakaway shut us down. Honestly, I was grateful when they caught us. My power profile is better for getting away than staying away, and I am certainly not in race shape currently (still training for Dirty Kanza distance).
|I think the blue arrow is my prime sprint, and the red arrow is where we got caught.|
Teammate D pulled the same trick, taking a prime and staying away for a few laps. But team Breakaway brought her back, too.
With about three laps to go, I maneuvered to the front. I didn't like the moderation of the pace--a slow lead-up to a sprint spells danger to me. So I started ramping up the pace. Teammate D was on my wheel, letting me know where she was and where to move to keep her in my draft. I went as hard as I could on the last lap, but team Breakaway's train was right beside us. I had the wide line going into the final corner, and two Breakaway riders overshot that turn, pulling directly into my line and cutting me off. Teammate D was still able to get around me and them to sprint for the win in the cat. 3. But I was freaked out, and had done my job, so I sat up and pedaled in for 7th place out of 8.
At first I was annoyed about having my wheel chopped coming out of the last corner. But that's racing. And they were 4/5s, still new to criteriums and learning how to corner. Next time I'll try to position on the inside corner. C'est la vie.
I'll have video from this race at some point, but my little action cam has been giving me fits. The video is on there; I'm just having trouble getting it off. Once I do, I'll throw a video together and post it.