I took stock of the big teams at the start line. It was us, xXx, Mesa Cycles, Burnham, and some other big teams that I didn’t know. I tried to remember some of them to make sure that they were in the move should a breakaway go with me in it. We rolled out pretty slow, and I don’t remember there being a lot of attacks. Coming into town at the end of the first lap, we went pretty hard up the hill. A group of 5 or 6 went away, and I decided that it could be the move. Evan and I were patrolling the front, so off we went. I saw Matt holding a bottle in the feedzone and shook my head. I had to pee already. Evan and I worked together to bridge up to the break.
In the break we found an xXx rider, Mesa Cycles, and some other random dudes. I thought we had good enough team representation, and I only remember that Burnham was not there. We were working well together, and I was giving it everything. Apparently this wasn’t good enough, and the field brought us back. One strategy note here, maybe I should’ve sat on while Evan rotated through. Then I could’ve attacked the break when it was clear we weren’t going to make it, and maybe they would’ve given me a bit of leash as a solo rider.
So not much happens and a couple guys get 5-10 seconds off the front of the field. Blankinship chases them down. We’re hanging out and I turn a corner only to feel my rear wheel sliding around. Hand goes up, shoot straight to the back. Hit the brakes hard, stop, change my own wheel and start chasing back on. I chased for around 10 min, and eventually caught the field (which wasn’t pedaling very hard). At this point I gave up on a breakaway attempt, and started sitting near the front waiting for the hills. It started on the first hill, and I moved up right to the front. On the final climb, a rider stuck his front wheel into my right foot and went down behind me, while also messing up my rear derailleur alignment. Thanks, I didn’t need that to shift anyway.
JV gets on the front going downhill and goes as hard as possible. We actually had a small gap going onto the cobbled sections. But eventually we’re joined by 10-15 other riders, JV’s got a flat so has to sit up, and then it starts to get crazy. My bike doesn’t shift well, my rear tire is sliding because it’s the one I train on, my bike is making all kinds of crazy noises because my seatpost faring isn’t on correctly and I’m going 30 mph on cobbles. It was madness. Then add in some turns on wet cobbles and you have to be really nuts to mix it up at the front. So I lost my good position and started the sprint from about 10 back. Picked off a couple guys and ended up in 8th. Disappointing, but all things considered, I think it was OK – I guess. As a team we did well, but didn’t execute our echelon plan. I don’t think it was windy enough anyway. I wish the race had been harder, but that requires people to make it hard and I definitely did not want to expend extra energy. It is what it is and on to fight at Leland!
Photos by: Elizabeth Rangel