This is only the third year for this race. It is not a super tough course. There are a couple of short power climbs and a crazy little downhill section with a hairpin turn about 2K from the finish. Other than that is is mainly flat. Erik throws in some mileage to incorporate more of a suffer factor. I had planned on racing in the 1/2 field since it was the senior road race state championship but due to time constraints I opted to race in Masters 1/2/3 field.
I won this race last year when I was a 3 and with the strong team we had lined up I had high hopes of getting one of us across the line first this year. The weather forcast leading up to Saturday was for a warm, sunny, dry day. Well, at least it was pretty warm. It wasn't raining yet but it looked like it could at any minute. The last 3K of this course could be nasty if wet.
Audi had eight guys, we had seven and KR had six. When the attacks started it was evident that all three teams knew what the perfect situation would be. After a good handfull unsuccessfull attacks Ryan(KR) rolled solo and after a developint a small gap Matt(Audi) bridged up. I not sure why no one else responded. (espedially from our team) After they got a small gap Mark and Greg(Farestart) jumped hard to try and bridge. It took them a while but the did eventually make contact and we had what we wanted. After they got a good sized lead we started to see if we could get a 2nd man free to try to join them. If the right people hopped on we kept going, if not, we sat up. Apex had missed out and they finally started taking turns attacking. Their effort finally brought the break back.
Did I mention that it started raining. It was sporadic but the road was getting really wet in places. As soon as we were together I launched and got in a short live break. We kept attacking until we thought we had a another good situation. Both Nikos and Matt made into a six man break that included Greg and Roger from Apex, Erik(KR) and Martin(Farestart). Surprisingly, Audi missed out and soon Alfredo was off the front trying to bridge. I was surprised no one from the smaller teams tried to go with him. Unfortunately he wasn't able to make it across was soon back with the rest of the field. Slowly the break disappeared up the road and I had a good feeling about their chances. We stopped attacking and started working on keeping the rest of field in check.
Just as I was wondering why Audi wasn't doing anything to try to bring the break back they all shot to the front and started putting in a mammoth effort. At first I wasn't too worried because it seemed like they waited a little too long and would run out of time (and hopefully gas) but they kept at it with almost no help from any of the others teams that had been left out.
We were probably just under half way through the final lap when we realized Audi's efforts were starting to pay off. A short time later we were all together. While Audi was working their asses off we were getting nice and rested. As soon as we made contact we immediately started throwing two guys off the front again. I was amazed that Greg and Martin were still able to take turns going with the attacks. Nikos didn't take much of a rest and soon he was attacking as well. The Audi guys looked tired but they were still responding to the attacks. After a barrage of failed attempts Aaron launched and to my surprise only Greg(Apex) went with him. We sat up and I sat up and watched the two roll away. With how active the race had been I thought someone would jump to bring them back but no one did. Did Audi use everything in the tank to bring back the break? Did Greg and Martin finally burn all their matches? Right before we made it to the hill for last time I started to think that unless Aaron and Greg stopped working with each other they could actually survive. If that were the case I was pretty sure Aaron could win the sprint. We started up the last climb and it was time to get in position for the finish. I wanted to be at the front when we started down the hill. Robert(KR) hauled his teammates Jim to the front and I knew what their game plan was. I got right on Jim's wheel and followed him through the hairpin. We jumped onto the final straightaway to the finish. Robert was leading and we were strung out in a single file line which was great. All of a sudden the pace slowed for no real reason and I got a little boxed in as we bunched together. I think it was Kevin who soared to the front to get things moving again. I'm not sure when it was but way before the 200m marker Mark jumped and came flying by at mach I? I think it caught Jim by surprise but he jumped hard to respond. It was game on and I jumped as well. I was by myself in the wind and it was a little longer than I can usually hold a full on effort but I had no choice. I put my head down and reached deep to where I hadn't been in a while and just kept driving.
Aaron was able to get a gap on Greg and took the win!!! Mark, with no help at all held the sprint and took third. Ryan(KR) and I were now in a drag racefor 5th. I took a quick look back and realized no one was going to catch us. I had nothing left but kept digging. We went wheel to wheel for the last 20 meters. Ryan outlasted me for 5th.
We accomplished our mission by taking 1st and 3rd. We really worked as a team and it paid off. Big props to Audi for doing something I thought was next to impossible. I wasn't happy about it but you have to admire what they did. Also for Greg and Martin for never giving up. I've been in tough races when you don't have numbers. It's not easy for two teammates to go with every attack(except for the deciding one). Congrats to my teammate John for taking 3rd in the crazy Pro/1/2 race. It was a great day for the Garage crew.