I won this race last year and along with the super nice weather I was pretty amped as I made the drive over. That feeling didn't last long.
During the 2nd lap I heard that nasty sound of carbon hitting the pavement behind me. As we came around corner 4 we saw Phil standing at the start/finish waving a red flag. I could see that there were two guys down but couldn't tell how they were bunch of people surrounding them. As we slowed down we knew this wasn't a crash people were going to walk away from. As we slowly rode by I could see that one of them was my teammate Mike. The other was Ingy from Bikesale. It didn't look good. I wanted to rush over but there were so many people helping and I didn't want to get in the way. My heart sank. Phil finally told us to go take a rest because they were calling in the paramedics and it would be a while. Pretty soon there were multiple emergency vehicles on the scene. There was a sense of urgency in the way the medics rushed over to them. I did finally go over and talk to Mike and he seemed to be in good spirits. It was a nasty crash and both were soon rushed to the hospital. All I knew was that Ingy was in pretty bad shape and Mike's helmet was literally busted in two.
I have absolutely no idea how long we were sitting there but Phil finally called us back to the line. A few guys were spooked and called it quits right there. I lined up even though I didn't feel much like continuing on. After a few laps my brain went back into race mode and all was good. Not everyone felt the same way an several more guys just slowly dropped off the back and pulled themselves from the race. After a while it was business as usual and we started attacking like we had in the prior crits. Matt and Tom took a few big digs and the pace got super fast.
Fast forward to about five laps to go and Matt got off the front with Steve W. No one went with them and I just moved to the front and set tempo. A few seconds later Kenny (Slalom Consulting) jumped to bridge. No one went with him either. I was fine with that. Pretty soon I saw Steve drop off and it was just Kenny and Matt. Finally Greg(Audi) and Mike(Bikesale) jumped hard to try to close the gap.....Game on!! I jumped on Mike's wheel and we let them pull us around for the next couple of laps. With two to go guys started popping hard and it got a little chaotic. As we made it through turn two for the last time I knew that no one was going to catch Kenny and Matt so I jumped hard. The only one that made it on my wheel was Andrew(Bikesale). I knew that if he was there at the end he would easily move around me but I couldn't let up and just had to go as hard as I could. I came out of turn four with open road and dug as hard as I could. Andrew did blow by me right before the finish. I looked back and no one was on our wheel so I just sat up and coasted across for 4th. Kenny won the race and we were happy to get two in the top five but it was definitely bitter sweet.