Anger Management Crit
by Ryan Schneider
My second race of the year was at the familiar, wide-open, well-paved, flat, four-corner industrial park course in Carson. The only twist was that it would be 90 minutes long as opposed to our normal 75. After last week’s win, I had woken up Monday morning and emailed the team. I told them that I thought it would be a good idea for us to win CBR. They concurred and we planned accordingly for another field sprint.
Much to my consternation, breakaways were the theme for the day. Normally, I wouldn’t make an effort for a breakaway, but about 12 minutes into the race there were two strong riders off the front and I saw Paul Vaccari bridge up. I’ve seen Paul win races off the front solo, so I made the split-second, race-winning decision to put everything into getting up to the break. I got out of the saddle and up there in a little less than a half lap with my heart rate just 6 beats below maximum.
A few seconds after I caught on, two more guys joined. Whenever a group bridges up to a break, there is a few seconds where everyone looks around and decides if the break is going to work or not. Each time a group merged, I tried to get to the front and take a good pull to get things going and to show the other riders that I was willing to work. Assessing the situation, I could see that we had one guy from each of the major teams in this break, plus two guys with smaller teams who were very strong breakaway riders. It looked like a great situation, so I fully committed even though, as someone who is normally a sprinter, it’s always risky to commit to a break. If it didn’t work out I would have weakened my sprint for later.
Before long the seven of us had gained a 40 second advantage on the field, which soon settled in at 35 seconds. We were working really well together; everyone was pulling through and taking his turn at the front. We stayed 35 seconds up for a few laps and then we got word that a group of four was bridging. We just kept riding until they made contact. At that point there were eleven of us and when the chase group first made contact things got a little negative, sparking an attack from two riders. I closed that gap, rolled through, and we all starting working well again. Soon, we got word that Stefano was bridging up and the group picked up the tempo to keep him from catching us. It didn’t make much difference because he caught us anyway.
Everything changed when he got there. Everyone was watching him and nobody really wanted to work anymore. However, it was right around that time that the field came into sight. I was pleased to see the pack ahead because I knew I was feeling good and that I could close the final gap to the field any time I wanted. I sat back for a few second to see what happened and, sure enough, a few guys attacked to get across first. I went with them.
At that point half of our break had lapped the field and the other half was nearby but had not closed the gap. I organized my seven teammates and told them to get to the front to keep the rest of the group from making contact. When I was sitting behind my teammates, all lined up in Bike Religion kits, I got goosebumps on my legs. It was an awesome sight to see them take control of the race like that! With 5 laps to go the rest of the break made contact with the field.
That where things got chaotic. Eleven riders had lapped the field, so nobody wanted to allow any of the original breakaway to get off the front again. All I had to do to win was outsprint the ten other guys who were a lap up. When Rudy Napolitano, attacked my team took control and chased him down. Unfortunately, bringing him back burned through almost all of my teammates. I wasn’t worried. I’m more than comfortable with freelance sprinting.
On the last lap, Justin Savord did a great job of bumping anyone off my wheel. Going into the final turn I was about seventh wheel, following Rudy from the break. Brian Zink, also from the break, was a few wheels in front of him. The rest of the riders in front of me were down a lap so I didn’t have to finish in front of them to win the race. Midway through turn four I saw a hole and sprinted out of the turn into Brian’s wheel and past him. I kept going, passed the rest of the riders in front of me, winning the field sprint and the race.
It was another great day for the team that will give us even more confidence in the coming weeks. Next week is our training camp, followed by our first road race. We will find out next Saturday if we can win road races as well.