By Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)
The Winters Road Race has always been sort of a homecoming for me. Living just down the road in Davis for 6 years while attending college, I have ridden the road race course well north of 100 times. The course brings out every type of rider, from sprinters to climbers. The final climb is just far enough that the climbers can hope to hit it hard and bring a small group to the line, but also just easy enough that sprinters are often able to make it over the top for a chance at a sprint finish. This year’s race was the 6th race of the Cal Cup series and one of the last races of Northern California’s Prestige Series.
Team Mike’s Bikes came into the race with a strong squad that included the defending champion Dana Williams. Add in Roman Kilun (second in the Prestige Series), myself (current Cal Cup points leader), on-form riders Brandon Trafton, Nick Newcomb, Shawn Rosenthal and James Laberge; the team was coming to the race with some serious horsepower.
Our goals for the race were three-fold:
- Win the race
- Defend Cal Cup lead
- Premier Series Points
What we didn’t want to do however: Forsake goal #1 for goals #2 and #3. The main objective was to win the race, and if we happened to grab some points along the way, then that was an added bonus. Joining us in our 96-mile adventure would be a strong Marc-Pro Strava team and several strong individual riders.
From the gun, a seven-man break got up the road and quickly gained 2 minutes on the pack. With both Trafton and Newcomb up the road, my Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase teammates and I were able to sit pretty and relax. After 35 or so miles, Newcomb came back to the pack with 3 other riders, leaving 3 riders still up the road, including Trafton.
Now out of the break, Marc Pro put five riders on the front of the peloton to close the gap, and with 45miles to go, the race was gruppo compacto. Unlucky for us, we were now down to four riders as both Laberge and Kilun succumbed to flat tires.
The third time up the climb, I helped to push the pace off the descent and was able to small lead along with 5 other riders. We worked hard to push the gap out as much as we could, but the Marc-Pro led peloton pulled us back in a few miles later.
After a quick succession of attacks, Jonathan Teeter (2nd place Cascade TT in Pro 1) managed to get a 30 sec gap. Noting the TT prowess of Teeter, we put Trafton and Newcomb back on the front of the field to keep the gap in check. Despite both riders being in the early break, the rode out of their minds and were slowly brought back Teeter.
Marc-Pro Strava was having none of this however, and they started attacking once again to try and press their numerical advantage. Trafton managed to sneak off the front once again with perennial strong man, Chuck Hutcheson of Marc-Pro Strava. Hutcheson would ride a tiring Trafton off his wheel coming into the final climb netting him a 30 sec advantage over a dwindling peloton. I hit it up the final climb hard hoping to split up the group, but to my surprise, twenty or so riders were able to crest the climb in the lead group leading to the biggest pack finish that I remember in Winters road race history.
The race became very chaotic. With 2 kilometers to go, my remaining teammate, Dana, and I, were stuck in a back group of 10 dangling about 5-6sec off the lead group.
With 1k to go and Dana shot to the inside while I went around the outside hoping gaps would open. Luckily, with 250m to go, Craig Fellers (Red Peloton) jumped on the outside with Hutcheson and myself on his wheel. With 200m to go Hutcheson jumped. I came off his wheel with 125m to go and put my head down, taking a clear victory and managing to miss a crash that took down its fair share of riders right behind me.
Thanks to Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase for their great support and Velo Promo for putting on what I always think of as the best race of the year.
Winters Road Race Podium:
- Adam Switters (Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase)
- Chuck Hutcheson (Marc-Pro Strava)
- Thibault Jeannes (Hennebont Cyclisme)
Adam Switters is a former professional cyclist and currently races for Team Mike’s Bikes p/b Incase. He is a USA Cycling Certified Coach is the owner of Switters Coaching. You can check him out at his website http://www.SwittersCoaching.com/. Feel free to comment if you have any ideas for workout or questions.