The Chuck Pontius Criterium located in Santa Clarita was a hot one – both on the thermometer and when it came to the racing held on the 0.8-mile flat race course. This race was unique because many teams were not present, possibly preparing for the upcoming Dana Point GP, which is part of USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar. In my opinion, there is no better way to get ready for a race than to actually race.
The Monster Media/SC Velo guys must have the same opinion. As usual, they had the largest team in the Chuck Pontius 50 minute, 35+ race, including three of their stronger and more proven guys: Chris DeMarchi, Aaron Gadhia, and Jamie Paolinetti. And as usual, they also showed up with several worker bees. My plan going in to the race was to let them dictate and follow, then initiate my own smack down later when the time was right.
When things got rolling, DeMarchi and Paolinetti launched several attacks before the rubber band finally snapped. Jamie (Paolinetti) was able to roll off with our big block engine, Mike Faello (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW), bridging up to him. Mike took three other guys with him all the way up to Jamie. In very little time, the break had a pretty decent gap on the field. I was glad that Mike made the split and hoped he would not let Jamie, the crafty veteran, take advantage of him.
The laps kept counting down, and just as I had feared, I saw Mike and the other guys coming back to the field without Jamie. He was still off solo, using those guys to get what he needed before rolling away on his own. I’ve seen him do it many, many times.
Heading into the final laps, we were chasing hard and fast, but Jamie had built up enough of a lead that he was still hanging out there on his won, just barely. Coming out of the last turn, on the bell lap, I waited too long which was a big no-no, especially since my sprint has been so good. When I finally went, I was charging very fast on Jamie and almost nipped him at the line, but just missed it. Just missing out on the win stings and will teach me not to hesitate next time. Much respect to the crafty veteran for holding us off and closing the deal for his team. He gets the tough man award, at least until next weekend.