This past weekend I competed in the UCLA road race, which is one of my favorite races of the season because of its challenging course where climbers like me have an opportunity to get a good result. This year a lot of good riders and teams showed up to the race, such as California Giant, KHS/Maxxis and Bissell Development among others, so I knew it was going to be a hard one for me. I was going to be on my own because all of my teammates were in Puerto Rico for a training camp; I was ready to try my best.
The start of the race was really fast with Stefano Barberi pretty much attacking from the gun. This initiated the aggression in the race with several other riders trying to jump across forming the early break, which I happened to miss on the first lap. Most of the good riders in the race made it across so I had to chase really hard on the descent, and work with other riders in the field to bring it back together.
As we started the second lap, we caught the break, and the group was reduced by about half of the racers. On the second time up the climb, a group of six of the strongest riders attacked really hard; I knew that was the time to go, but I jumped a bit late with 6 others to try and bridge across. I paced myself up the climb with patience, trying to keep my power around 350 watts to save the legs a little bit. I then slowly made it across to the lead group bringing some other guys with me, and made the front selection of around twelve riders. We still had 4 laps to go with almost 6,000 feet of climbing left; the field was already very small, but I was happy to be in the front move, and my legs were starting to feel better.
KHS/Maxxis had more riders in that front selection, but some of the other riders in the group were good pro’s, which made the race really hard because they were riding very aggressively on every lap. The race kept getting harder for everyone from there on, and by the 6th and final lap we were only four riders left in that front group including a rider from Socalcycling, one from KHS/Maxxis, one from Bissell and myself. The KHS/Maxxis rider, which I believe was Thomas Jondall, made a good attack going into the last lap, which forced me and the other two to chase him really hard. When we caught Thomas, I decided to lift the pace myself, and rode most of the last climb close to 400 watts. I was able to ride away from my break companions, holding about a minute gap to the Bissell rider, who finished second at the top of the last climb. I got as aero as possible on the last descent because I knew the Bissell rider was very strong, and wanted to make sure he didn’t made it back to me. I was feeling really good towards the end of the race and held a good pace all the way to the finish, which got me my first win of the season.
Overall the race was a lot of fun. I would like to thank the organizers of the race. I would also like to dedicate this win to my awesome Team Incycle-Predator, and to all my friends who helped me made this win possible as well.