By : Jesse Anthony
Optum Pro Cycling | Presented By Kelly Benefit Strategies
I lined up in the field with about 70 riders and planned to race conservatively for the first half of the race. I floated in the field for a bit, while riders at the front unsuccessfully tried to sort out a break away. The race began to split apart slightly only a few laps in, so I jumped across a gap to a large, merging breakaway. My attack sounded the alarm bells and the field was soon welded back together.
I again retreated mid-pack to recover and see how things played out, but I sensed a lack of cohesion and firepower in the field. My teammate, Ian Moir, told me that his legs were taking a long time to warm up, so I stayed attentive of the moves going off the front. Around the 20 minute mark I again jumped across the gap to a pair of attacking riders, bringing 1 rider with me. As soon as the 4 of us got together we began working together smoothly to establish a gap. There was hesitation in the field and we quickly gained 20 seconds.
The 4 of us now settled into a rhythm and I encouraged the guys to keep the tempo steady and see how the field reacted. I wanted our group to stay together because everyone was working so well together and we still had nearly an hour still to race. Our gap grew slowly to 30 and then 35 seconds and remained there through the meat of the race. Coming into the final half hour we twisted the throttle just a hair and our gap opened to 40 seconds with 20 minutes to go.
Our group was still rotating fluidly which ultimately ensured our success. In the last 15 minutes I tried to shake myself lose from my breakaway partners as I was confident the gap would hold. I didn’t want it to come down to a sprint, which I see as comparable with letting an MMA fight come down to the judges. I was unable to get away, though, and settled for sprinting it out. I was confident going into the sprint and came though the last corner in 2nd place. The rider in front of me, Brandon Gritters, led out the sprint from fairly far out and I jumped with 150 meters to go. I had enough speed to hold off the other 2 riders and very excitedly secured my first win in 2013.
I am really happy to win such a prestigious race and one of the oldest criteriums in California. I’m also excited for the upcoming Cascade Cycling classic and hitting the 2nd half of the season with some happy legs.
Big thanks to Acura for supporting us in their home region and keeping us mobile all around North America.