Long Beach St. Patrick’s Day Criterium Race Report: Justin Williams, CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team
On Sunday, I met up with the rest of my CashCall Mortgage teammates in Tustin, CA to ride to the race. Everyone was stoked to see each other and it was really cool to ride the 40 miles together. It was nice to have time on the bike to talk, joke and reflect on the last few weeks of racing prior to the race without being in a rush. We had a good ride over with a few exciting moments with city traffic, that’s for sure. The more time we spend together, the better we learn to understand and work well with each other. It was also a huge plus having Devan Dunn back on the bike riding with us.
This race is my home race, I have trained on this course since I was 13 years old. I love the course. It is wide open with plenty of space in the corners and always fast. The conditions are a little different on race day with more wind and the wind showing up in different places. This year the home straight was tail wind and the back straight was head wind, which made for a fast hard race.
CashCall Mortgage had 9 guys (Fabrizio Von Nacher, David Santos, Brian McCulloch, Logan Loader, Cole House, Wes Holloway, Chris Barton, Michael Weicht and myself) in the field, giving us a a big advantage. We always start the race aggressive and ended up getting Michael, Logan, and Holloway up the road early. That put us in a good spot with all three guys having really good kicks at the end of a hard race. The group up the road grew too big for our liking though, with a hand full of Monster Media riders getting across. So we decided to reshuffle it. Halfway through the race, we had Logan up the road in a breakaway of 3 riders. Chris, Dave, and Brian half way across the gap in a group of four. The rest of the guys sat in the field waiting to see how this would play out.
In the last 15 minutes of the race, we had a situation on our hands and we’d have to think fast. Monster Media and Cal-Giant brought the group of four riders between groups back to the main field and Logan was getting attacked and counter attacked by the riders in the break. Knowing he had Fabrizio and I in the field, Logan sat up from the break and the chase was on.
We had 5 laps to bring back 30 seconds and the guys buried themselves to get us there. With 2 laps to go, the gap to the breakaway of two riders was at 10-15 seconds and we needed a bit more steam. Fabrizio left my side and took a long hard pull at the front to give the other boys a little rest and close the gap to 5 seconds. We caught the two leaders with one lap to go and my guys put me in position to close the race for the team. Michael, Cole, and Fabrizio saved just enough to get me to the last corner and I started my sprint with 200 meters to go.
Today was a perfect example of how much of team sport cycling truly is. Without all of my CashCall Mortgage teammates, this victory would not have been possible. Thanks to them, we achieved the win as a team.
After the race, we had our team meeting, put our vests back on and jumped back on the bikes to ride back to Tustin. On the two hour ride back to OC, spirits were high and I feel like I earned the respect and trust of my guys. We had fun and rode hard all the way home, testing each other after 100 plus miles. It was a great day for the CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team.
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