The Monster Media/MRI team showed up in full force yesterday for the San Marcos Criterium. I think we had 10 guys, which was by far the most of any other team. I know it seems like we’re always stacking the fields but the usual numbers for us are more like six to eight. That said when all the guys come out, our tactics change a little bit. We went into the race only wanting to accept a situation that would give us a near certain win.
We knew from past editions that the San Marcos is a selective race that gets very hard, very quick, which plays to our strengths. There’s a hard little hill with a false flat into a cross wind, a tricky downhill turn, and a section of cross-tailwind that always ends up in the gutter with you searching for the 11. Our plan was to keep the pressure on until we were happy with the mix.
Travis Wilkerson, (Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW) took a risk and went all-in on lap one, turn one. I yelled at him, “You F*%&#+!,” because I’m old and I don’t like to start fast. So, if he didn’t hear me, there it is for you again buddy. He’s been riding super strong all year and I knew when he went he wasn’t fooling around. He only had one teammate in the race with him so taking matters into his own hands instead of trying to cover every one of the 20 attacks that he knew we would throw at the field was a smart move. Luckily, my teammate, Phil Tintsman, went with him and from what Phil told me they were going good and hard right away. The gap opened pretty quick and once they were out there I talked to my teammate Karl Bordine and we decided it was a good move for us as Phil is super quick in the uphill sprint, but it was so far to go, and you just never know with a one-on-one. Plus Phil could flat in the last 3 laps. That actually happened to us last week. Anything is possible in a 50 minute breakaway, so while the odds were good they weren’t guaranteed.
As I mentioned, because of the numbers we had in the race, we decided to cover everything and look for an opportunity to strengthen our numbers up ahead. Sure enough, after a whole bunch of attacks from the field, an OTR rider went hard on the top half of the hill and John Abate (Monster Media/MRI) and I covered it. He went at a great moment when the pressure had really been on for quite a while. So, with that and a few of my teammates near the front to let the gap open, we had 15 seconds right away. Immediately I told John we were going full gas until we caught Phil and Travis. Our OTR guy was all about helping and it took us a few laps to close the next 30 seconds to the lead two but we got there. As soon as we did, all five of us fell into a great rotation and that was the race.
At that point it becomes all about assessing, watching and storing data on the other two in the break and thinking about the end. Travis and the OTR dude (Brian Forbes) were both doing their fare share, so we weren’t going to attack them until the end.
With two laps to go it started. Like I said, this race gets hard and going full gas on that course for the better part of 40 minutes will take it out of anyone so I felt strongly there was an opportunity there. Going down the hill I yelled at John to keep the pace hot into the turn and I jumped hard out of it and opened a pretty big gap pretty quick. I had Phil and John sitting on behind so there was no reason to hold anything back as I was confident that even if the two other guys caught me my teammates would hit it again and that one would stick. As it worked out, I made it to the line for the win and Phil cleaned up the sprint for second. Props to Travis and the OTR racer for having a go and taking matters into their own hands against big odds instead of lettin