Every team was out in full force at the Masters State Criterium Championship, which usually means it’s going to be a tough day at the office. The Breakaway from Cancer (BfC) team has had a few challenges. Thurlow Rogers just started riding again after almost three months off with a badly broken arm, Steve Strickler has a badly bruised rib and has been off the bike for a few weeks, and Brett Claire had the flu earlier in the week. But still holding it together, Keith Ketterer has been racing and winning on the track, Malcolm Hill comes out regularly and races two to three races, and Robb Mesecher is usually out and ready to rock as well.
The race start was a bit later than usual since there were so many district crit races to run. Our race was at 12:55 pm scheduled for 45 minutes of fast and furious racing. When we lined up, it was a bit windier than when we race earlier in the day. The field was approximately 100 strong.
I was motivated to get a break as early as possible so that we were not sprinting with 100 guys, but as the race progressed, that tactic did not seem like it was going to work out Many teams were taking turns at the front. Attacks were happening all over the road and parts of the course. The finishing stretch had a tail wind, which meant that it was going to be hard to pass people in a sprint.
Many small breaks were attempted but didn’t last long. The word of the day was attack and counter attack. It was happening constantly without any hesitation. There were a few great strong breaks with a lot of teams represented however as the race clock was counting down I knew that it was going to turn into a field sprint. At five laps to go, I could feel that the race pace was fast but that the teams were all starting to set up for a field sprint.
On the bell lap, I was lined up fifth in line right behind strongman Brett Claire because I did not want to be too close to the front in this situation. We rounded turn one, head down to turn two and into the head wind section we went. In, turn three the pace picked up and I was still sitting on Brett. All of a sudden from the inside, Mark Noble (Time Racing) punches it past me into turn four and it was full out racing to the line from there. Noble had two to three bike lengths on me in the final stretch. As I muscled my way down the home finish straight I finally got on top of the gear and was able to overtake Noble for the win. He held on for second with Craig Miller (BBI-Schroeder Iron) finishing third.
I’d like to thank Paramount Racing and the Orange County Wheelman for putting on such a great State Crit Championship. Thanks also to all the volunteers, the race officials and the racers for making it a safe day, and last but not least my BfC teammates, for a job well done by all.
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