by Dion Smith(Full Circle Cycling)
On the ride over, I had some bad sensations in the legs, I think from 2 previous days of hard training, so I was more looking to just sit in and use the race as some good training. The start of the race was pretty rapid, which was no surprise, with attacks going from left, righ,t and center, but I lknew with such a fast course nothing would really get established for the first half of the race with everyone being so fresh.
At about the halfway mark, a group of around 15 of us slipped away from the bunch. I was the only guy from my team there and just about everyone else in the break had a teammate or 2, so I was a bit worried, but that did give me the excuse to sit in a bit more. The gap didn’t increase tomuch more than 20 to 30 seconds for the first couple of laps, which meant some guys in the bunch attempted to get across the deceivingly small gap. To my delight, I saw the figure of one of my teammates (Christian Varley) coming across, so I eased off the back a little to help him bridge that last little bit, which is always the hardest! Having Christian there made for a better chance for us to get on the podium.
Once the gap stretched out to over a minute and a half, the racing got a bit negative and guys started not working. That meant for some more attacks and then some more chasing. Cat and mouse tactics went on for a while. No one was able to get a good gap before someone decided he didn’t like it and shut it down.
Getting near the finish, my legs started to come round and I decided that maybe I had a chance to win. I had a crack and attacked with 2 laps (about 10 kilometers) to go. I looked back and saw I had a gap and was accompanied by two other riders. They looked just as committed, so we worked well and got a decent lead. The finish was a long, uphill, power climb. I knew from riding it 14 times before that you would have to leave the sprint quite late otherwise you would blow up–unless you were Peter Sagan, of course!
Coming up the climb the final time, we started to slow down and look at each other. One of the guys went a bit early, which worked out well for me, and I was able to get straight on his wheel. With about 150 meters to go, I came round him and Knew I had it in the bag. To my horror, my chain slipped off the big chainring. I frantically got the chain onto the little ring then back up to the big chainring, but in the meantime my breakaway companion was coming around me. With 50m to go we had to push hard and dig deep. Someone must love me up above, as I managed to get the win by a tire’s width!
I’m happy with my effort. It’s my first win in the States and I hope to pick up a few more. Also, thanks to Full Circle Cycling for the support and to my fellow teammates for their help.