Santa Maria is one town over from where I’m staying (Alaro) = no brainer; let’s race! It was HOT, 105F and muggy. A punchy circuit of 6 laps; think Murrieta but the climb was about 8% for about 1.5 miles.
Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure to ride with the island’s best, courtesy of the hall pass my wife gets from being on the Olympic team. Let’s see, Toni Colom (Contador’s former teammate on Astana), David Muntaner (Spanish Olympic team & 2nd in Spanish Elite TT champs last week), Martyn Irvine (Irish Olympic team & 2nd in his Pro TT Nats last week) and Recep (Turkey U23 phenom and headed to U23Euro worlds as I type), a world class group! Therefore, these guys gave me the heads up on what teams to pay attention to in the race.
The race kicked off and nothing happened until the climb. To my surprise, we hit the climb and the crowd was INSANE! They were cheering, wearing wigs, costumes and horns; it was insane and something that you have to experience.
We go over the climb all together and the attacks started but nothing to worry about; I rolled onto the teams I needed to stay focused on. A group of us finally pinched off, and all but 1 team was represented, so I was working hard with the boys. There were about 10 of us.
Fast forward to lap 4 of 6, the pack was getting back onto the 10 of us. We were at the base of the climb as the pack latched on; an ideal time to blast it up the climb. So, I hit it, and off we went!
Four of us were now gone with 2 laps to go. The 2 key teams were represented and I was committed. On the 5th time up the climb I was hoping to see if we could shrink the 4 down to 2 riders, so I went full gas. No dice, we all regrouped shortly after that, bummer! Dotsie was at the top of the climb feeding me each lap and said the boys were twisted inside out and that I just needed more climb to make it stick, but when you run out of real estate, well, you run out of real estate. Plan B.
On the last lap, I had no clue who these guys were and I’d rather not sprint with them, so I planned my attack. At the beginning of the last time up the climb, I was thinking it’s ‘GO TIME’, but my calf said, NO! I started to cramp; I guess the 105 degree heat caught up to the Cali Kid. At that moment the French guy in the break attacked; we responded and followed which hurt all of us; we were all gassed over the top. We got back onto the flats and I was thinking, ‘OK, a couple of big efforts and I’m going!’ However, the other 3 guys had plans of their own and they took turns attacking and staring at me to chase. I tried to call their bluff but it didn’t work.
With 5K to go I looked back and the remnants of the field were strung out to get to us, and ultimately the final sprint. I had a choice to make, risk going back to the field by playing attack and chase with these guys or push the pace and hope for the best of 4; I decided to GO!
Here I was all-in and my calves were cramping and legs wanted to cease. I pushed on, giving the other 3 a nice ride to the line. I opened up a sprint from the front and it felt like slow motion. With 200 meters to go the town was going bananas (think Dana Point GP). I heard Dotsie screaming, ‘“nobody has come around yet”, and thought I may be able to hold the sprint. With 100 meters to go and I was thinking, ‘I’m gonna win!’, then BAM 2 guys came around me for 1-2 and I held onto 3rd. The pack sprinted in 15-seconds behind us.
Post race was just as AMAZING. The town stayed up until 11pm eating and drinking and cheering on the junior races. The cycling culture is like a huge family in Mallorca. While hanging out with the racers that night, several teams asked if I would be coming back in October for the Master’s Championship and Master’s 5 day stage race; Surf City Cyclery/Sterling BMW may have to represent!