W&M race report
I was pretty apprehensive going into Saturday’s road race. A solid performance there last year mixed with a changed course and field dynamics kept me wondering how the race would play out. Attacks flew starting shortly after the neutral roll-out and I made it a point to attempt to get in the early break by responding to numerous attacks as well as initiating my own.
However, a few laps later there was little sign that any move would get away. On the penultimate lap, Kevin Gottlieb (UVA) got a decent gap while the pack looked around at each other. Rob put in a dig in attempts to make contact, but was quickly reeled back as was Jacob Miller. Moments later, Matt Rinehart went flying away from the pack as Stephen Smith (NC State) sprinted onto his wheel. The duo eventually made contact with Gottlieb to make the winning break. The last 12 miles or so were met with numerous attempts to bridge up to the break by unrepresented teams. I spent the majority of my time shutting down moves or hoping to get a free ride to the break. Nonetheless, nothing materialized and a field sprint was inevitable. Uphill finishes are my forte, so I sought good positioning going into the last couple of miles. Miller put on a great show by pulling for the last 2 miles to discourage any late race attacks as I sat third wheel. Ferris jumped at 1.5k to go with me in tow, but a surge from NC State required a second jump onto their train. My good positioning in the sprint was nullified by cramping in the last 300m to be consoled with 13th place on the day. A stiff-leg sprint isn’t the way to finish there. Rinehart won from the break by dispatching Smith early on, and then eventually Gottlieb in the closing miles. The whole team rode well not only resulting in the win, but 5 riders in the top 15 as well.
Crits are not something that I have excelled on in the past. Jumping out of corners repeatedly for 60 minutes is not my cup of tea. Nonetheless, I was excited about this one and it was the first CR of the season, so I was ready to rock (well, in relative terms). The course demanded fighting for the first and last corners as there was little room to move up otherwise. Good positioning here would be crucial. I got a great warm-up in and lined up on the front row ready to fight. Going into the first corner, I was riding about 5th wheel, which was awesome. Lost a few positions over the next couple of laps, but on lap 3 was riding in the select group of riders who would determine the race. Unfortunately, I was caught up behind a crash which sent Jacob Miller into the curb and lost a handful of positions which put me chasing back on the main group of 12. I chased with W&M, AU, UMD, and VT riders to get back on. Fifteen minutes in, it was only the VT rider and I with about 10 people still in the running ahead of us. We got to within 5-10 seconds of the lead group when a Navy rider went down in the last corner, he laid there unconscious for a few laps until the race was officially neutralized. After the ambulance came, it was decided that the course was too dangerous to compete on at the speeds in which A riders took the corners, so the race was cancelled. Overall, it was a bummer, but I think about 5 riders had gone down in the race in the 15 minutes it lasted, one unconscious.