Monday, 7 September 2009

Very, very, very close

We just got back from the criterium finale of GMSR, and the way the race played out pretty well captures the whole weekend. The race was 50 laps on a 1km, 6-corner course in downtown Burlington. I came into the day 9th on GC and 6th in the sprint competition, and the goal was to move up a few spots in GC and/or the sprint competition, win money, and win the stage.

Early into the race I threw some chum into the water. I wasn't really hoping to go off alone but that's what happened. I was off for around ten laps but was brought back at the first time bonus sprint. I was feeling pretty snappy so I decided to go for the next hot spot sprint, which also carried $50 for first. The final turn was a fast, bumpy downhill into an uphill, tailwind sprint of about 150m. I attacked going into the turn and pretty easily won, sitting up about halfway to the line.

A few minutes later they rang the bell for a $600 crowd prime, another goal for the day. There was one guy solo off the front by about 100m, but the swarming pack brought him back to about 50m going into the sprint. I did the same move as before, attacking into the downhill turn, and again pretty easily held off the guys behind and just pipped the solo rider for the single biggest cash prize of the whole weekend (sorry buddy).

That was working so well I decided to go for the final hot spot sprint and see if I could snag the sprint jersey and another $50. The tricky part was the sprint was going to be at just 5 laps to go, and I didn't want to blow the finish. But since I was opening up such a gap with my little move I decided that if I could take the hot spot and had the same gap again I would just put my head down and go for the solo win.

Sure enough, the same script played out and after a moment of hesitation I went into pursuit mode for the final 5k effort. I almost immediately regretted it. Even though I quickly opened up a full straight-away gap, I was much stronger sprinting than I was pursuiting on the hilly, windy course. Going into two to go I dared to think I could hold it off. Unfortunately, I had just 20m going into the final corner, was totally shattered, obviously not going as fast as the pack, and was gobbled up in the sprint about 25m from the line.

I held on for 9th in the race, and moved up one spot on GC to finish 8th overall. I also jumped to 2nd in the sprint competition for my efforts. All in all not a bad day, but I'm a little bummed because I'm pretty sure I could have won that final sprint. At the same time, had I not attacked through that sprint with 5 to go, and THEN not won the race, I would be kicking myself significantly harder for not going for it.

So it didn't pay off, but I think it was the move to make, and the crowd and other racers knew and acknowledged it. I successfully cracked the field for about two laps and it took a 5-man lead out from some Swedish team (here for Univest) to bring it back. For now I'll take the hit and sleep well tonight knowing that the form is good for Univest and I raced all-in. The warmth of sleeping on a bed of 600 one-dollar bills will also help.

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