This past weekend was the Tour of Elk Grove. Being that we are not a US Pro Tour Team we competed in the cat. 1/2 race. 60K on a literal out and back styled criterium course. Add in some heat, sun, humidity, $17,500 in prize money, and another 120 riders, and you have a mixing pot of chaos. We rostered a small team of 6-riders in Ryan Rish, Frankie Dierking, Ryan Gamm, Josh England, Marco Aledia, and myself. We lost Josh early on due to the evil corners and probably nearly lost everyone else at some point. I avoided two hairball crashes in some unknown fashion. For all those crashes that catch you there are those that you somehow make it through.
Primes were loaded and I found myself going for one. In the end there was one stronger guy in my group of five who took it. My legs had sprint but his had more. The rest of the day was circulating through the field, setting tempo on the front to close on breaks when I could, and being a jerk trying to stay near the front. A few laps to go Grand Performance took over the front and set tempo. There was a guy up the road but he was "hanging paper" and was no worry. I can only think GP was trying to just ride in a safe spot because there really was no other reason to set up a leadout train when the last lap with no doubt be a loss of control and their sprinter was missing. Tactically it made no sense and proved fruitless, but it was impressive to see most of them get to the front. I was asked why we didn't come up and work with them. Hmmmm? What was it that we were suppose to work with them for? They are a strong team, a good group of guys, and one to watch out for at Downer's this weekend. We were all over the board. In the end Marco pulled off a second place and just missed the win by an inch or two. The difference? $4000 and $2000. We just could not get any riders up to help him. Trust me, I tried. I was moving quickly to the front but got caught up behind a flat tire/crashed dude between the two last corners. I got up on the sidewalk, sprinted, jumped back in before the barriers, and then got checked into the barriers losing all my momentum. Damn! Frankie got caught up in that mess too. We could have ridden better as a team but there were so many other factors to figure in. We did what we could do and that is all you can do sometimes. The guys rode strong.
In the end it was Marco's show. He is the caggy little sprinter who will throw down with the best of them. He had an absolutely great race. 2nd and two primes!
Now it is a rest week and then off to Downer's Grove. I guess we were saving the win for one more weekend. Saturday night I am skipping the Pro/Am and racing the Master's race with my fellow Abercrombie Master's crew. We have a good crew for that plus I can sit back and watch our criterium specialists race afterwards. Sunday, it is the full troop. I sense a couple of jerseys. Ciao -Ian