Friendly rivals: Phil from BRT, Mr. 270+ career wins and still a cat 4 :)
This course has a long gradual uphill start/finish, a short, sharper uphill right, a long gradual downhill, steep downhill turn right and a right turn into the start/finish straight.
I was just going to sit on the start line for staging but someone told me we would have five minutes while they towed a car so I went off to take a couple of laps but they staged us after the first lap. Doh, again. I got stuck at the back and prepared myself mentally for working pretty hard at the beginning to pass the riders who would be dropped.
At the gun, lots of riders had trouble getting clipped in and filled the width of the start finish (crowded even further by the fancy start/finish arch ) so as soon as we got up to speed we at the back had our work cut out for us as I could see the lead riders already at least one hundred meters up the road at the turn. During the first five laps I had to work pretty hard to continually pass riders who were getting blown out the back. Finally got in contact with the lead group on the seventh lap and tried to recover a bit, about 4.3 w/kg NP for the first ten minutes, unfortunately for me, the hardest effort of the race. After a bit I was able to surf up closer and closer to the front. The most difficult part of the course is figuring out who is braking too much in the final downhill corner and who was taking it without braking, and following them. If someone took the corner well one did not have to pedal very hard but if they blew it, one had to put in a big effort to get back on the pack. In our group the hill was doable in the big ring, I never shifted from the 50 but did use the 23 in the back a few time to save my legs.
With about half of the race done, the loud explosion of a tire rang out in the last corner but it seemed fine until folks started braking a bit much and then I saw someone faceplant. That took the wind out of my sails quite a bit and set a new goal of just finishing, but still had to make up about thirty meters on the pack. Burned a match on the two uphill sections of the course, did tempo on the downhill, and looked back for help and a Cyclesports rider was game and took us the rest of the way back up to the pack, but it still took me three laps to get my breath back.
During the last four laps I made the same tactical mistake that I did at the Giro of only trying to move up on the steep uphill and getting stuck but I really wanted to go to work on Monday, so I did not try that hard otherwise to position myself for the sprint and finished in the middle of what was left of the pack. Had to brake a couple of times to wait for an opening during the final sprint.
This was possibly the hardest and longest criterium of the year for me. Disappointing with my result but can say I finished out the season with zero crashes and probably the best fitness I have ever had. Now if I could just get my head screwed on right for the tactics part of this. I need courses that are hard enough to whittle down the field due to attrition but not so hard that I get dropped in order to do well. I am really surprised I have done well in races with short hills - my short time interval power is relatively low and my longer time interval power is relatively high which would lead someone to reach the opposite conclusion for racing success.
13/75 ( 25 finishers )
S: 40.6 // this is faster than a lot of the flat criteriums I did this year.