Feel so much better than last week, don't care what happens result-wise today. I am here to help get our sprint train to the line and help however I can along the way and to conserve what I can for the finish since a couple of our workhorses had to back out of the race at the last second.
Spend most of the race out of the wind, and only sticking my nose out there if a team mate is behind me as I was directed. A few times help pace riders back to the pack after some of the turns and the small hills, trying to keep the pace for us at tempo instead of going crazy and going anerobic to keep up with the surges of the main pack. We went about a minute slower this year over forty eight miles but we also got neutralized several times for passing fields, I felt much better after the race this year so conserving made a huge difference.
This year we did not have the crash within two miles of the finish so it played out much differently, instead of about twenty five guys contesting the finish we had fifty. Last year I had to do a pursuit effort to catch back up to the group and then I went all out for the last kilometer. This year our train was actually working OK, but at a critical moment when I was in front of our sprinter, I followed my teammate and we that were leading our group next to the pack boxed ourselves in, and our sprinter passed us. I was able to get back on his wheel to serve as a sweeper until there was a surge at the last turn before the base of the hill, and someone moved onto his wheel before I could get on it. Frack. Just then Michael attacked and I was stuck behind a sea of riders unable to do anything to help out. I resigned myself to finishing at the back of the pack, but held out hope for getting back up to our sprinter to help out and stuck my handlebars into any gaps that opened up in what felt like a sea of sardines. Before I even had a chance to try to sprint, I could see the finish banner ahead, there were only four riders ahead of me but the riders adjacent to me didn't give me the space and opportunity to pass safely so I finished fifth without even sprinting. On the one hand if I had been free to move up maybe I would have just blown up like the thirty guys I passed and ended up much farther back, on the other hand I really wish I had been able to be part of the leadout train that we had planned so the ending would not have been such an anticlimactic affair. It seems a lot of our races end up like this, with a lot of people able to finish with the group but not able to contest the sprint due to not having space to move or the legs to do anything. At the end of the sprint my power is low (8w/kg...) and the heart rate is super high probably because of adrenaline and forgetting to upshift so I am spinning at the max the computer can measure.
Thanks to Elizabeth Freer for capturing this moment in pictures, it really was that crowded.
Did another lap to get a video of the last six miles of the course.
D: 75.3 km