First things first, thanks to my amazing team mates. Couldn’t do it without you guys! Thanks to Big Daddy for the coaching on the race tactic (he called the race and wasn’t even there!) Not many of you know my coach but, Jed Darby at Perfect Endurance has coached me for the last two years and brought me to a fitness level I couldn’t have achieved otherwise. Thanks to all of our sponsors that help make Elite possible! I couldn’t race without yall’s support! And thanks to everyone on LaS’port for being our fans and support crew and cheering squad! Love all you guys!
Ok now to the good stuff! The Story!!!
It started out like any other first of the year race…. right out the gate brakes squealing, tires locking up and making flat spots, people cussing each other for slamming on the brakes, other people running off the road to avoid the idiots that just slammed on the brakes…. all the good stuff that just makes you shake your head and laugh hoping that it will be the last one and that everyone is done being dumbys…. and then the lead car pulled off…. yea Pro/1 race and we can’t even ride together at 8 mph without trying to kill each other. So with all the pre race jitters out and everyone calling everyone else a cat 5 out of the way we started the race 🙂
The first couple of miles were fast but not violent. After a few miles some attacks started going up the road and La S’port was well represented in moves that we didn’t have to work too hard to get into or that looked promising. The whole team did a great job in taking turns with covering attacks. After about 15 miles a promising break had made it about 30-40 seconds up the road and there was no La Sport represented. Michael noticed the urgency of the situation and hurried to the front to pick up the pace. Mike put in a huge effort up a couple climbs and got a few guys motivated to take turns with him. Mike was on the front again on a long downhill drilling the pace when I saw that the break was down to about 15-20 seconds. Mike had done the work to bring it back close enough to where I wanted to take a shot at going across the gap.
For those of you that don’t know, I messed up last weekend at the crit in Monroe and missed the break. Not only did I miss the break but Matt did lots of work to pull them back in and I didn’t take the opportunity to bridge the gap in the crit and we all know that I had to settle for 3rd because that 2 man break wound up making it to the line and we never caught it. THAT WAS NOT HAPPENING AGAIN!
I figured that no one knowing me in TX I had a shot at making it across solo. Well no one knows me but everyone thinks I’m Matt Davis… its good and bad. The gold on the bike was an easy tell that I was not Matt this weekend 🙂
I took Big Daddy walkers advice in more ways than one this weekend. I used the terrain to my advantage and used my momentum of the downhill to attack the field on the uphill. I was going 10-15 mph faster than the field on my attack by starting it from the back. It had worked! I was off the front of the field solo and hadnt really had to sprint at all. Now the real work started. Looking back at profiles it took me 1:43 to bridge the gap on the uphill. I caught the 6 man break right at the top of the climb but my hard work was just beginning. With myself Boneshaker, Elbowz, Giant, and Super Squadra in the break we knew we had to go hard because Think Finance team had not made the move. I can’t remember who the other two guys in the initial break were but they were not working with us in rotation and we attacked them until we dropped them and it was down to a 5 man break and 57 miles left to ride!
We went hard for a good 30 min and got a call up from the moto-ref that we had established our break at 1:40 ahead of the field. In the next hour I settled in to rotation with the other 4 riders and we rode well together. We had a long way to go so we slowed a tad and took longer pulls. The wind was a huge factor in our successful break in my opinion. The terrible side winds kept the peleton from being able to hide behind Think Finance at all. Within the next hour Think had pulled our break back down to only 30 seconds and we could see them on the long straights. Logan Hutchings from Boneshaker and Brett Crosby from Giant told myself and the other two guys that we would have to get moving NOW if we wanted the break to stick so we went back to short pulls gnawing on the handlebars trying to keep myself from going cross-eyed!
With 10 miles to go we had kept the peleton from catching us! Looking back I could see the remainder of the peleton was shattered. Groups of 3-7 were forming as small chase groups instead of an organized peleton. Logan saw this as his opportunity and launched and attack up a long climb. He and Crosby were by far the strong guys in the break. The entire day in the break I had been continuing to pull through no matter how I felt in hopes that the big guys seeing that I was still willing and able to help, they would refrain from attacking me. It had worked thus far but now it was time to go into the pain cave and stay there till the line. I put my head down and dropped super squadra and elbowz to make my way up to Boneshaker and Giant (Logan and Crosby). It took almost everything I had to make the catch but I made it before the end of the climb. They were pleasantly supprised to see they had another guy to work with still for the remaining 10 miles. I think they had seen that I was the next strongest guy in the break as I had not skipped a pull other than to eat so they were content to work with me and not attack. My plan had worked! By no means did we slow down but at least the surging was over for now. We took turns pulling hard until about 3 miles to go. I knew if they attacked too much I was done for. I also knew if I got out the draft I was done for as my legs still had pop left but no sustained efforts. I was gritting my teeth just to continue to pull through.
I had to fake that I was still in good shape (another Russ/Andy tactic I have learned) Never let the opponent know how bad off you are. I needed rest badly and we had a 2 man chase group about 15 seconds behind us. I hung my head and didn’t pull through the next time around. I pulled behind Crosby because he was the much bigger guy and the better draft. They must have thought I was done. Logan attacked. I stayed tucked behind crosby and didn’t let them go anywhere. This continued the last 2 miles for 5-7 attacks. The 2 chasers were only 5-6 seconds off of us with 1k to go and the last k was a steep climb up to 200m to go then a downhill finish. Two thoughts went through my head.
1) I can’t get worse than 3! not after all this work off the front! So dont let the chasers catch us Stephen!
2) If I pull from 1k to the top of the climb at a false tempo (hard effort but not hard enough to hurt me) I may keep these two guys from attacking me until the end and accomplish the fact that I don’t wanna be caught by the two close chasers.
So I went to the front and led the climb with a little surge right at the top. The two guys stayed right behind me and came around right at the top. Perfectly enough for me to scoot in right behind Crosby. Logan started the sprint and Crosby sat just long enough to get to speed. We were on the right hand side of the road with a stiff left side cross wind. Crosby came around Logan and I stayed tucked in his draft. I knew I had to stay there as long as I could. With 50m to go I found one last sprint and took Crosby just before the line! I coudn’t believe I had beaten these two! I still can’t believe I won that race!
By far the biggest win of my career so far in cycling. A Pro/1 field in TX with a ton of heavy hitters in it! Hats off to Russ Big Daddy Walker for the play by play of how I should race this one! You nailed it and I had the legs to finish it off!
Andy and Johhny stayed in the peleton and both finished a respectable top 30. Mike had an issue and had to pull out in the race but he did exactly what was needed at the right time! Thanks Mike! Matty Muffin had an inopportune PeePee break and wound up chasing form miles and miles into a head wind. I took this bad example and did the same on sunday at Pace Bend, but I did successfully pee off the bike for the first time ever. A win in its self for me. I was told I shouldn’t be a C1 if I can’t pee off the bike. Well I did that and won a Pro/1 TX race this weekend. 🙂
Again none of this is possible without team mates that were willing to sacrifice themselves to help put me in position to win the race and of course the wisdom of Big Daddy to tell us how to bring home the W in a big TX race!