by Michael Hast
Praise the LORD for a wonderful weekend at the 29th Tucson Bicycling Classic. The time trail was only 3 miles, but it was quite challenging with the 2 uphill sections. Because it was only 3 miles and we had a tailwind, I didn't hold back anything on the first downhill section. Even though I think I paid a little for it on the last 2 hills, I still think this was the right strategy, putting me in 10th place.
On the second day was the Road Race. The strategy was simple. Try to stay in a position in the top 20 to avoid being dropped on any breakaway attempts. And if there were to be any breakaways, try to get with them and stay away. Because Kyle won the TT, team TriSports controlled the race. We had to race 3 laps. The first lap was pretty tame until the crosswind hit on La Canada. A few breakaways happened which were chased down pretty fast. I was in the front on the subsequent uphill ride and dropped back right before Sprint hill. At that time Big Mike launched his attack, but I was unable to catch him because I was stuck behind a few riders. Erik from TriSports chased Mike down, but was unwilling to work at all with Mike because his teammate was in 1st place. That would have been a great breakaway to be in. On the second lap another rider launched a breakaway. He was also chased down by Erik. Both of them were able to stay away for 1 lap. Coming onto La Canada, I launched an attack to bridge to that breakaway and I was successful. All of a sudden Kyle and 2 other riders bridged up to us as well. Now I thought we would be able to stay away, but were caught by the main pack on the uphill. On the last lap I made another breakaway attempt before the turn onto the uphill section, shredding the main pack. I didn't want to go up Duval Mine road in a large group. That cost me some energy which I didn't have when the speed ever so slightly increased towards the finish. Buzz came by and said to draft off his wheel, but I was unable to do so. Even though I didn't place in the top 10 that day, I managed to move up into 9th place in GC.
Michael leading the way
The Circuit Race was on the last day. We teamed up with TriSports to get Kyle back into 1st place. The plan was for him to win the intermediate sprint in lap 3 to gain the few seconds needed by him to win and then for a breakaway to win the race and take up all sprint bonuses. Right from the start the pace was intense. Team TriSports wanted to shrink the field down to a manageable size. From that intense start a group of 3 managed to break away. Kyle and Erik launched an attack chasing down that group in order to follow the plan. They were followed by a few other riders. I stayed put waiting patiently for my turn. I was so tempted to just launch an attack and chase them down. Kyle got his sprint bonus and the breakaway slowed down so that we could catch them. Then at the beginning of the 4th lap (of 5), Big Mike launched an attack and a few other riders followed, including Buzz and I. We gained about 30 seconds in that 4th lap, but were chased down by the pack led by the race leader in the middle of the final lap. It came down to a mass sprint which I timed much better than other finishes. After the last turn I lost a few places, saving some energy for the sprint. I was able to sneak in between 2 riders and launched into 9th place for that race. Overall I moved up into 8th place for GC. It was a well planned and by far the most exciting race this season.
Michael and Buzz after the race (photo by Evan Robold)