by Buzz Wright
I'm not really a fan of time trials. My power is pretty low compared to other riders and I don't really enjoy long, straight, steady-state suffering. But, the TT is necessary in order to do the RR and crit, so I had to do it. I haven't spent much time in the TT position and wasn't able to generate as much power as normal (about 10% lower), but I wasn't too concerned with the results so it didn't bother me. I was passed by Kyle, Michael, and a third guy who ended up taking 1st place for the day. I finished right in the middle of the Cat 4's with 26th out of 52 racers. About 4.5 minutes behind the leader. I was just happy the TT was over.
My plan for the road race was simply to do whatever I could to help Michael out. He was sitting in 7th for the overall, 21 seconds behind 6th. Our hope was to move him up in the GC. On the second lap I had a little scare when I rode over the rumble strips on the side of the highway and lost a bottle. When we hit the climb on that second lap there was a decent split that occurred and our front group was around 15-20 riders. I went to the front to try to up the pace but nobody else wanted to work which was unfortunate because the chase group was able to catch back up to us on the descent. On the third climb Michael was in a good position and looking strong. Near the end of the climb about 10 guys opened up a gap and were pushing hard for the finish. I saw that Michael was not in that group so I found him and told him to grab my wheel. I gave it everything I had for him for as long as I could, trying desperately to bridge the gap to the front group. I was able to deliver him about 100 meters short of them and as I exploded I yelled for him to give it one hard effort to catch them. When he jumped there was one guy on his wheel but the rest of the group was a good distance back. I was able to grind to the finish only getting passed by one other guy, taking 14th. Michael took 12th. I was so happy for him and he ended up moving up to 6th in the GC!
I was really, really looking forward to the crit. The course looked fun and I expected it to be fast too, which played to my strengths. I have been wanting to get on the podium and haven't quite been able to do it yet. Pre-race we chatted a bit with Kyle from TriSports, who was only 18 seconds off of 2nd place in the GC. I told Kyle I would be happy to do whatever I could to help him so he asked if I would try to work with him in a break, attacking after a prime when the pack was somewhat tired. I was excited to work with Kyle because he's a very strong racer and a super nice guy. If it turned out that the break didn't work Kyle said he would lead me out for the sprint. It was really cool to work together with another team. There were a total of 4 primes in the 30-minute crit and Kyle and I attacked after the second prime.
The attack worked very well and we opened up about a 10-second gap. Kyle's pulls were almost twice as long as mine which was necessary since his FTP is about 15% higher than mine. Super strong dude. I had trouble just sitting on his wheel to recover after my pull. After a lap or two a third racer bridged up to us and helped with a nice pull. He dropped off after another lap or two and then it was just Kyle and me again. During our break Kyle took a prime and then the forth prime bell rang. Halfway through that lap I took a look back and the group was gaining on us fast. I was so spent. We were caught with around 11 minutes to go in the race. It was a great opportunity and had a lot of potential, I just need to increase my power output a bit in order to be more of a help in that situation. I think our break lasted around 9 minutes.
Buzz sprinting for the line
I did my best after the pack caught us to recover, but my legs were really worn out and the pace was relentless. This was the fastest crit I'd ever done, averaging over 27 mph. I almost told Kyle to not worry about the lead-out and was going to just finish in the pack but he started looking for me in the group and the excitement of working with him overrode the pain in my legs. I took his wheel with 5 laps to go but ended up losing it after about a lap. He kept looking back to see if I was on him so I yelled at him to just stay where he was and I would get on his wheel when I could. I almost went down once, locking up my back wheel and going sideways when the guys in front of me braked through a corner. Luckily I kept it up and was able to maintain my spot in the group. With one lap to go I was able to maneuver my way back on to Kyle's wheel and shouted at him that I was there. As soon as he knew I was on his wheel he cranked it and we went from about 10 back to the front of the group with 2 corners to go. Kyle's speed was blistering and I was pushing as hard as I could to hold his wheel. He stretched the group out single file giving me a great lead-out. We went through the final corner and he faded and dropped me off about 250 meters from the finish. Two guys went around me and I jumped to sprint. My legs were so spent I had no power left but I was able to snag 4th, just a half wheel shy of getting on the podium. It was a great race and I was so thankful for the sacrifice Kyle made for me.
Buzz takes 4th in the crit