Jul 7, 2009

Fitchburg Criterium

The last stage of the Fitchburg Classic was the downtown criterium. Larry's Dad won this the second year it was held, when the classic was a one day event.

Our race was pretty much guaranteed to come down to a field sprint. Cat 4's rarely break away and now we had an overall leader and sprint leader with incentive to keep the race together. The course was long and narrow. The finishing stretch was uphill with a nasty headwind and the backstretch was fast. Corner one was a slow U turn while two and three were fast, bumpy 90 degree-ers.

I started out at the front with the intention of having a clear line and staying out of any crashes. After a few laps of battling for the 15th wheel in the race, I dropped back a bit more to around 40, where everyone was content with their position. A points sprints were announced and I was content to sit in, working hard but never really hurting.

On the second to last points sprint, with something like 12 to go, the pace really kicked up. A bunch of guys in the middle were fading fast, probably more from the accumulation of four days of racing than the actual pace. I jumped across a few gaps and got back up to the front, where I knew everyone could handle the pace. By five to go enough people had stopped pulling that I found myself second wheel, which was nice in the corners but I was catching a bit too much wind. I dropped back a little bit and let others take over.

With two to go, people started really working to get to the front. I'd follow fast wheels when I could, but people got pretty aggressive. On the second to last corner of the race, some guy flew up the inside of the group, dove into the corner and crashed into the opposite curb. I was sitting about 8 wheels back and narrowly missed him. Coming out of the last corner, I started to pass people when some guy comes powering up my right side. I grabbed his wheel and held on for dear life. He pulled me all the way to the front of the race and I held on for third place, a podium place and some lunch money.

The stage race was a lot of fun. All four races were fun in their own way and came together for a really interesting weekend. Larry and I pulled it together for some smart racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday after our mediocre TTing on Thursday. The only thing I didn't really enjoy was sitting around a hotel room for five days waiting to race. I'm not sure how the pros do it, but I guess their races are a little harder than ours.

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