This was my first road race of the season, but heading into it I felt pretty good. My training has been going well, even though it's been raining forever, which has put me on my trainer during the week. But I can tell I'm getting stronger because my trainer workouts have been getting better and I'm holding my power longer on group rides.
With that said not knowing the course I didn't really know what to expect other than what I had heard from a few people. I knew it was 56.6 miles long and had some climbing (some very steep but short climbs and one longer climb where the race finished). I had heard it was a hard course to get a breakaway going, but could see a couple of places where one could be done if the conditions were right.
Looking at the course profile I was a little concerned about the main hill and finish since I'm not a climber and it was an uphill finish. As it turned out most of the climb wasn't that bad, but there were a few sections that pitched up past 6% which is beyond my "Anchor" point...I.E. where I struggle at...Generally anything over 4% - 5% grades.
The race was what I would call On/Off...It was attack after attack, but nobody followed through with their attacks. So it was full on, then full off for most of the race...Kind of annoying and it kept the field together for most of the race.
On the end of the second lap (of three) a guy just kind of drifted off the front. I'm not sure if it was an attack or he just went a little hard and found himself out by himself but once he had a gap...he looked like he picked up the pace and turned it into an attack (if it wasn't). As we started the 3rd lap another guy jumped (not long after the first guy took off) and soloed his way to the lead racer.
The two of them built up a lead of around 2 minutes or more and the field wasn't chasing them hard...of course, they had multiple teammates in the race and were effectively blocking the field by disrupting any chase that was started and had good control over the pack which allowed the lead riders to stay away.
With a bit over 7 miles to go a few guys had jumped and had a small gap on the field. It looked like a good group so I jumped to catch them. As I caught them...they gave up and drifted back to the pack.
I looked back and nobody was chasing so I decided push the pace and see if I could get away knowing if I didn't I was toast on the final climb since I was "Pack Sliding" each time up the steepest pitches. This was a great place for me to go because it was fairly flat and had a bit of a cross wind, which I love when racing. After about 1.5 miles of cross wind the course turned right and headed into a headwind for the next 2.5 miles before the final climb, which again I think helped keep the field at bay until the final climb.
For a short period of time it looked like they started to chase, but it was quickly shut down again...partially by the teammates of those in the front as well as by my teammates. If a chase was going to organize it would have had to have been done by some of the smaller teams or independent riders.
After a few minutes on my own I had separated myself from the pack by a fair distance and I could see I was making up time on the two guys in front. By the time I hit the final climb I was about 10-15 meters away from catching them and once the climb leveled out a bit I was able to catch them and work with them on the final climb.
With about 2.5k - 3k to go the official told us we had 47 seconds on the field. At that point I think we all felt fairly confident we could hold them off which meant the finish would be between the three of us for the win.
Going into the final steep pitch before the last 200 meters where the road leveled off a little...the effort put into catching them...caught up to me. I didn't have much left at that point. That part of the climb started at 9%, then dropped to 6% and stayed there until we crested the steep incline. During the start of this steep pitch The other two put a few meters on me and with nothing in the legs to accelerate, they kept it to the top where it leveled off a little.
At this point I started looking behind me to see where the field was.
Looking back and looking forward I decided...3rd was good enough at this point. I could try and sprint to make it close and still take 3rd or cruise in for 3rd...I chose to cruise at that point finishing 3rd on the day.
This was my best ever climbing finish, so I was pretty happy about that, but it wouldn't have happened without my teammates helping control the pack as I broke away and caught the break.
Some numbers from todays race:
Total time of race: 2:26:42
Average watts: 236 (NP 308 watts...all the accelerations)
Max watts: 1294
Average speed: 22.6 mph
During the chase/break away I averaged 25.1 mph into a cross/headwind and the last 20 minutes of the race averaged 325 watts. Needless to say...I really like my new Corsa Concept wheels