2010 Land Park Criterium

2010 Land Park Criterium
Sacramento, CA
3/21/10
Weather:
Teammates: Evan Pickett, Joel Robertson, Tim Granshaw
Placing: 1st of ~75

I just realized that my standard race report format ruins the punchline, as you
already know how the team fared. Unfortunately, I’m required to bore you with
the details anyway.

I wrote a report about the Land Park Criterium previously, and I described it
then as a “long, winding, undulating course punctuated by two sets of sharp
chicanes…some of the most fun cornering all year.” Barring any geological
disasters, that description ought to suffice for eternity, because this course
is perfect and will likely never be changed. I definitely enjoyed the hairpin
turn more than ever on my new Williams 58 tubulars. If you don’t have a pair,
you should get a pair*.

Most of the time, the wide roads of Land Park are swept by moderate winds, but
on Sunday the air was warm and eerily still. In spite of the warmth, Evan chose
to wear a long-sleeve skinsuit; not to be outdone, I donned my armwarmers as a
demonstration of my superior manhood.

The plan for the race, of course, was for everyone else to spend the day
attacking while I sat in the pack as the protected sprinter. It only makes
sense, really.

Everything went according to plan for about thirty seconds, at which point I
threw our team plan out the window and began attacking like an idiot. It’s the
first time, I swear.

In all seriousness, all four of us did a stellar job of covering moves, one
after the other. In particular, Evan “Pickles” Pickett rode like a rock star in
spite of the fact that he’s recovering from a debilitating hip injury, and I
KNOW he was overheating in his long-sleeve skinsuit.

Sadly, about 30 minutes into the 55-minute event, several riders went down in a
crash leading into the chicane. Chad Gerlach took the brunt of the impact to his
shoulder, and rumor has it that he broke his collarbone. The race was
neutralized for three laps while an ambulance took care of the fallen rider, and
I think I speak for everyone present when I say that I wish Chad a speedy
recovery.

As we rolled around, I turned to Tim and said, “Dude, I just don’t think
anything is gonna get away…guys aren’t letting gaps open.” With an air of
wisdom, Tim replied, “You never know, man.” True brilliance.

The race was restarted with thirty minutes remaining (yeah, I don’t know about
that math), and after one lap of semi-neutral riding, Max Polin (Some Team I
Didn’t Recognize) stepped the pace up. I took about ten hard pedal strokes to
latch onto his wheel, and I never saw the peloton again.

Somehow, a break of about eight riders (including me) had noodled off the front
of the race by about five seconds, and I hadn’t even noticed until Joe Ianarelli
(Clif Bar) rode by me and yelled, “Dude, it’s time to GO!”

Go we did.

We hit the gas REALLY hard with 27 minutes remaining; our gap increased to
fifteen seconds, while our break dwindled from eight riders to four. Max Polin,
Joe Ianarelli, Pete Knudsen (Wells Fargo?) and I each took even pulls and our
gap grew by about five seconds per lap. We were crushing it, and we knew it.

My teammates, apparently forgetting about my proclivity for botching finishes,
shut down any chase attempts. There’s nothing more confidence inspiring than
having capable teammates in the pack, but the only thing going through my mind
with three laps to go was how badly Joel would beat me after the race if I
f*&ked things up.

Not three months ago, Ianarelli won the Cal Aggie Crit on this very course, so I
decided to mark him; he’s well-known for a good sprint. Knudsen led through the
final turn, and Polin cramped both calves simultaneously as we entered the long,
arcing front stretch. This left Ianarelli and I to contest the sprint
head-to-head. Joe jumped early out of the corner, straight into my crosshairs.
Gotcha.

At this point, I’d like to point out that my decision to wear the armwarmers
provided extra sponsor logo placement on my upraised arms. Gotta pay the bills,
yo.

Thanks again to my teammates for trusting that, somewhere deep inside, I had
what it takes to win a race. Evan, Joel, and Tim are the reason my break stuck,
and I owe the victory to them.

*Taken out of context, this statement holds true, by the way.

Letter Grades:

Finish: B (I should have soloed to victory. Break of 4? Amateur!)
Tactics: F (I did nothing tactical. I think I got lucky.)
Style: C (Flecha has a an arrow, Contador a pistol, and all I’ve got is two
hands in the air. I gotta get a better salute. Suggestions?)
Teamwork: A+ (Joel helped us win even more than he did last year.)

Overall: B (Joel didn’t flog me post-race, and I won a cutting board.)

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