06 Aug Tour of Elk Grove Masters 35+ 1-2
I think this was the seventh year for the Tour of Elk Grove, the largest purse of the year for any race in the US. The promoters have been generous to the pro’s and all the category racers, which is nice of them. I have raced different races in Elk Grove over the seven years, always trying to race the charity TT on Friday evening. I did the 4.5 miles TT this year, always trying to beat my PR. If this was a real race I might focus on it, I might even train for it. This would be the first time riding my TT bike this season, laughter. It showed, riding my slowest time on this course in seven years, a 9:43, makes me kind of nauseous just typing that number, more laughter.
The Master’s crit was going to be good this year, though being held at 8:00 am, the old body was not happy about racing this early. It would have helped having a 1.5 hour warm up, instead of the 20 minutes I gave it. On paper the race will be tough, a small field packed with guys that like to actually race their bikes aggressivly. Guys like, Mike Heagney, Michael Zellmann, Nate Iden, Ryan White, Scott Pearson, Erik Tomlinson, and a visitor that finished on the 1-2 podium on Saturday, Emile Abraham.
The first lap I went to the front after the first 180 and hit the gas, trying to string out the first lap, warming my legs up a bit. Erik Tomlinson took over in the back section gaining a gap and creating the first small break. After 3 laps, Michael Zellmann (ScarletFire Racing) attacked and Ward Zauner (Enzo’s) goes with. The two gained about 25 seconds at one point and stayed out there about 5 laps worth, getting a little help from the Enzo’s blockers. They were looking good until Emile went to the front, setting a fast lap that brought the two back, this was a nice effort. Scott Pearson counters and Gene Tolli connects to Scott quickly. Perfect that we have another guy off the front. I like these two, knowing Gene has the edge in a sprint, and Scott is super strong. They stay out front for a number of laps though they never looked like a real threat. Funny how you can see this after a few laps, the group seemed to be toying with them. I was sitting in the back watching Emile when he attacks after the 180 bridging easily with me taking the free ride. This move clearly excites the pack and soon we are all back together, but there was no way I could allow someone to go up the road that could beat us. With two of us we would have a better chance.
With 5 laps to go they call a $50.00 prime with my name on it, so I attack going into the 180. I solo for the lap knowing the holes are blocking. I have the fitty in out pocket. Now Todd calls a $75.00 prime announcing they need to bring me back, thanks Todd. Little did the group know I was all just waiting for the late prime to be called. Staying away for the $75.00 the question is can I hold off the field for two more laps, if I can I may have the win. No dice, I see Scott Pearson bridging with one other and I ease off a little. They connect and the other guy goes to sit on me, either he is out of his really comfort zone or has know idea what he is doing. Scott goes to the front quickly giving me a short break. We have two laps to go as I take a pull after the 180. We get caught by the back stretch, now hoping I can recover in time for the planned lead out train.
About 500 meters from the finish with 1 lap to go, I am looking for David Jaggi, who is the first guy in the train, Ward is supposed to be next, then Enzo. Jaggi is perfect and I follow him to the front, but no Ward? I am not happy about this knowing the order is not correct. David executes perfectly dropping off after turn two, Nice work Dave. I take over and see Ward is now on my wheel, too late to change the order now. I keep the speed at 30, dropping off about 50 meters after the final corner. Ward has about 400 meters to pull as hard as he can. The idea is go fast enough so the guys in the middle of the pack are not thinking about advancing position while delivering our sprinter, Bob Karlow to the 200 meters sign. Ward does this but is not thinking about the wind, taking the line right up the middle of the road. This was an error which allowed the group the gain a draft from our efforts. Guess who exploits this, Emile the ex-pro, attacking up the side. Bob feels the pressure and has to go early, responding to the attack but the damage is done. Emile wins, Bob gets second, Heagney nailing third.
This was as close to a perfect lead out for the Enzo’s squad, and I am pleased with this result. I have said in the past that it is very difficult to nail the perfect lead out. Master’s racing lead outs are mostly non-existent, and Emile made comment after the race. He said it was totally cool to see a lead out in a master’s race, that it was almost perfect. Saying if we did this differently he would not have been able to advance, thank you captain obvious.
This was our best finish in Elk Grove and a good way to finish Ward’s racing in the Midwest. My teammate of 4 years is leaving for the Pacific northwest for good, later this week. Ward you will be missed, it was great racing road and CX with you. Now for the shameless plugs to the sponsors.
Psimet Custom Wheels, a special thanks to Rob Curtis for the Carbon tubular race wheels. We all have been able to go faster racing on these fast wheels sold at a huge value.
A.L.L. Masonry for the generous yearly support.
Lucky Brake bike shop and Giant Bikes for helping with the road bikes, I really like the way the TCR Advanced feels in races.
Next up is the 13th annual Winfield Criterium Weekend. This is one of Enzo’s favorite race weekends because both courses are difficult and make for great racing. Safe riding and racing.