This weekend is a major objective for our 7up/Maxxis team as we have the defending champ Kevin Monohan. I must admit I struggled screwing my head back on after the World Champs but realised that I was being selfish to my team if I didn't do the work needed. Just because I had achieved what I wanted to do this season....some of my teammates that I race with all year have set there focus on this weekend. So I knuckled down and did some good solid training so I would be useful when I was needed to help out at the end of the race.
On the Saturday night there was a warmup race over the same circuit that the Champs would be held on. It was also half distance of 1hr. I was pretty motivated to have a good ride here becasue I hadn't really raced for a month now and was keen to see how the legs would stand up to the fast racing of Crit racing. I lined up on the line with 189 other guys...huge field for a crit. The race was pretty non eventful other than the first lap for me. Coming into the last corner they had crash barriers but they had them sticking out into the course....so what did I do??? I ran straight into them at 55kph...ouch. Somehow I managed to stay upright. I jammed my brakes on and my back wheel flew into the air as I smashed into them....then somehow I landed it and made it around the corner. Nice intro to Yanky racing I thought to myself. I had to race the rest of the race with crooked handle bars....haha...what a dork! From there on to the end I rode good position and then with like 6 laps to go the boys got on the front for me. We were flying over the last few laps and I was ready for the sprint. With about 2 miles to go we lost control of the front so I was on my own....then somehow I hooked up with Kevin who took me up the front straight with one lap to go and moved me up from 8th to about 5th. Then I moved up a little further and Dan Schmatz took me down the back and we held position nicely. With two turns to go I got gapped and had to chase up to the leading 4 guys...got to them then had to start sprinting. I ended up 4th across the line so was pretty happy with that considering the mess up that I mixed in with about 500m to go. A good hit out for us and a good showing for tomorrow's race.
Sunday's race we were looking at setting up Kevin or Dan. We had all been assigned jobs for the day and as I had suspected, I was on call for the final 600m to get the boys to the line. I felt confident that I could do the distance and be useful for the final. The race was pretty aggressive from the start but nothing was sticking....Every move that did go up the road we made sure we put someone in it. For the first 50km I was dead last on the back of the bunch....pedalling as small of a gear as possible to try save my legs for the final kick.
At about 30/62 laps to go I started my long trek to the front. It took me about 6 or 7 laps to get there and then I held position for the rest of the race. At about 15 to go every one realised that it was going to be a bunch sprint so all the teams started setting up their sprinters for the final.
We hit the front with Hayden, Jon and Oscar at about 4 or 5 to go then we lost Oscar straight away. That left Hayden and Jon to try do 3 laps/miles at 55+kmph. Too far to go! I was screaming in the earpiece to get more guys up here to help cos I was pinned at third wheel and knew I was going to have to hit out far too early. Sure enough with 2 1/2laps to go we lost Hayden after his last pull then half a lap later we lost Jon. Panic stations cos I had Kevin on my wheel and I was on the front. Next thing a Navigators rider came past me so I jumped on his wheel and he gave me half a lap then I had to go or we would have been swamped and Kevin would have bad position. I hit out flat stick for nearly a lap and pulled the pin at just under a lap to go...Kevin had good position so we just had to wait and see. I pulled off the course to watch the final....then coming around the last corner I saw the Green Jersey in 2nd wheel....perfect....then he went by it like it was standing still for the win...
Kevin Monohan and the 7up/Maxis team had just successfully defended the USPro Championship. Good day at the office for us.
Next up for me is some serious Km's so I can get fit for my last race of the year.... San Fran Grand Prix. I have got racing every weekend from now to then but will be using it all as training so am not too concerned with the results...although....when you have good form it gets harder to race bad.