Saturday’s State Road Race Championships was my first race with SoCalCycling.com / Craig Shelly Team and it turned out to be one for the books. Prior to the start, the team came up with a solid plan of how to tackle the days event. Our ideal situation was to have a rider in the early move which would allow the team to sit on and follow counter moves later in the race. This would give us the opportunity to have a free ride to the break, which hopefully contained one of our riders.
Collectively as a team, we all thought this would be the best case scenario and would yield our best hopes for a result. Well, when the race began we had a neutral roll out before the official start about a mile from staging. Once the race began, I was to first to jump and get the days racing going. Looking back I could tell that the field was more than content with let me go ,as I had 9k feet of climbing over 85 miles to contend with. I was quickly joined by 3 others and we formed close to a 4 minute lead by the turn around on lap 1.
Once we had the gap established, I know the break would only work if a Hincapie Sportswear Development Team rider was with us. I was able to see once we went through the turn around that a Hincapie rider was trying to bridge with 3 others. So as a group we slowed to wait for the chasers, and once they arrived it was game on. From that point I helped drive the break as I was looking for some fitness building in prep for Redlands and I wanted to stay away too.
The next 50 miles was pretty much standard, with everyone swapping pulls and working well. Once lap 3 started, the field had been destroyed and some smaller chase groups were coming across to the break. At that point a Hincapie rider attack on the second to last climb, with only a few riders who could follow. This was the major turning point in the race as it allowed the chasers to catch and reshuffle the front end of the race.
Going into the finish, the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team had 3 out of the 5 guys in the lead group and it was groups of 2-3 riders chasing, including myself. This eventually led to a 1,2,3 sweep by Hincapie and a fight for the last few money spots. The SoCalCycling.com / Craig Shelly Team rode great and showed they are ready for the upcoming Redlands Classic.