The above photo pretty much sums up the day for Marc Pro - Strava. We showed up with 9 riders and the presence of some big name sprinters like Bahati and Holloway meant that we were hyper-aggressive throughout the whole race. Unfortunately this did mean that a lot of us were using a lot of matches early, myself included. We really didn't want to be on the back foot for this race, chasing at Snelling is usually a sure way of loosing Snelling. Luckily that never came to pass, we were always well represented in the moves and some of the groups that almost went early had really good representation from us.
However, it took a long time for the group to go. It finally went half way through lap five of six. I saw it going and realized that it was about 15 riders and we only had Teeter in the front. I picked my way up the side of the field with speed and launched across pretty quickly. I was hoping that the field would respond, the group would get shut down like every other attack up to that point and we could reshuffle. Unfortunately, everyone was pretty tired at this point, and I was the last one to come across. Suddenly we had two non-sprinters out of 15-20 riders which included some fast finishers and all around strong people like Ben Jaques-Mayes (Jamis) and Kirk Carlsen (Jelly Belly). Teeter and I were desperately trying to shut the move down by getting in the way and generally not working. There were just enough riders with team mates that the group continued to pull away from the field. Teeter also confessed that he was cramping, so I knew the race was pretty much down to me.
A few miles before the end of the lap, Colin Daw (Mike's Bikes) and Adrien Costa (Hagens Bergman) attacked. I sensed an opportunity to get a better group formed and bridged across solo. They were moving fast and it took a big effort though. By the time I got there and felt rested enough to pull, another group with BJM, Kirk, Tyler Brandt (Stage 17), and Chris Riekert (Mike's) also bridged. With BJM and two Mike's guys I really could't think of a way to win, so I continued to do as little work as possible. However in short order, the Mike's guys started taking BJM off the back and an attack from Costa and Kirk sealed the deal. Chris and Ben were gone and suddenly I had a chance. We rolled through pretty well for the rest of the race.
I was planning my attack to go for the win, but with about 2km to go I rolled through and realized no one was on my wheel. I took that tiny gap and just put my head down and went for it. It was a bit earlier than I wanted, but when you get the chance you have to just go. I pulled out a decent advantage of a few seconds, but I was hurting from all of my efforts at the start of the race. I didn't quite have enough power to hold it and Kirk flew past me right before the last turn at 400m to go. He didn't pull away, but I couldn't close the gap either. So he won by a few seconds, you can see my bright Mavic helmet in the background.
I saw that Tyler was also coming up to me but my legs were done and I had very little left for a sprint. I still almost held him off, but he came past me about 20m before the line.
I was a bit disappointed not to win, but considering the effort I made early and how badly the race was going for us mid way through lap 5, I was happy with a podium.
Now if only there were some real hills.
Author and team member MAX JENKINS can be found on Twitter @ Max_jenkins.