Big races, big name riders, big crowds and most notable BIG prize purse. These along with lots of corners is what Elk Grove is most known for.
The race starts off with a 4.5 mile time trial that includes 3 180's. The best thing to do is pedal hard and not hit your brakes. I didn't pedal hard enough and used to much break and finished some where near the back. I most likely wouldn't be contesting any field sprints for time bonuses the next few days so GC wasn't my really a concern.
The following day is the roadterium. It's called a road race, but with 26 corners every 9 mile lap in the village of Elk Grove, it's far from what you would consider a road race. The first lap was fast, real fast before the break of the day went up the road. We had our teammate Jim Stemper in the move of 3, which made for an easy ride the rest of the race. The teams that missed it would have to do all the chasing, and all the others would sit back and fight for the wheels behind the Jelly Belly, Bissell, and United trains. The break stayed out till the last lap and the pace immediately picked up as the trains started to set things up for the sprinters. I did my job of keeping the sprinters as close to the front as long as I could. We came up a bit short in leading our man out and our best finisher was 12th.
On Sunday is the longest criterium I've ever done, and maybe the longest there is. You think you are doing long criteriums at superweek which are 100km's. This bad boy is 115km's, or 72 miles. They sure want you to earn the paycheck. It's a 5 corner course, one of which is a 180. It started off pretty relaxed for a lap or two before the attacks started. Nothing serious got away or lasted to long. The longest was one solo Bissell rider who rode byself 15sec off for a while. A few laps before the half way point I jumped on a move going, but it was short lived and brought back a lap later. I attacked as it was getting caught and find myself alone for a lap before 5 guys bridged up. Bissell had two riders, Holloway and Latham, and they hit it hard. Our gap went up quickly as 5 of us rotated well with a Fly V rider sitting on. Within in 3 laps we had over 30 seconds. My thinking was that United would control the gap as Menzies was in yellow and a few guys in the break were closer then 20 seconds.
Soon however we were getting time gaps of 40 seconds, 50 seconds, a minute, and then we could actually see them as they were coming the other way before the 180. We had over a 1:30 gap and were only 25 seconds from the back of the peleton. At this time the Fly V rider had been sent back to help with the chase, as thier rider was looking for a time bonus to take the overall. We each took a hard pull trying to get closer for a lap or two, but it wasn't happening and the distance was starting to take it's toll. Soon we were down to 4 riders with less the 15 laps to go. Under 10 laps to go we still had a decent gap and much of United and Fly V guys were blown from the hard chase. Could we make it? Unfortunately there was one wild card in the race who could and decided to bring us back, Chris Horner of Radioshack. 3 laps later the race was back together and a field sprint would ensue. We tried to set up a train with 2 go, but soon were past and our guys ended up 8th and 9th.
Pictures credited to Lyne Lamoureux of Podium in Sight. By far the best website for all your domestic racing needs.
Next up for myself is the USPRO criterium championships in Glencoe, IL.