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2016-01-30 Cal Aggie Race Reports

By John Novikoff:
This race marks the season opener for us. Excitement was in the air as the weather cleared, temps were perfect, course was dry and we were racing together with familiar faces on our new squad. We talked initially about the usual suspects in the group, the tactics for the day, but things were pretty relaxed as we are all competent tacticians and can communicate. We initially didn’t think breaks were going to form as the group has 99% of the time stayed together on this course so we thought cool heads would prevail.

The whistle blew and there were our crisp clean looking kits on the front, with numbers just hanging out. Strangely I saw Dan Martin wind it up on the outside on the first lap. I thought two things, he was either trying to draw out some of us to wear us down, or lapping the field coming off his world championships, so I carried a bit of momentum and got on his wheel. He wasn’t riding breakaway light’s out speed, just putting some power down. Either way, it wasn’t costing me much to sit there, so I did. I had no intentions of contributing when a thirsty bear guy rolled up and joined us, so it shut down quickly as the rest of he field was fresh. It was lap one for Pete’s sake.

Michael Claudio was intent on getting some fireworks started. He rolled to the front and pulled an entire lap at speed. He had the peleton strung out pretty well. He is riding real strong. I thought breaks might be the call of the day as there may be varying levels of fitness due to the weather patterns over the past couple months and that happened to be right. Once some attacks had settled, we had a rough crash where forks and wheels went flying past other riders. Looked like someone threw a frag grenade in the group. A few got caught up and our own Brian Brown was involved. Nothing too serious as he was back in the race quickly after the race was suspended for 20 minutes for emergency vehicles. Thoughts are with everyone especially the Chico guy who took a hard fall.

Once the race was back on it was attack city. The pace was hot the rest of the race. I saw Michael Claudio up towards the front with about 8-10 guys and it appeared to be another from our team. Brian Brown and I met each other at the front and I said, that we had two up the road in what was about to be a solid break so lets block. We slowed the pace and the break was established. Guys accelerated around us after a bit and as I looked at wheels thinking the break would get caught, I realized that the break did form and was going to stick. I did not see the other Folsom guy up there anymore but wasn’t going to risk the bridge up and take the group with me. Just then, a Rio guy hit the gas with the intention of making the break so I followed. He gave me a free ride up to the group. Just as we were about to get on, Mike Sayers crashed off the back of the break. He was up quickly, and seemed okay. Finally I get on, and have zero time to take a breath when Dan Bryant and a Thirsty Bear rider attacked the break. I was in a bad spot to cover. I moved around and saw a Chico guy attempt to close the gap by stringing us out for a little bit. With Dan Martin and another Thirsty Bear rider on his wheel, I knew the chase was doomed once he was out of gas. I KNEW that was the winning move off the front and when Chico let up, I drilled it. I was closing for a lap and was oh so close and thought I would get them in the chicane, but it didn’t happen. After almost a lap, I could only keep pace with the two and not close anymore distance. With 2 laps to go, I was still in no-mans land and thought I might be able to solo for 3rd since it seemed I had a good gap on the break. I started to wear a bit and was eventually caught with 1 to go by the break. I stayed near the front of the group and Michael saw I had returned, got next to me on the back side, and brought us right to the front. He drilled it hard and took us into the final corner 1,2. I started to sprint and thought maybe I might make this, but was cooked. I had nothing left. I tried pedaling, but the effort from the 3 laps hit me hard. I have no clue where we finished and will check results later.

This was a tough race tactically. Besides it not sticking together for us to play our usual leadout antics, the race was highly animated. Getting a free ride to the break, I saw our guys all over the front blocking and nullifying the field, it was awesome. Making the move to bridge the attack from the break was the winning move, I just didn’t close it. Had one other attacked with me, or if I had made connection, things may have been different. I am disappointed I didn’t make the bridge, but hey, I held pace with Dan Bryant and some other guy who rode Dan off his wheel to win just in front of me for a couple laps.

We showed our presence as a strong team. We communicated well and played into the developments. I am so stoked for what the season holds for us. Big Props to Steve and Jim for driving over the hill. Well done gentlemen!

By Ric Reinhardt

Felt sharp in the new kit, shoes and helmet. The Trek is wicked fast. Best bike I’ve ever ridden.

E3 – We were aggressive with several attacks. Was a good start to learning to work together. I got in a break with another guy and a junior that looked to be 14-15. Was great to have him with us. We stayed off for a bit, but not enough efforts to bridge by others to make it worthwhile. I was in good position going into the first shikane but several sketchy moves by others made me hesitate. I’ve been down hard, I don’t want to go through that again. Finished 11th.

35+ – This was back to back with the E3. Sucked air out the gate and held onto the tail. According in and out of every turn. Pace was blistering in the beginning. It’s a great deal of effort to work up to the front from 50th. I loved how our team communicated. Everyone stayed in touch and grouped together in 2s and 3s. There was a nasty crash. A bike with a separated wheel flew about 10 ft in the air. A few went down, including Brian B. He got lucky with only minor scrapes. After the restart there was a break with big numbers. I figured it was over. We were represented, so rotated up front to influence the pace. I didn’t hear how Claudio finished, but John put it out there, but couldn’t bridge to the lead break.

I had a really good time today. I loved the communication and strength of the squads. Proud to represent.

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