It was a big weekend of racing this past weekend up in Winston Salem NC. On tap were a repeat of last years Winston Salem classic kicked up a notch. In it’s first year of the event, our Smart Stop team got pretty dusted in the crit, but Dan Patten and I went 1-2 in the Road Race.
However this year the Crit was bumped up to NCC/USA Crits and the Road Race was elevated to international status as a UCI 1.2 race in addition to being NRC. This meant that all the Pro teams were going to be in attendance.
Friday kicked off with a road race following the same course as the previous year’s. However last years race only completed 12 laps of the brutal 7.2 mile course (with only 9 finishers out of 150+ starters), this years edition did 15.
You can watch the entire thing here, but to get a jist of things the race was full gas for the first 2 hours. Astellas was well represented in nearly every move. Only after 2 hours of continuous attacking did a breakaway get off the front. Luckily Matt Green was in there for us and gave us a chance to take a break.
A few laps later, everyone had apparently rested up enough and the group really started splitting on the difficult Pilot View climb. I had just followed some small attacks and was gassed when the group went up the road (poor tactical choice on my part). Fortunately Brecht got up into the lead group going over the top of the climb. The large group had all the teams represented and the remaining field became groupetto. Matt dropped back after a hard day in the break and Brecht managed to hold on for 11th.
I rode off the front of the field because everyone was finished racing in the last lap and came in 24th.
The next day was the twilight crit in downtown Winston Salem.
The race last year was pretty easy to control and ride at the front…not the case this year. What would seem like a relatively open course that would be easy to move around was the course with one of the worst whip lash effects I’ve experienced all year, just watch the vide of the race:
There is literally no point in this race where the field isn’t strung out single file, I remember passing the big billboard some 100 meters after the finish line and still seeing guys coming out of the final corner nearly every lap.
With all the big teams sticking around from the UCI race the previous day, we knew it was going to be fast. I managed to get into an early move of 4 that was a little too early, we got chased down in short order. Thankfully Brecht got into a move right afterwards of 3 riders that built up a 20 second advantage fairly quickly. Thomas and I spent most the rest of the race covering and killing, the rest of the team being taken out in a large crash early in the race (go to 1:58 to see nearly the entire field getting pushed back into the race), and Ryan getting taken out by a 24 hr flu bug.
I got in some bad swarms and got shuffled back when UHC started chasing. Due to the tight nature of the course (and huge downhill headwind), they had a hard time bringing things back, however the break of 3 were in the cross hairs going into 1 to go. They actually got caught at the uphill on the backside of the crouse, that’s when Brecht attacked and provided us with the biggest victory of the year:This is a pretty big upset for us. I’d like to say that Brecht had a lot of help from us, but he had a phenomenal ride Saturday and timed his attack perfectly. The upset of UHC is a big deal, even if the like’s of Cycling Illustrated call it “Unhearalded”
It’s time to keep the momentum rolling as our team splits up to tackle Joe Martin and SpeedWeek. I’ll be doing Athens Twilight, which is definitely a bucket list race for me.