June 26th: IS Corp Downer Avenue Criterium
Mike 3rd, Ben 4th
Last night’s event in Downer Grove featured as the premier event of the Tour of America’s Dairyland. Over 5,000 spectators lined the 3 corner, cement paved course through the upscale strip of Downer’s Avenue north of Milwaukee’s business centre, with multiple beer gardens, a live bands and a set of announcers that kept the crowd well informed of the action. One hundred metres past the first corner, there was a second finish line for the ULTIMATE preme sprint (which race organizers fundraise for for an entire year – this year it was worth $5,000!). This big money brought in United Healthcare sprinters Karl Menzies and Hilton Clarke so it was great to get the chance to race against these guys again (they had a great run recently at Nature Valley and Air Force Cycling Classic).
From the gun, small moves went off the front. Taylor did a great job of holding on as the last rider to make the major break of the day, making the rest of our lives a lot easier. With a BMC rider and two UHC riders including Menzies, Taylor rolled through with the break but saved his energy the best he could. Halfway through the 90 minute event, the breakaway returned to the peloton after a maximum advantage of thirty seconds. At this point the preme sprints started as race officials looked to keep the pace high and the race exciting. With the help of Roman and Jason (as Taylor recovered in the pack), Mike and I were able to snag a large number of large dollar premes while opening our sprinting legs up for the Ultimate and the finale.
At 14 laps to go (approximately 14 minutes), the Ultimate bell was rung and UHC immediately jumped on the front. Roman took me to with them and through the start finish we sat 4-5 behind UHC. However a crafty move by UHC distanced myself from Menzies as he went around corner 1 and I had no chance at an attempt, besides, he is a legend so it was just sweet to be throwing down the watts in his presence.
With 3 laps to go we set up for the finale and UHC let us line up 1-4 while they sat 5-8. Jason Allen, our team leader, threw down huge watts and as we went through the start finish the final time the announcers and the crowd were going insane. If I had yelled any words of encouragement to Roman and Jason, they wouldn’t have heard me it was so loud. Out of corner 2 along the backstraight, UHC came thundering up the inside as anticipated. Mike followed them and I slotted in for sixth wheel. Through the final corner, one UHC rider pulled off with another at 150 metres. The drag to the line was highlighted by a spotlight next to the stage and finish banner as the evening had arrived and it was dark enough to ride without glasses. Mike fanned out left as Menzies went right. I moved in behind Clarke as he charged up the inside. In the end, Clarke took it at the line with Menzies 2nd and Mike 3rd. I rolled across in 4th. A great ride!
We were all super stoked on our efforts and enjoyed the party atmosphere during the podium presentations as many spectators were stoked on the efforts of the boys in Yellow.
Mike moved up the 4th in the Omnium after last night’s result and now sits only 2 points out of third. One more day in Waukesha before the long drive home to Portland. Time to get some!