Following up on James Laberge’s 2014 USA Cycling U23 National Criterium Championship, we’re thrilled to announce that Dana Williams, Achieve Head Coach and Owner, claimed the 2015 USA Cycling Masters National Criterium Championship. Congratulations!! Below is his pre race plan (sent to his teammates the day before the race) and post race report.
Scott, Scott & Luiggi (Dana’s teammates),
Great racing today and I’m looking forward to racing with you tomorrow. Further to my earlier email, I think there’s a high chance it will come down to a bunch sprint. It’s because there are six teams with at least three riders, and at least one of these three riders are ‘players’ (represented with a P below) in this field. Here’s the team representation:
Team Mikes Bikes : 4 (Coach Dana’s team)
Surf City: 4 – Charon Smith (p), Greg Romero, Patric Box, Rob Kianpilla
Spy Giant: 3 – Phil Tintsman (p), Paul Vaccari, Karl Bodine (p)
Arts: 3 – Matthew Carino (p), Jacob Albrecht (p), John Olsen
Thirsty Bear: 3 – Jan Weissenburger (p), Corey Scobie, Jason Grefrath
Specialized: 3 – Jeremy Cottel (p), Michael Buckley (p) and Josh Dapice
Monster Media: 2 – Chris DeMarchi (p) and Mike Easter (p)
US Military: 2 – Scott Giles (p) and William Obrien
Velo Pasadeno: 1 Rudy Napolitano (p)
Matt Bole (p): 2nd and today’s RR plus strong consistent crit finishes
Matthew Gates (p): 1st in Wednesday’s TT
So in order for a break to go away and stay, it’s going to need at least a rider from 3 or 4 of those top six teams. The one way a break may stay away and not have all this representation is if three or four of the strongest guys are in the break and they are driving it. This would be Karl Bodine, Phil Tintsman, Matthew Carino, Jacob Albrecht, Jan W, Cottel, Buckley, Napolitano, Giles, Gates and Bole. As you can see, there’s a lot of combinations, so the chances are slim.
I have a feeling the Surf City guys are going to be working for it come down to a bunch sprint for their guy Charon Smith. That’s his strength and they will be aggressive from the beginning to tire guys out or marking moves and sitting on.
Phil Tintsman and Karl Bodine of Spy Giant aren’t pure sprinter but instead fit guys who can roll a break. They race weekly with Charon Smith. Therefore, if you get in a break with either of them then I’m pretty sure they will want to drive it to keep Charon out of the picture. This will be the same with Carino and his Arts guys.
Jan is a smart rider and he will be looking to make decisive moves. Like Districts, I bet he’s not going to be afraid to get up the road on his own and hope some strong guys bridge up to him. That said, if it comes down to the field sprint then he’s good a surfing wheels and can finish with a strong sprint…plus he’s not afraid to bump and grind.
As for Specialized, it sounds like Buckley and Cottel were attacking quite a bit today to keep it together for Josh on the finish climb. And it worked to perfection. That said, they may have burnt some matches and put some sting in of their legs. Therefore, they may be content to sit in for the first half, with Josh marking moves and driving it a bit, but ultimately not if Cottel or Buckley aren’t in the break. Cottel and Buckley will look to be aggressive the last 3rd and see if they can get in a select group. Cottel is their sprinter and is also a smart rider and good bike handler.
Napolitano is a former pro and National Champion. He has an engine and can TT. I rode with him in Italy in June during the week I was there with other Achieve athletes on the InGamba trip. This flat course is good for him and his strengths. That said, because it’s pretty wide open and fast, it will be tough for him to stay away solo at 28-30 mph. But if he has like a Giles, Carino, Gates, Tintsman, and Bodine then there’s a chance.
All that said, there’s lots of options. Our best play is to stay relaxed and race our bikes like we know how. We race in arguably the strongest district in the US so we can do this. Don’t set any expectations for yourself or get too fired up. It’s another bike race and you just need to race with your legs and head.
I’d like to have you three marking early moves. You don’t have to always be the first to go, but if the moves comes from close to you then go for it. Please don’t mark moves from the front of the field. Be 5-10 riders back and on the outside so you can react and go with riders. The quicker you can jump on somebody’s wheel, the better for you because you don’t have to extend so much energy to close the gap. Pay attention to who are in the moves. If you don’t know the riders mentioned above then show up the line early and look at jerseys and colors and ask one of us for help pointing them out.
If it comes down to a bunch sprint then let’s come to the front with 5 to go and begin talking to each other. With two to go, I would like Bromstead and Luiggi to try to set tempo on the front, with Cox and me behind. RIDE AND CONTROL THE INSIDE LINE. Again, this is a high tempo, not an all out effort. We may be allowed to take control. If so then Bromstead and Luiggi need to have juice left for the last lap so it doesn’t make sense to kill yourself on this lap. If guys start flying by then we hop on wheels and try to stay together. On the bell lap, Bromstead takes us over the line and let’s Luiggi slide by on the uphill before turn 1, then slots back behind him. Luiggi takes us down the hill after turn 1, through turn 2 and to turn 3. He pulls off to the left at turn 3 and Bromstead takes over, moving across the street to the right side to control the inside line. Ideally Bromstead gets us through turn 4 and 5 and then Cox takes over between 5 & 6. Cox takes it through turn 6 & 7 and to turn 8, with me going before turn 8 or just after.
That’s what I have for now. Think it over and let’s discuss more tomorrow before the race. This isn’t set in stone so I’m happy to adjust if anybody feels it’s needed.
Event: 2015 USA Cycling National Criterium Championship: 40-44 yrs old
Date: Sept 12, 2015
Location: Ogden, UT
Teammates: Scott Bromstead, Luiggi Zuniga and Scott Cox
Objective: Leave Ogden with Stars & Stripes jersey!
The Course: An 8 turn T-shaped (http://ridewithgps.com/routes/4216612) course with only one rise; a 50m 4-5% ramp (25th St) leading into turn 1. The same length decline from turn 1 to 2 (Ogden Ave). Otherwise pancake flat with consistently good pavement. Very little wind during the race.
Background Note: This was my fourth try at USA Cycling Masters Nationals. I took last year off due to family priorities but competed the three previous years in Bend, Oregon. Luck is a factor of success! It’s not simply the rider with the highest FTP that wins. Luck had not been on my side up to this point. The first two years in Bend saw the rider directly in front of me over cook a turn and slide out, resulting in me T-boning him and crashing. I finished 13th the first year but DNF’s the second year after the incident mentioned above actually happened twice. The third year saw a riders handle bars get stuck in my rear tire in the middle of a turn with eight laps to go, breaking spokes and shearing through my frame. A neutral bike allowed me to finish 4th, which is still a great result, but I wonder what could have been without the incident. That said, it could have easily gone one of two directions; better or worse. That’s racing. But I was very happy to have teammates this year, the first time in all my attempts at a national championship.
Now thinking back, all four of us TMB riders seemed pretty calm as we went through our warm-up routine. We did a great job getting to the staging area first so that we’d start at the front of the pack. I wasn’t that nervous and was focusing on my pre race routine. With many years of racing experience and being a coach, it wouldn’t be right if I deviated from what I’ve found to work best and preach everyday to those athletes I coach. I’ve come to realize that luck is definitely a factor in winning any race, let alone the national championship, as illustrated in my background note above.
The start gun echoed through the valley and we were off. It’s no surprise the pace was hot from the start, due to the fact that other teams wanted to make sure they were represented in any breaks…or force one with representation to put pressure on their competitors. Scott B and Luiggi were doing a great job. The first real break I believe went at around 15 mins into the race. The good news was that teammate Scott Cox was in it. And he had good company, including two major strongmen and contenders, Rudy Napolitano and Karl Bordine. I’m not sure the two other but I believe one was a teammate of Matthew Gates, TT champion just three days prior. One strong team that wasn’t represented was Surf City, that of #1 ranked rider in this race, Charon Smith. This became evident as they would come together at the front and go to work on the gap, even Charon taking his turn from time to time. This is because the gap was growing. With around 25mins to race, I recall the announcer saying the gap was at 28secs. It had been this for a few laps and at that time I thought to myself, and believed, they were going to stay away. I had come to win but it occurred to me that luck may again not be on my side. On the positive side, a strong teammate was up the road and had a good chance of winning. And I couldn’t think of a more selfless guy who deserved it.
Fast forward to about 10 laps to go, after Surf City and a number of other solo riders kept the pace high, and the gap was down to 15secs. Then to my somewhat surprise, it was all back together with around eight laps to go. Game on again! Attacks began to come every few turns. We (TMB) were doing a good job of making sure we were represented. A solid break got up the road with around five laps to go. Teammate Scott Bromstead was in it. Again I thought to myself, maybe it’s not my time. But 2014 USA Cycling Masters Road Race Champion and NorCal strongman, Scott Giles, who also missed it, went to work and almost single handedly brought it back. I say this because you’ll see the footage on my GoPro video, as I got an ‘arm chair’ ride in his slipstream. Gruppo Compacto!
Ding…ding…ding….the bell rang, signifying one lap to go, as I rode over the start/finish line glued to Rudy Napolitano’s wheel. Let’s just say ‘it was the calm before the storm’, or ‘the gates were about to open and the bulls were about to charge’. I was on the far right side. Rudy slowed and looked over his left shoulder, as did I, both of us not wanting to let others get a free ride in our draft and anticipating a move up the left. Teammate Scott Cox accelerated by with Monster Media’s Chris Demarchi on his wheel. I hopped on and we went up the hill and turned right through turn one. Knowing I needed Scott out there as long as I could, and also sensing everybody was pretty happy to sit on for at least another few turns, I yelled to Scott “You’re good….take it easy.” To say that Demarchi didn’t agree with this was an understatement. 🙂 And he let Scott know his feelings through turn two and three. As I went through turn two, I heard the terrible sound of carbon fiber scraping on the pavement behind me. I quickly looked over my shoulder and saw a few guys had gone down. But it didn’t slow down the impetus of the group much. Fortunately teammate Scott B just managed to make it through without crashing, but not without some mad bike handling skills. Check him skidding sideways at 37secs in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52WAJWJ3t-Q (I know the title of the video states it was on the 2nd to last lap. I thought it was the last one, but could have been two to go).
Back to the front and Scott C kept the pace up going towards turn four. Demarchi likely sensed a possible swarm (a good call at this point) and decided it was his turn to take over. He accelerated by Scott halfway between turn three and four. As we set up for turn four, I glanced over my right/inside shoulder and saw that Scott B was there (I didn’t know he almost crashed at turn two until I saw the video after the race). My initial instinct was to try to let him come by and slot behind Demarchi. But it was just a thought and the pace was too fast and we were too close to the finish. I went through turn five and again looked over my right shoulder to see what was going on. This is where you could say a critical moment occurred in ‘How the Race Was Won’. A gap had formed between Scott B and I. He had eased off slightly through the turn. I took a second look to make sure this was the case. And sure enough it was. My next instinct told me ‘It’s time to GO!’ I shifted down two gears, stood up out of the saddle and sprinted by Demarchi. I was all in now and knew I had to go my hardest and hope I could last to the finish. I went through turn six and it was just a short distance to turn seven. Between turn seven and eight was close to 100 meters. As I sprinted here, I knew I had to go as if the finish line was at turn eight. This is the first time when it dawned on me that I may finally be a national champion. I went through turn eight and still could not sense any other riders. I didn’t look back and continued to sprint to the finish line. At about 20m to go, I realized I was going to win and had time to raise my hands in victory as I rolled across the line. It was a great feeling, one I’ll remember for the rest of my life. It was caught on video as seen here: https://twitter.com/usacycling/status/642862376543383552/video/1. It was unfortunate to find out after the race that a few main contenders (Rudy Napolitano and Charon Smith) went down on the second to last turn of the last lap in pursuit of me. I’m glad it was only road rash and that we will no doubt battle it out again in the future.