The annual Burlingame Criterium is a race I’ve come to really enjoy. It’s where I got one of my first high ranking results in the Pro/1/2 category a few years ago. As well, the course’s nature and location, winding it way through downtown Burlingame, brings out a fair number of spectators and it’s close enough for my family to come watch and cheer me on. Last year our second boy was only a month old so my wife and oldest weren’t able to make it out. This year all three were standing at the start/finish line, ready to cheer on daddy.
The traditional course changed this year due to construction. The new course was much tighter and included a 180 turn: http://www.burlingamecriterium.com/athletes/course.html. Having raced quite a few courses with a 180 degree turn, I knew this would increase the intensity considerably.
My teammates included Travis Lyons, James Laberge, Brandon Trafton and Steve Pelaez. Our plan was to try to win a few premes, make sure at least one of us were represented in any breaks, and win the race, either from a break or bunch sprint. If it came down to a sprint then we’d lead out James for the win, I being his last leadout guy. The favourites for this race included James, Daniel Holloway, former teammate now riding for the Italian UCI Pro Contenintal team Amore e Vita, Tobin Ortenblad, formerly of Bear Development and recently recruited by CalGiant and Chuck Hutchison of Marc Pro Strava.
The race started and it wasn’t long before riders were strung out single file. Contributing factors to this included the 180 degree turn and guys wanting to get their legs warmed up to see who was feeling good. There were a few teams that were quite active the first half of the race including PrimeTime and Leopard-Sapporo. They launched guys consecutively off the front. These riders were brought back by team members of the race favourites mentioned above.
Daniel Holloway put in a very strong attack that would see him off the front for a few laps. This reminded me of a similar move he made at Cat’s Hill Classic at the beginning of May and ended up soloing to the win. In this circumstance, if he was still my teammate then I would have had no problem letting him go. But we were now against each other so I did what I could to keep the pace high and gap in check. Eventually he would come back to the main group.
At 10 laps to go the race looked as though it was going to come down to a bunch sprint. With only this many laps to go, I typically try to stay near the front. As I went around the 180 degree turn on the 8th to last lap, my teammate Brandon was right in front of me. I can’t remember if I looked over my shoulder and lost focus on what was ahead of me but the next thing I know I was sliding on the pavement on my right side. I had violated the #1 rule I preach to cyclist I coach; don’t cross your front wheel over the back wheel of the rider in front of you. As I came to a stop, I got up as quick as I could and moved to the outside of the course. Fortunately the riders behind me were able to get by and nobody else went down. I looked down at my bike to make sure there wasn’t any noticeable damage or anything that needed adjustment. My body felt fine and I didn’t see blood running from any major wounds. I was thinking ‘do I get a free lap because I crashed?’. I wasn’t sure of the answer so I hopped back on my bike and decided to try to chase back on. With a little help from a bunched up field (that I saw at the start/finish line as I chased) and the slowing caused by the 180 degree turn, I made it back to the front in two laps. I then continued ‘business as usual’.
If the race looked as though it was going to come down to a bunch sprint then my team’s plan was to take the lead with three laps to go. Travis followed by Brandon, then me with James on my wheel. And this is how things unfolded. At three laps to go the four of us went to the front. There was just one loan ClifBar rider up the road trying to stay away to the finish. We knew that if we kept a solid that we could bring him back.
As we crossed the start/finish line on the bell lap, Travis had done a big pull so he moved to the side and let Brandon go to work. Right around this time we brought back the solo ClifBar rider. Brandon lead us through the 180 degree turn and then into the next chicane. I was just about the accelerate past Brandon for the final lead out of James when Daniel darted by and opened up a decent gap. It was a good move by him. James was quick to react and sprinted by me in pursuit. There was no reason for me to just watch this so I too sprinted in pursuit. James was able to close the gap as we went into the last sweeping turn. I watched their sprint unfold in front of me. It was a drag race to the line, with Daniel just holding off James for the win. I was able to keep pace and came across the line in 3rd.
After further diagnosis of my bike and body, thankfully the crash caused only minor road rash and a few scrapes on my bike. Once again, the team did a great job of coming together and executing our plan. Until next race….