Here we go, here we go, here we go!!!!!!!!!!!
The Benton Park race is one I love to hate. I love it because it's a great a course for me. It's around 2 miles long and has 10 corners, great for guys like Shadd and I who can really drive a bike. I hate it because I've never had a good race on this course. The course isn't the problem, it's the fact that it's the last race of the weekend and I'm always tired. But after the crash fest at the Giro yesterday I actually had a day off. My Garmin showed that I was in the race for 45 minutes before I got pulled. After the crashes I was just rolling around in a small group, spinning the legs, and waiting to get pulled. In my head I knew the race was over for me and I needed to save myself for Benton Park. That night I knew that I was going to go into the last race more rested than I've ever been. Motivation was even higher because I also knew that this was probably going to be my last race in a Mercy Cycling kit.
The race day started off right when we got a prime parking position for the white whale and Trek trailer. There was no chance of rain so the carbon wheels came out for the first time all weekend and soon we were ready to race. As a team we had 2 guys in the top 10 overall and we really wanted to maintain those positions. Of course winning the race would work as well! At the team meeting before the race we knew that a break would probably determine the winner. Our plan was to make sure we were represented in every break until one got away. If it did come down to a group sprint we would go with the same plan as the past few days and set up a lead out train.
The race begins and the pace is hot, Jelly Belly and Kenda are sending guys up the road left and right trying to spring a break. As the laps go on a lead group slowly starts to pull away, but the group continued to get bigger until the field finally decided to pull them back. Mercy cycling had good representation in the first break and as soon as it got caught another break went. This time there were only 6 riders and Colton was in there for Mercy. The break quickly got a minute gap and Adam and I were on the front of the field slowing the pace. While we were trying to slow things down riders were constantly attacking the field and trying to get away. Eventually another break formed between the first break and the field. This time Nick was in there with 3 other riders and it was time to get to work again.
As we got near to the end of the race we were looking pretty good. A rider in each breakaway and Zach and Shadd for the field sprint. With a few laps to go we started to get our lead out guys together at the front of the field when I saw a Mercy jersey coming back to the field. Nick had put out a huge effort to make the break and with just a few laps remaining he got popped off when the attacks started. With 2 laps to go we were pretty well set up for the lead out when a rider decided to attack. I jumped on his wheel and the rider quickly became the first rider in the lead out train. As we hit the finish line hill I jumped past the rider and led for the next quarter of a lap. Next Austin was up and led until the half lap to go point where Shadd took over. With Zach on his wheel Shadd led right up until the sprint started. In the sprint Colton was 4th, Zach was 20th, and Shadd was 23rd. Another great effort from the whole team.
In the final omnium results Zach ended up 6th, Shadd 12th, and Colton 14th. The thing that impressed me the most was how each rider contributed and did their job. We have riders that are better suited for stage races but this weekend the criterium is king so the sprinters rule. It was all in all weekend for our sprinters and 6th overall and best amateur shows we did our job.
What a way to end the road season!