SKCC Crit World Champs:
I've trained hard for this race, and tested a range of tactical scenarios. Basically all that was left to do today, was put it all together, and see what result it would achieve.
As a team, we felt DK was our best option to win, he's a one man leg destroyer, but in the case that he couldn't get up the road, Richie has a wicked kick and we'd try to put him into the sprint in pole position. My job was to keep those two out of the wind and as far forward in the over sized bunch as possible.
I spent the first half of the race finding my boys, moving them up the bunch, or slotting myself in front of them to take the wind for them. It wasn't too physically demanding, but the natural ebb and flow of such a large group meant it required a little bit of mental effort.
As we approached the time when I assumed a strong break would form, I went with a couple of attacks with the aim of giving DK a launching pad should they become the race winning move. They didn't, they were both brought back within a couple of laps. In fact, that was a trend, nothing was getting any leash. The most well represented teams all had lead blokes that suited a break, but the right combination never got together. It became obvious that it was going to come down to a sprint and that I had to get Richie sorted.
I positioned us inside the top 20, letting others push the air, and do the pace making. The other guys had used their legs up, so it looked to be just me and Rich, but in some ways that was reassuring as it is less to organise.
When the 3 laps to go board was held out, I found Lou nearby and asked him to move us up a bit, instructing him how far up the bunch I needed him to take us, and that we needed to do so on the outside of the bunch. Then I co-opted Lach, asking him to take me the next step of the way, while O2 kept driving it on the front.
Into the last lap, and O2 looked tired, I was delighted, they'd spent too many tickets, they were suffering! I'd been there, knew how horrible a place it was, mentally and physically, but now wasn't a time for mercy, it was a time for braaaaap. As we came out of turn 3 onto the back straight, I pulled out and hit it up the right. I was ripping through and feeling like a total boss. We were flying, it was better than last week, and despite it being further, I knew I had the effort perfectly pegged.
I was excited, I was arrogantly confident, and then I was shown the power of a fully operational Charter Mason sprint train. I forget the name of their lead out guy, but I distinctly recall the shock at how hard he accelerated on the left, up that back straight. I knew myself, and knew I couldn't match the power of his move, but I had to try.
I got to that final corner, and held a wide line so that Richie could come under me, and they in turn under him. I'd failed to get him there first, and I could only hope he could make his way through the 3-4 riders that had been on the back of that train. I'd given everything, but I felt like I'd come up short. I felt like I'd failed, and in doing so let down those that helped me, and
those that depended on me.
I know that's not a reasonable reaction, and that given time, I'll be proud of what I did, and what I was part of. I know that no one, but me, is disappointed in me. However, I put a lot of time into getting to that moment, in trying to make that moment something specific, and not achieving that, is... well... emotional.