Andrew Willis put on 3 races in 4 days in the Austin area which was great for all of us to get in some good speed-intensity work in!
On Thursday night, a decent Pro 1,2 field turned out to race at Driveway. Some notable absentees included Stefan Rothe, Chris Wherry and Heath Blackgrove, who were all racing at Redlands in California. Fireworks were on right from the start with a flurry of attacks going. I jumped with Austin strong-sprinter Phil Wikoff to establish the first breakaway of the race, we were joined by others but the field were not giving us a long leash! I counter-attacked once the field was back together and sprinted away with Bryan Fawley on my wheel. Several others also came, including Austinbikes Sol Frost and we formed a breakaway that stayed away for a couple of laps but then it fell apart when the bell went for the prime. I was wanting the break to work together so I did some hard smooth pulls in the lead up to the prime but no one was working. With 250metres to go, Bryan Fawley attacked and took the prime easily. I waited for the pack to catch up again and did a few more attacks but nothing stuck for me. When Dave Wenger (Super Squadra) and Pat McCarty (OUCH-Maxxis) counter-attacked, I did not have the legs to go with them as I was still recovering from my earlier efforts. So, all I could do was watch 7 riders form a nice breakaway, including Pat McCarty, Dave Wenger, John Korioth (Team Six) , Jordan Smothermon (Austinbikes) , Ian Dille (Super Squadra), Colt Trant (RBM) and Colton Jarisch (Velossimo). It was a bunch sprint for 8th place and going into the final lap, I did most of the work on the front and led-out Phil Wikoff (Super Squadra). I managed to recover quickly and take 3rd in the bunch sprint behind Wikoff and Will Ross (THJS) for 10th overall.
Belterra circuit race
This was a very challenging race with the two steep hills featured and a powerful head wind to contend with on the hill-climbs. About 65 riders started the race with less than 30 actually finishing. I was doing fine in the race till the 45th minute when someone in front of me popped and let wheels go. I was already in the hurt-box, so closing the gap was almost impossible and I found myself riding with Evan Lambert from Austinbikes. We worked together for several laps before he dropped back. I was determined to finish the race without being lapped by Wenger, McCarty and Trant. I kept riding at a good tempo and still feeling reasonably strong on the hills and finished the race just 10 seconds ahead of the winner! My position was 27th, not so good but its all good for training for the bigger races to come later this year.
Manda road race
It was a brilliant day, another cloudless blue sunny Austin day. Perfect for racing out in the Manda country-side. The field was a bit smaller, but still very competitive. About 40-50 riders for the Pro123 event started the 77 miler. We had 6 laps of a mostly flat to undulating circuit with a couple of shortish hills. Right from the gun, three riders including John Trujillo (GCCA) went up the road and established a good 90 second lead on the field. No-body seemed concerned about them for the time being. Going into the second lap, before the cross-wind sections, John Korioth attacked and I powered away with him to establish what was the race winning breakaway. Dan Opdyke (THJS) and Travis Burandt along with a couple of others bridged up in quick succession. It was a powerful break and we were pulling away from the main bunch quite rapidly. I was red-lining and was struggling to jump back on the echelon as the last rider came through. After a couple of minutes I turned around and saw Jordan Smothermon bridging up so I let him come around me but I did not have the legs to jump back on so I drifted back to the bunch. Dave Wenger and Pat McCarty were working hard on the front to try and bring the break back, so I jumped up to the front to help them for a bit. We had the break within 30 seconds, but Wenger and McCarty decided to stop working and let the others who had not been working on the front to take over. But no one did, and the break gap ballooned out to 2mins 45seconds by the end of the race. The bunch kept getting smaller and smaller so that in the final lap there was only 12 riders left. With half a lap to go, McCarty attacked and two riders went with him. Soon after that, Robert Biard, Chris Trickey and several others tried to bridge the gap. I did not try and follow as I thought Dave Wenger would try and bring them back. I was doing some good pulls on the front of the small group I was in but most of the others were not keen on working. In the last 4-5miles I was feeling good and pulling hard and was bringing the group of five back within striking distance. With about a mile to go, after I had did a pull on the front, Wenger opened a gap on me and Raurri Day-Stirrat (THJS) was blown and would not close the gap for me. I was left without a choice but to try and chase them back down. This was not successful and I finished 14th. I pleased with my finishing efforts though despite not having any fluids for the last two laps of the race.