62 PRO 1,2 guys lined up at the start-line of the Laguna Race-way and there was a full squad of the Bissell Pro team along with good representation from the Liquid Cycling team, Land Rover-ORBEA, Successful Living, Slipstream and several other strong teams. From the gun, the pace was very high on the wind-swept raceway course that did not afford much recovery time and the corners on each end were 180 degree turns. This combined with agressive riding from Bissell Pro Cycling strung out the field and we were riding in the gutter in quite severe cross-winds. I was up near the front after 15mins of racing, but a crash on one of 180 degree turns broke up the field even further and it also un-settled me. My left foot was hit by the guy who went down in front of me, but I managed to stay up-right and then chased hard to get onto the back of the front group, looked behind me and the main bunch was about 50 metres behind and chasing hard. The effort of getting back onto the front bunch after the crash caused me to red-line for too long that I was gapped on the next 180 degree turn and found myself in no-mans land. When several guys came past me, I was unable to jump onto their wheels and on the next lap I made a tactical mistake of pulling out to the right (where the strong wind was coming from) and allowed the bunch, that was single file, to motor past me and I had no shelter from the wind. I tried my best to jump onto the end of the freight train but could not hold the power for long over the hill. I rode another few laps and a couple of strong looking guys came up to me and I started working with them to try and bridge back up to the main bunch that was only about 20 seconds up the road, but the Chief Official had other ideas. He pulled us from the race, I thought it was way too soon as the breakaway of three Bissell riders were still half a lap behind us!
For the short duration of the race (21mins) I had averaged over 315 watts, with regular spikes of 1000 watts!! I was definitely on the back foot in this criterium and will take away a few lessons learnt to apply to future criteriums. Positioning on this type of course is crucial, as once you are too far back or gapped it is almost impossible to survive due to the pronunced rubber-band effect through the corners. By the time I would go through them, the leaders were already back up to 30mph and I would still be doing 18-20mph and having to sprint just to maintain contact. Out of the 62 riders, only 33 finished and the ones that were dropped happened early and after half-way point in the race the pace was alot more steady and no further riders were dropped from the two bunches of 13 and 17 respectively. The Bissell Pro Cycling Team rode impressively to take the top 3 podium spots to start their Sea Otter campaign in grand style.