Today’s road race was tougher than the criterium yesterday and the presence of Levi Leiphimer (Astana) and the full Bissell Pro Cycling squad caused mayhem in the bunch.
The road race was 70miles long raced over narrow twisting roads through the Oak Forests of the Fort Ord backcountry, punctuated with numerous hills. The weather today was the best so far, with brilliant clear sunny skies and a slight breeze that helped keep riders cool. The neutral-rollout was brutal in itself, 4 miles of up and down and the green flag was raised as we crested the top of the first hill climb when on the 10mile circuit. I was already red-lining by this point when riders went off the front attacking. I survived the first lap onslaught of the Bissell team and Levi chasing with the bunch in tow, and made it over the first major climb in the 2nd chase group by the skin of my teeth. However, the guys I was with were intent on bringing the front chase group with Levi in it back so the pace through the forest was ferious and I could never really recover and shake out the lactic acid in my legs. We did reconnect with the front bunch and I was hoping for some respite but they kept going full gas up the next steep climb through the feed-zone. This was where my legs just popped and the lead bunch motored away from me.
I spent the rest of the race riding in small groups, early on for several laps I was with a couple of Successful Living riders, NOW and a Cyclepaths rider. But they all dropped off and it was just me and JD Bergman from Clif Shot Cycling trading pulls through to the finish.
Despite the formidable presence of the Bissell Pro Cycling Squad, they were unable to defeat solo Astana rider Levi Leipheimer in the end. He still had the superior fitness and tactical experience to outwit the Bissell team to win by 4 seconds up the long climb to the hill-top finish.
Stay tuned for further race up-dates. Final Sea Otter race is on tomorrow, held on the 2.2 mile speedway circuit.