Wenger wins Driveway from late break

David Wenger from the Super Squadra racing team won from a late break that established a slender gap with three to go after Daniel Carruthers (Hansaton Hearing Systems) took the final cash prime on offer. The five escapees, including Chris Trickey (Austin Nationals), who pulled out a bag of tricks to win the most aggressive rider jersey award on the night, Loren Dodson (Park Place), Colton Jarisch (Volossimo Racing), Kevin Schaefer (Team Six) and Wenger ( Super Squadra). It was Dodson who made the final attack to bid for the top spot on the podium, but he blew up just before the hill and was swiftly picked up and disposed of by Wenger who came flying by and up the hill to take a convincing win over Colton Jarisch. Schaefer filled the final podium spot with Trickey coming in 4th and Dodson rounding out the top five. This win by Wenger gave him the top spot overall for the month.

The charging field was led home by John Trujillo (GCCA) who was delivered to the hill in good fashion by team-mate Joseph Lafico. He was closely followed by fast finishing Phil Wikoff (Super Squadra) and Tyler Jewell (Texas Tough) who is coming back from his horrific encounter with a drunk driver earlier this year.

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My own perspective:

After starting at the very back of the field for several laps, I noticed a threatening break of about 8 or so strong riders had formed and were starting to ride away. I decided to put in an attack to try and bridge across when going out on the back side of the course, but everyone had quickly responded to my move and when I looked back it was all single file behind me. I kept digging it in for a few more seconds so that the damage from the break would be limited. I got within 30 metres of the tail-end of the break and then swung off to allow others to finish of my work. This caused a momentary lull in the pace, however guys who had momentum from behind started jumping across to the break and then it was all back together again.

I come into most criteriums with the objective of riding positively and this means going for the primes that are on offer, getting into breaks and also try to recover in time to finish well at the end. Since I don’t have any team-mates that can help with lead-outs and/or blocking the field, its all on me to exploit situations as they arise. Which means I can be riding reactively or instinctively. Whenever I realise it is a prime lap (sometimes I don’t know as I missed “seeing” the bell ring, I can’t hear the bell!) I endeavor to move up as efficiently as I can but sometimes I just power up to the front on the outside into the wind. Sometimes I get lucky and get a free ride to the front by others who are moving up to get into position. Most of the time, I have managed to be in contention for primes I choose to go after. It is usually the same guys that have the upper hand over me in the decisive point by the hill. Sometimes, if I can’t make it close enough to the front, I will just follow the moves during the prime lap and then try and follow the counter-moves that are made straight after the prime lap. In this particular race, on one of the prime laps I was moving up to get good position and David Wenger had left a gap of more than a bike length open when going through the S-bends before the hill. I decided that I wanted to slot into that gap but Wenger for some reason was not happy about me doing this, so he got a bit argy bargy with me and could have caused a crash with his pushing on me. I was not going to concede my position so made myself a little bigger on the bike and this caused him to sprint on ahead in a huff. Sometimes, if you let gaps open up, they are free for anyone to slot into if they can do so safely. In my view, I thought I was doing this quite safely and smoothly but the other had other ideas.

With about five to go, I was the very last rider but was feeling reasonably ok, and decided to move up to the front. In the space of one lap, I crested the top of the hill on third wheel. Going through finishing straight the front two guys power away and I decide to follow them, the bell was rung by Bob Daniels for the last cash prime with 3 laps remaining in the race. I looked behind and saw that the three of us had a slight gap and I stuck with them. But after going down the downhill section going out to the back-side, I noticed that the pack looked like they were going to catch us. For this reason, I backed off and soft-pedalled for a few moments as I seriously thought the pack was in full flight. But I checked again and the bunch was starting to fan out and there was no single file speeding to catch me. I immediately sprinted back to those two, caught them again just before the top bend, led them coming out of it and charged down the straight. I could not drop them, so I slowed and eventually got both of them to pull through. As I was slotting on the back of them, I turned to check on the progress behind me. I saw that the several guys were charging hard, including Jen McRae (Team Type 1) and Loren Dodson (Park Place) so I had barely two seconds on the back of the two guys I was with, that I launched my final attack to try and nab the prime. Passed the two guys easily and crested the top of the hill with a slim advantage over charging McRae.

In the end, it was a prime with a comfortable margin but it took the sting out of my legs that I was unable to respond to the attacks that formed the winning break. With two to go I was still recovering and close to the back of the field again, but on the final lap I was able to slowly move up inch by inch. I was watching for the opportunity to make that move that would take me back to the front of the pack to vye for the sprint for 6th place. That opportunity presented itself halfway down the back straight when the field fanned out slightly and I saw a guy make an attack down the right side. I latched onto his wheel and was taken straight to the lead-out train. But the speed was not very high and thus I was momentarily stalled. The two Super Squadra big hitters were on my left forming their train. The rider who had got me to the position I was now in, made another attack and I chose not to take his wheel this time for some reason. However, Wheeler (Super Squadra) happily jumped onto it with Wikoff in tow followed by Tyler Jewell. I slotted behind these guys to follow them up the hill. It was all meyhem at the top with riders taking different lines to avoid the blown riders and continue their sprint. I stayed on Tyler’s wheel the whole time and finished 4th in the sprint to take 9th overall.