So hot. All the Red Kites have been hot, but I was feeling it more this time. I got there early enough to get in my whole warm up and then some. I set up in the grass near the start/finish, so I had a lot of time to think tactics while watching the races before ours. This weekend’s setup moved the start/finish to the backside of the original course, out of the last 90* right and just before the ‘chicane’ (more like wide open sweeper that people have real issues dealing with for some reason). If it came down to a sprint finish that last corner would be sketchy. Would be nice to get in a break with someone from Suffolk-SunPower and Leopard-Sapporo as they both had huge numbers in the field.
The last Red Kite 3/4 was hilariously slow at the beginning so I decided it was time to test them. I hit it off the whistle and brought us up to a nice ~28mph. I looked back at a strung out field behind me, but they were chasing. I was happy that the pace picked up early and stayed that way so I sat back into the back and started watching the teams move. Leopard-Sapporo had two riders policing the front for most of the race, Ansel Mills in particular. I’ve raced with him before and knew he was fast, so I marked him. The Suffolk-SunPower guys have been showing up consistently to all the flat crits, and I know most of them from last year so I already knew who to watch. Tom Edwards (Sonoma State) was also in the field. He has a strong kilo that has gotten him results before.
A bunch of small break attempts went, but nothing stuck as the pace picked up for each prime. I was stoked to see a 3/4 field go so hard for the primes as well…doesn’t usually happen like that. Fast forward to when the lap cards went up. Seven to go. I decided nothing was happening yet, so I’d wait until five to go and then move up. Five to go. Moved up. Saw my boy Al up there in position and was stoked on that. Keep it up brehhh! Another break rolled off and got a gap. I felt like it was too risky to go with them so I sat up front and let it happen. Tom, two Leopard-Sapporo riders, and my track buddy Raul Arias (SJBC) were in it and making ground on the pack. Ansel was doing a perfect job blocking the front of the pack. Nobody was answering. If nobody attacked, they were going to take it (where you at Suffolk-SunPower?!).
They were substantially away by three to go and I decided it was time to lay it down. If I was going to sprint today, I wasn’t going to do it for FIF place. I came around Ansel and pulled whoever could keep up with me. I was on the front until we caught them with less than one to go. Just like Golden State, this is where the teams with big numbers should have countered and made the race easy for themselves to win, and safe for everyone else to finish. And just like Golden State, it didn’t happen. Tom made another go two corners out, and the pack answered. It got super messy and spread out hammering into the last corner and I decided that was my race. All things considered, I had a decent race so far and I didn’t want to risk it diving a last corner to sprint for maybe top ten. Chris Leibman (Suffolk-SunPower) and his teammate went 1/2, and Ansel came in third. Good job guys!