Mar 4, 2013

Merco Cycling Classic 2013. Stages 2, 3, and 4

Stage 2: Time Trial
- The Merco Cycling Classic Time Trial was an out-and-back non-technical course.  I rode that puppy trusting my legs that they would do their stuff.  TT-ing has never been my specialty but I'm slowly but surely dialing my pacing techniques in.  I was satisfied to finish out the top-10 of the day, especially for a first time riding my new Specialized SHIV.  I think we're going to become really good friends this year.
My teammate Alison Powers just barely missed the first step of the podium and Robin Farina was in the top-10 as well.

First TT on my new Specialized SHIV.  Photo Copyright : Brian Hodes
Stage 3: Criterium
It was a race to forget.  You win some, you lose some.  We lost this one.  But we took it as a learning experience.  We missed the break, we didn't get organized early enough to reel it back, and we were disappointed.  Robin Farina scored an intermediate prime sprint and won some cash that will more than pay for the Team Juicer Machine.  On the bright side of things, I was happy to get a first criterium under my belt for this year.  After the race I tweaked my bike position a bit, and am ready to tackle the next crit.  This type of race used to be my favorite...and it will be up there on my list again.
Bad news though: I started getting hit by a really bad headcold.  I felt like I was hit by a truck after the race.  I stayed in bed all evening, watched a bit of NASCAR, and turned out the lights early.

Working together at the front of the mainfield in the criterium. Photo Copyright : Brian Hodes
Stage 4: Hilltop Road Race
A 130km race amongst Almond Groves.  I'd never seen almond trees before!  The white blossoms on the strong, stalky trees are beautiful! 
The race started out pretty slow in the first few kilometers, and we formed the intial break not long after.  It didn't last though.  There were attacks and counter attacks, and finally I got away with my teammate Beth Newell and Andrea Dvorak from EXERGY, fellow Canadian Annie Ewart from OPTUM, and Ally Stacher from SPECIALIZED-LULU LEMON bridged up to us a couple of seconds later.

We rode together well, getting over 3 minutes ahead of the main field.  Ewart and Stacher were instructed by their team directors to sit-on, and stop working with us.  I worked with my teammate Beth, and Dvorak.  Back in the main field, LULU and OPTUM were trying to bring us back.  When the gap was reduced to 1 minute, Stacher was "allowed" to work with us again.  She's a lot taller than me, and created a heck of a good draft.  I hear she makes some good bars too.  Anyway, we got caught eventually.  Attacks, covers, counterattacks...then my teammate Lauren Komanski escaped alone, and stayed away for quite some time. 

Beth got away with Alison Tetrick from EXERGY.  The duo caught up to Lauren who sat up to accept the help.  Eventually Beth and Alison took off from Lauren who we brought back into the peloton.   Despite Optum's efforts to bring them back, the two riders managed to stay away from the peloton, and BAM, BETH NEWELL WON!

Racing through the almond groves. -Photo Copyright: Tim Westmore

Good job! Alison Powers also remained in 2nd place in the overall general classification.

A fun first race for NOW and Novartis for MS Professional Cycling Team.  I wish I would have gotten to see Dr. Pob again though.  A very nice gentleman, who took some amazing pictures of all of the riders and who shared them with us, with a huge smile every time.  I hope to see Dr. Pob at Merco Cycling Classic next year. 

Now, we're in Santa Barbara until mid-March to train together.  Woot woot!  Now to kick this nasty, nasty cold.

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