The weather gods blessed the later races with sunshine and warm temperatures at Walkersville, but the strong wind was distributed equally amongst all the fields today. As usual, I made the trek to the race with Jose and we were up to our usual tricks. Once on site, he was first off the blocks with the CAT4s. I played photographer for a bit and then settled back in the car waiting for the Masters 35+ 4/5 race. In the process I ran into some of the girls from the team who had performed another hit by winning the road race for the second week in a row. Also I caught up with Rayman and we agreed on helping each other as much as possible.
We started late and that was fine by me, the later it got, the warmer it got and since I'm solar powered, I was feeling pretty good. First lap went without much noise and I stayed close to the front just in case. On the second lap there was someone off the front and the pack was content with having them for a while. But once he was caught, I made a move on the last right turn of the course and a Kelly rider came with me. We quickly opened a gap and the two of us traded nice, smooth pulls until the right hand turn after the finish line.
The wind in that section was the strongest and my companion suggested to change our tactic to shorter pulls, keeping the pace even and I agreed 100%. As we were nearing the end of the "windy section" I glanced back and noticed that the pack was about 50 yards behind, with one lonesome guy in between. It was then that I decided that our time off the front had come to an end and it was back to the comfort of the pack. But unknown to me, my break buddy kept his nose on the stem and the lonesome guy caught up to him, and by the time the pack got to me, the pack's speed went condiserably down, allowing the two guys upfront time to continue the escape. Then it hit me, the two guys at the front had the most teammates each and each team proceeded to slow the chase and disrupt any attempt of bringing them back. So the lead went from almost 10 seconds to 35 seconds and that's all it took. They stayed away for the rest of the race and I was in the now diminished chase group.
Rayman, Lance (from ARBT), a Coppi guy and the dude who was at the front early on did their best to organize a chase, but it was a numbers game. As we headed towards the line, I moved up towards the front but was exposed to the wind from about 500 meters, so my sprint amounted to just pretty much nothing. Nonetheless I was very happy because for once I was out there, making people chase me instead of the other way around and it was fun. True I made a tactical error by not staying at the front, but I'll take it as a lesson. The legs felt great and it was tons of fun.
Of course there were some who complained about getting boxed in. Next time ride aggressively and maybe you'll find the room. And it's always the guy who finishes way back who makes such statements. Congrats to Mark from Kelly Benefits who put on an amazing effort to stay off the front and get the win.
Hopefully tomorrow the legs will be there again, but as I type this, rain is beginning to fall. It's Tour of Flanders time.