This has to be my favorite finish for a road race. Coldsprings offers a nice, rolling, 16 mile loop, with a tough uphill finish, so once the move back to Texas was completed last September, I quickly marked it on the calendar of races as a MUST!!.
Up until last Saturday, the training has gone according to plan. In Fayeteville, the effects of a week in Cancun showed that drinking and eating, then traveling straight to the race after 4 days of laying by the beach is not good preparation. Then at Beauty and The Beast, I could sense that things were starting to turn. But once I started to do the Gruppo VOP ride in Austin on Saturdays, my form just took off. So not wanting to push things as in previous years, I devised this plan to include two hard rides during the week, but plenty, and I mean, plenty of easy riding in between. Never was I a fan of one hour long rides, I couldn't be bothered, but now, after getting some good feelings and getting to the weekend rested as opposed as trashed from too much riding during the week, the chances at Coldpsring looked promising.
The only other time I did the race was in 2006, when I finished 3rd...with that in mind and knowing that the form was there, I told myself 3er or better this time, and to hug the yellow line as much as possible, especially on the approach to the finish. At a few minutes after 8am, the Masters 35+ 4/5 took off and my teammates Glenn and Danny were joining in the festivities. Totally against my style of racing (tail gunner), I spent the first lap of the race no farther than 5 positions from the front. The pace wasn't hot and it wasn't until someone went down somewhere in the middle of the second lap, that things started to pick up. As is customary with me, I went straight to the back of the group, but was finding it easy to move back to the front, thanks to wide roads and the undulations allowed me to carry momentum at will.
When we hit the last lap, a two man break formed and those two guys worked very well together...Glenn came by and asked if they would stay away. Shaken my head to indicate, no!!, I was sure that their short lead was going to be closed down by the main bunch as we got near the finish. But they kept a relentless and steady pace, while at the back the bunch became unorganized, or the chase was properly disrupted. Danny put on a ton of effort, together with a couple of other guys, to close the gap, but there was a team from Houston always getting in and slowing things down. At the front, the two escapees just kept their heads down while at the back we were already thinking about racing for third. Over the bridge we went and I was towards the back of the then diminished pack, safely inside but close to the yellow line, as my plan was. Confusion sat in with where the 200m mark was, but I knew that once the front sped up, the middle of the road would open up, and it did...I began to accelerate about 300 meters out, sticking to the yellow line, and passing riders...I glanced up and the two breakways were taking the two top spots, but two other guys were fighting for the last podium spot...I was now in full afterburner mode and closing fast on the next two riders, but one of them looked back and kicked again. So 4th it was...not the goal I had set, but not a bad result either. Glenn and Danny were not that far behind, coming in 6th and 7th.
Meanwhile, over in Denmark, the Giro is now on its way to the motherland. Good for Phinney to take the lead on Saturday and for battling two crashes on the next two stages. Ferrari's attitude and mouth didn't win him any friends today, but in pro cycling, people like him find the hard way not to mess or risk other riders chances, especially, when you are marked as the guy who took down the current World Champ. His manager, the cagey, Giani Savio went into damage control as soon as his rider had crossed the line. A great tactician but even better politician, Savio's PR move would hopefully sooth any hard feelings, and the up coming day off should help his cause.