Saturday morning at first looked to be similar to many of our previous race days, as the rain started coming down just as I started loading up the SuperSix for the Greene County Road Race. For the WVU Cycling team, rainy race days have become the rule, not the exception, as many of our previous race weekends have had miserable weather at best. However, after crossing the state line into Pennsylvania, rainy skies turned into clouds, which turned into sun. It might be a good day after all.
While the stormy forecast might have scared off a few people, over 40 starters were present for the combined mens 4/5, 5 field. Racing for WVU was Kyle Kukieza and myself. Other familiar faces included the Dynamic guys, including president Todd Latocha. Once the race started, I found myself getting pushed to the back of the field from some eager Cat 5's. Although at this point all I wanted to do was sit in, I did not want to have to navigate through a field once the climb came up. With Kyle behind my wheel, I made a move to move back up to the top third or so and jumped back inside and stayed put until the climb. Once we started going up, I shortly found myself up at front with Todd by my side. Although him and I are relatively strong climbers, we didn't really push the tempo up enough to truly break away.
Cresting the peak, our tempo pace had split the leaders to about a group of eight, with one a bit off the front. Not being too overly concerned, our group worked well to slowly bring back the leader. The middle section of the course was mostly flat and rolling, and the group maintained a strong paceline throughout. Soon after passing the 27th mile, I took a GU to prepare for the hill climb carnage that would soon be upon us. The "tentative" plan of attack for the hill was to ramp up the tempo hard with Todd and try and stay away. In addition, Kyle would be blocking any attempt at a chase to bring us back in the end. Kyle graciously accepted the sacrificial role in exchange for a lead-out if the either the break didn't stick or happen.
As we hit the hit the noticeable part of the climb, it suddenly got real hot. Not knowing the climb length, I let Todd get a couple bike lengths on me in fear of blowing up. Unfortunately, the climb was much shorter than I anticipated and I hit the crest with a match or two that could have been used. Despite that, I was sitting 4th and riding solo and I knew I was likely the last person who got away. If I wanted to keep my place, I had to give it everything and hope Kyle was doing his job behind me. When I saw the 1 mile to go sign I found some extra energy and cruised to the finish.
As it turns out, Kyle was in a group of three behind me, doing his best to slow down the chasing pace. Once he knew I was clear, he was free to move and prepare for his sprint. Despite a mechanical not allowing him to sprint out of the saddle, he still won out and claimed 5th. In summary, it turned out to be a great day for racing and a perfect execution of team tactics (contrast to my last post!) allowed both of us to finish top 5.