Race Recap #FullGas Road Race
This past Sunday, the City Title Cycling team traveled to Tulsa for the #FullGas Road Race (or Tall Chief). The course is one of my favorites to race on, with its rolling hills, short climbs, exposed crosswind sections and a 300 meter climb of 8% grade to the finish. The P/1/2 race featured 3 laps of the 20-mile course. It was probably the coldest race I’ve done, with temperatures just above freezing at the start.
For the first 10 miles, which are hilly and mostly a tailwind, the race stayed together with only a two-man breakaway allowed to keep a small advantage on the rest of the field. After we turned into the headwind the racing got animated. A group of eight riders split off the front of the peloton and made it across to the leaders. We had Reid in there, but I was not expecting much action into the wind and was caught off guard. I immediately tried to bridge across, but it just wasn’t possible in the headwind. With two DNA riders (Johnny Purvis and Stephan Hirsch), Fabio Calabria (Novo Nordisk), Ryan Dupree (Soundpony) and a handful of other strong riders in the breakaway, we needed to get another rider into that lead group. We quickly got a chase organized with my teammates Adam, Ben and Jeremy working to close the gap as much as possible before the hill at the end of the first lap. We finished the first lap with a 45 second deficit to the lead group. I wasn’t optimistic about my chances of getting across but I had to try. I went hard on the hills and tried to keep as much power going as I could on the flat parts. I knew I needed to make the bridge during the tailwind section before the road turned into the crosswind section, it would have made my job much harder. Fortunately, after about ten minutes of effort I made it across to the front group just before the change in direction.
The second half of the race had little action. Occasionally some riders would try something off the front, but for the most part we just kept the paceline rotating. I tried to keep the race hard through the last time on the hilly section but the strong headwind on the second half of the course discouraged attacking and kept everyone relatively fresh for the finish. I did one final attack as we turned from a headwind to a crosswind with 3 miles to go but everyone was wise to it and was on my wheel immediately. At this point it was sure to come down to the final uphill sprint. This would be my first time in a group sprint in my three times of doing this race so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I positioned myself toward the front on the approach, but I was up there too soon as I got shuffled to the back of our ten-man group just as we took the final corner. I weaved my way through some of the stragglers and with about 50 meters to go I hit the front. I couldn’t see anyone in my peripheral vision and just had to go as hard as I could until I crossed the line. I got to the line first, and turned to see Fabio Calabria about a half wheel behind me for second place. Johnny Purvis crossed in third.
[Photo: Biff Stephens]
I couldn’t have gotten this win without my teammates who completely buried themselves to help me get across to the leaders. I also want to thank our great sponsors: City Title & Closing, Smithfield, Shoulder Center of Arkansas, CLIF Bar, Custom Electronics, and The Bike Route. The Tulsa Wheelmen do a great job promoting this race and I encourage everyone to check it out if you haven’t already.