Race Recap Tour of Lawrence
The Tour of Lawrence is back and better than ever. The race featured three criteriums and an Eddy Merckx style individual time trial over the four-day Independence Day weekend. I had the Friday time trial and the hilly Sunday criterium circled as days that gave me the best opportunity for a result.
After a disappointing first race in the rain on Thursday in downtown Lawrence I needed to finish near the top in the 10-kilometer time trial to pick up enough points to stay in contention for the omnium. It was an out and back course with just over 200 feet of elevation gain on the way out, most of which came on a half-mile climb at 5% grade. I finished with a time of 13:36.78, good for second place just short of Tanner Ward’s (DNA) 13:36.37. That was enough to move me up to fourth place in the omnium.
The third day of racing featured a two-mile, somewhat technical course. Johnny Purvis (DNA) won in a solo victory as the lone survivor of a three-man breakaway that went away after the first twenty minutes of racing. I had good legs but found myself out of position on the last lap and wasn’t able to place in the top ten to pick up any omnium points. I kept my fourth place standing in the omnium, but was mathematically eliminated from finishing on the overall podium and would have to race well on the final day to keep from sliding lower down the standings.
The final crit on Sunday was a one-corner course with a short climb to the finish followed by a gradually turning descent to start the lap. For the first half of the race the peloton mainly stayed together with nobody able to stay off the front for much longer than one lap. The climb wasn’t hard enough to really split the peloton and the downhill making it hard for riders to stay away. I tried to follow as many moves as I could, hoping to get away with a few strong riders. About halfway through the race, the first real breakaway was established with Alex Hoehn (Aevolo) going off the front with three other riders. They stayed out for several laps, but never got a very large gap, and were eventually brought back by attacks from the peloton on the hill. With 6 laps to go, I was on Tanner’s wheel when he attacked over the hill. Alex Hoehn and Cailean Carlberg (Soundpony) bridged across to us on the downhill and we immediately started working to grow our gap. Carlberg was quickly dropped and Hoehn refused to pull through, so it was up to Tanner and I to drive the break. With two laps to go, our lead was up to 50 seconds and we knew the race was down to the three of us. I knew Tanner was more interested in securing the overall win than winning the final day and I was hoping that if I attacked at the right spot on the final hill that they would look at each other while I rode away. I made my move at the bottom of the hill and the hesitation from the other two allowed me to have a six second lead as we hit the bell lap. The gap remained the same for most of the downhill and fast flat section on the back of the course, but as I took the one corner on the course I saw that my gap was growing. I still hit the final hill hard, leaving nothing to chance, but as I neared the finish I had time to sit up, zip my jersey, and celebrate my victory. Alex out sprinted Tanner in a photo finish 28 seconds behind me, while the peloton finished 48 seconds back.
Final 6 laps of Sunday’s criterium.
After just missing out in the time trial, it was a huge relief to get the win on the final day, especially since I rarely cross the line first in a criterium against fields as strong as this one. As always, I would like to thank our great sponsors at City Title & Closing, Smithfield, Shoulder Center of Arkansas, CLIF Bar, Custom Electronics, and The Bike Route. Also, a huge thank you to Cindy Bracker and the Women’s Free State Racing team who put on an awesome weekend of racing that will definitely be on my schedule again in the coming years.