Valley of the Sun – Stage 3

After protecting the lead in the RR and all of us finishing safe, we set out to get another W in the criterium.  The race was only 55 minutes, which is a relief for most of us used to racing 75-90 minutes.  55 was much more palatable for the first crit in Feb.  The course was a wide open, down town dumbbell type with great roads.  There were a few spots of cracks or sunken pot holes that could pose a challenge and they were not marked. 

All the races that day had that we had seen finished in a pack sprint, so I was fully expecting the same and was preparing to get in position to be in the front for the finish.  I started out 3rd or 2nd wheel for the first few laps and then settled into a comfortable 10th wheel.  After about 20 minutes and a few half hearted attacks by the other teams, I flatted.  I hit a huge crack in the road full speed.  I tried to jump it too late and instead wheelied into it and smacked my rear wheel so hard I thought I might have broke my carbon rim.  No prob.  Ill just get back in.  After chasing back after the official wouldn’t release me until the 28 mph peloton came screaming by, started to move up again.  Two laps later, as I was coming through the finishing stretch I hit some metal object and flatted again.  This time it was easy to get a wheel and I jumped in much better, however still at the back of the 90 person group.  I began to work my way up again to realize my new wheel felt about 20 psi under pressure.  So I had to start thinking about the risks of hitting corners as hard as I was and I ended up making the rare decision to be smart and back off. 

Colby and Mahting from the team put in some great moves at the end and the team raced great.  We didn’t get the win, but it was a super fun race.

We ended up keeping Jim out of trouble again and claiming the top spot on GC for the race. Winning a big race like this was a cool deal to be a part of and it felt like a real team effort. 

This was my first stage race in years and I really enjoyed it.  Additionally, our host housing with my wife’s aunt and uncle was fantastic.  We felt very fortunate to be treated so well and to really feel like we were at a resort on vacation with a bit of bike racing mixed in.

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