Want to know how to set up a sprint finish? Watch HTC-Columbia do it. With 1K to go, Hincapie pulls to the front of the field and sets a tempo hard enough to keep anyone from coming around. Then Renshaw pulls through and goes outside in on the final corner, cutting off his pursuers from coming underneath. Cavendish pulls around in the final straight and gives it full gas. Nobody else is even close. Renshaw has enough of a gap with the leadout that he holds on for second.
And while the field is way smaller, we’re riding way slower, and our tactics are way less sophisticated, that was exactly the model Cam P., Mike H., and I used on the last lap of the Miller Motorsports Park criterium last night.
The entire race was an absolute blast. The race track is perfectly smooth, you can pedal through all the corners, and it’s wide enough to make a move anywhere you want. It’s a perfect venue for criterium racing and perhaps the most fun I’ve had at a race ever.
Karsten S. put the hurt on us as he and another Spin teammate kept the pace at 30 or so mph for the first two laps. We settled down a bit after that, but Karsten still launched probably a dozen solo attacks just to try and shake things up. For some reason, he didn’t launch an attack on the prime lap, so I was able to take that without much of a contest from anyone else.
Nine of us were left on the last lap, so three of us working together was a huge advantage. Such an advantage that Cam had been openly discussing tactics as we raced.
With about 1K to go, Cam pulled to the front and set a hard tempo. There was a cross wind coming left to right, so we were on the far right of the track with just enough room for Mike and I to tuck in in an echelon. As we approached the final left turn, I pulled out from behind Cam with Mike on my wheel cutting hard left from the outside in to keep anyone from passing on the inside. Mike came around me in the straightaway and opened a huge gap on the field. He was going so fast that he turned plaid. I was able to hold on for second by less than half a wheel over Alex’s Wright Medical teammate Zach T.
The B Flight Podium—appearances to the contrary, we’re not standing on an actual podium:
Mike had a great motor last night. He said he wanted to go with 1K left because he felt so good he thought he could take it from there. But the real hero is Cam for playing the team card and setting Mike and me up for success. At 6’7” Cam creates an awesome draft to sit in. He’s capable of winning races himself but is as happy working for a teammate as getting his own result. To say nothing of the fact that he’s an awesome guy to hang out with before and after the race and is willing to stick around to snap the podium pictures. Thanks, Cam.