It was cool to be back in Madison this weekend for the first time in a long time. It felt strange, as I'd spent the last 3 years living in town, and I rent an apartment downtown, but I forgot where everything was located. Either way it was cool to see the UW crew out cheering and racing this weekend.
Denzer was one of my favorite races last year, with a good 5-minute climb steep enough to drop the peloton. This year, Jordan "da Canadian" Roessing went from the gun solo. I did the early break thing last year, and I remember that even with Dierking, Crater, and I motoring it we could not stay away the whole race. So this year I stayed in the pack and waited for 1 or 2 laps to go.
Well things played out way different this year, with Jordan staying away after Stemper and Busche bridged up to him on lap 2 of 5. We drilled it for a while and got the break in sight on the finishing straight, but that was the last we saw of them after GP, Dewy, GDVC, and other teams did not want to chase. So the gap opened up to 8 minutes or so and the race was over for us.
Things got harder on the 4th lap climb, and Dewy made a nice attack and dropped all but Marcotte, but it didn't really matter as the break was already long gone. So I rolled with a chase group for a while and sprinted for 10th to practice a bit.
Sunday's Wheels on Willy crit always surprises me--I mean, its a local race with $1000 and some decent preems, but the crowd, atmosphere, announcer, field, and course make this race quite fun. I had this plan to sit on the whole race and wait for a sprint like last year, but things played out different than I thought!
The pace was solid from the gun, and a strung out field was splintering all over the road. I jumped into the front split to keep from working too much, and I ended up being up there the entire day. The break motored sometimes well, sometimes not well depending on who was rolling good at the front. I put in pulls when appropriate and closed a lot of gaps as riders began to tire around 30 minutes in.
Then, at 35 minutes in, Chad Hartly, Bennett, and Meyers just rolled off the front of our 9 man move...then Stemper bridged the small gap, and Dierking did too. I was right on Dierking's wheel, but given that I was the only one up in the move all day long, and ABD was the only team represented in the break, I waited for one of the other key players to close the gap like Marcotte, House, or Scholzen. I guess everyone was gassed at this point, so it rolled anyway.
It looked like GP and IS Corps were kind of shattered, so a group of us got a chase going with 15 minutes to go off the front of the remaining peloton. We never made it quite close enough to bridge, so our last chance was for GP to TTT it at the front and bring them back for a field sprint. That was a no go as well, so we were racing for 6th place. I got pushed into the gutter on the last lap, but rebounded to come around all the stragglers in the sprint and take 9th overall behind Marcotte, Carter, and House.
Regardless of lost opportunity, this crit was great fun and good training for Somerville next weekend.
East coast racing starts Memorial Day weekend, followed by a trip to Quebec and some riding at the Tour of Pennsylvania.