I think Ironclad's blog said it best, "The men’s 4 accidentally tripped the 4 tons of TNT someone had placed in the field.." Kaboom is right. What started out as a controlled jaunt in the wind ended up in a all out echelon-or-die painfest.
The Cat4 PV crew had a whopping 3 guys in the field, which is sad considering its the largest group of racers we currently have. However, I can't complain too much since much of the team is resting up for the big stage race this coming weekend. Representing PV was myself, B-Rat, and Jeff B who was making his 2009 road race debut. Our plan was pretty simple, stay with the pack, and if possible control the end of the last lap with Brian hopefully giving me a lead out at the end. With only 3 people in a field of 40+ we had our work cut out for us. That was compounded by Brian taking a "leg stretcher" during the south leg of Lap 1, and rolling off the front. He sat out there for the next hour and 10 minutes all alone.
The fireworks really started in Lap2, with some of the Ironclad guys launching a attacks. The gloves came off for good at that point and for the next 10 miles Jeff and I were covering attack after attack, trying to let Brian stay away. Things worked well until a big attack came and a group of 7 guys got away. Unfortunately, neither Jeff nor I had the legs to get into that break and the chasers couldn't / wouldn't get organized to bring them in. The break eventually caught Brian and dropped him about 2 miles before the final lap.
The start of Lap 3 I was still in recovery mode and very grumpy about missing the break. That compounded with people complaining about not pulling through while gesturing wildly with their hands off the bars in a 20mph cross-wind resulted in a few choice words exchanged between myself and another rider. Heat of the moment exchanges in the middle of rides are never good, but the message was delivered and received and the group worked well together for the remainder of the lap even managing to pull back a few of the shelled riders from the break.
With a couple riders in Chase 1 obviously sitting in, I let Jeff know with a few miles left to do no more work. I sat in the back marking the biggest wheel sucker and jumped on him as soon as he made a move about 3k from the finish. He let up as soon as he realized I wasn't going anywhere and the group came together with 2k to go. A bit of cat and mouse later and I attacked at 1.5k and gapped the field with the hope to hold off until the finish. Unfortunately I came into the last corner poorly and lost a ton of speed right into the headwind on the final stretch. I popped with about 300m to go and the charging group swallowed me up. Jeff continued to race smart and was able to out kick most of the group for a top 10 finish. I soft peddled in a few seconds behind for 15th.
I know I missed out on a few opportunities (missing the winning break), and I didn't make the most of the ones that presented themselves (attacking too early at the finish). But considering the destruction of the remainder of the Cat4 field, I feel fortunate for where I placed.