Monday, May 28, 2007

Edgar Soto - Nashville

This weekend at the Edgar Soto race in Nashville finally got me back in the groove with racing. I've raced a few times this year, but none of them had the same feel as last year's Georgia Cup races. Albany's road race was slow and boring; in Perry I think my TT time was mixed up and I know my dirt road skills were screwed up. Gainesville was a good circuit race, but a single race doesn't have the same feel as an omnium weekend.

The Edgar Soto TT course was fairly hilly (100' of climbing per mile) and just technical enough that leaving my TT bike at home might have been a good call, although I don't think I would have gone slower on the Cervelo. I finished the course in 10th place at 18:28.

The 3-lap, 11-mile circuit course was constantly rolling, but only had a couple of spots that might be called climbs. It was sort of like 11 miles of Pate Road with a little longer climbing sections. The 60-rider field pretty much stayed together for the first two laps. On the first climb of the third lap, I saw a couple of riders up front seem to get a little jittery, so I took advantage of an opening near the yellow line to move up from about 20th to about 5th position. Just as I moved up a little gap started to form a few spots behind me. As we surged a little to open the gap further, somebody in the middle of the group must have touched a wheel and gone down. I ended up with 9 other riders in the front group. We formed a good pace line and stayed away for the last 10 miles. I took 7th of 10 in a long downhill sprint finish. Our group picked up about a minute and a half on the field -- that would've been helpful if it were a stage race instead of an omnium.

The crit course was a 6-turn clockwise course with just enough gradual climb on one side to give me a little help against the bigger sprinters. It played out like most of my crits: I struggled hard to stay with the front group for a few laps, then gradually slipped off the back with other large chunks of riders (10 to 20). Over the final 20 minutes, I gradually bridged my way from group to group to get back into the front 20 riders, but never got back to the front group of 10 or so riders. I finished 16th.

Jeff Clayton finished the TT 53rd in 17:55, but had a great circuit race, finishing 13th and picking up a couple of minutes on most of the field. He finished 16th with the front group in the crit, moving him to 13th in GC. If he rides well in Monday's road race, he could grab a top 10 in a large (125) cat 4 field.