May 24, 2010

West Branch Omnium

This weekend Vince and I headed up to sort-of northern Michigan for the West Branch Omnium, which consisted of a 88 mile road race on Saturday morning and a criterium Sunday afternoon. The road race was four laps of 22 miles, with a fairly challenging ~1 mile climb at the end of every lap. The first trip up the climb I hit it hard, hoping to create an early selection and to reduce the numbers advantage that the bigger Michigan teams held over us. Nothing really came of it though and most of the field caught back on on the descent. This left me thinking that the climb was not a very good place to try to make a selection, which in retrospect may have been a bad call. In any case, the remainder of the race consisted of lots of short-lived attacks with not-so-fast riding in between. At one point Vince was up the road in a very promising looking group, and I bridged up, taking only one other rider with me.  I think we were both pretty certain that this was the selection, but it was not to be and was eventually brought back.  Right after that a group of three rolled off the front, never to be seen again. Bissel, probably the strongest team in the race, was happy with the break’s makeup, and they were successful in killing any attempts to form a chase group. A couple kilometers before the finish I found myself off the front in a small group; looking around they all looked pretty tired, so I jumped and was able to get rid of them.  I built up a decent sized lead before the finishing climb, but two riders jumped up from the field at the last minute and came around me, so I ended up finishing 6th.

After a much needed 11.5 hours of sleep at the Tri-Terrace Motel, we headed over to the crit course, hoping to improve on our performances from the previous day and maybe win a 6-pack of the Pomegranate-Raspberry or Passionfruit-Mango Michelob Ultra that was available to the podium finishers. Pretty early in the race, a dangerous move with two of the stronger guys in the field got away.  Sensing that the win might be riding away from us I planted myself on the front and brought it back. Right after that a group of five jumped and got away.  Vince made a nice bridge effort, but couldn’t quite close things down and got caught in no-man’s land.  A few laps later I jumped and bridged up to him, unfortunately bringing riders from Bissel and Priority health with me. As each of these guys had riders in the breakaway, the bulk of the work to close down the gap, now at over 30 seconds, was left to Vince and I.  We managed to get things close, and with a lap and a half to go Vince jumped with the Priority health rider and rode up to the break.  Unfortunately the catch was a little too late in the race and Vince didn’t really have enough time to recover from his efforts from the sprint and ended up finishing 6th. I managed to out sprint my remaining chase group partner to take 8th.

-Greg Christian