The Winona Lake Criterium was on a flat, fast, 4-corner course in a nice little area called the Winona Lake Village. It’s kind of like the town in the Truman Show… Anyway, I lined up for the crit solo since Greg and Chris had decided to head back home and do real world things like graduate from college or something. I started in the front row and when the gun went off I got into my pedal pretty quickly, but I was in a pretty big gear. I took a few hard pedal strokes to get on top of the gear and dove into the first corner. When I looked back to see what was going on behind, all I saw was John Puffer from Texas roadhouse and then about 10 bike lengths back to the field. I decided to put the hammer down just to test the waters. Puffer and I rotated together for a few laps and our gap to the field was growing and at the same time a few of the critical team sent riders up to the move and we were outta there.
At one point there were as many as 8 of us in the move, but after some attacking before we lapped the field, we were able to trim it down to 5. Myself, Mike Sherer (Verizon), Rolf Eisenger (RGF), John Puffer (Roadhouse) and Erik Hamilton (Nuvo) made up the group that would eventually lap. I didn’t really want to lap since I didn’t have any teammates in the group, but on such a short course (1/2 mile) it was hard not to. Once back around to the field, I tried to get away again without some of my breakaway companions, but their respective team weren’t having any of that. I found Ben Renkema, former Kenda pro and very fast finisher. Since he hadn’t lapped with us, he was going to work for me at the end. With 3 to go I found his wheel and we were fighting for the front. Coming into the final corner he was in 3rd wheel and I was right behind in 4th wheel, pretty solid positioning for the long-ish sprint. I was queued up and ready to go, when the next thing I know Ben crashed coming out of the corner. He slid out and I tried to get around him on the right but his bike bounced up and literally landed on my handlebars and smacked me in the side. I went crashing down and so did my chances of grabbing another win for Panther on the weekend. I picked up my bike with the wheels wobbly and shifters dangling off the bars and rode it the 300 meters to the line to claim my 5th place. Bummer.