I finished up Nature Valley with a decent ride on the final day at the infamous Stillwater Criterium. I had the goal of finishing the entire race and perhaps improve my overall standing. I got popped off of the lead group with a little over a lap to go. I rode in, thus completing all 20 laps but only finished 37th on the day. Not as good as I had hoped for but I did improve overall. I finished my first ever Nature Valley Grand Prix in 34th overall, which is nothing to brag about but I was satisfied with it.
The morning of the US Elite National Time Trial went well, I was fortunate enough that Mac competed in the U23 event earlier, so I had a gauge as far was what it would take to do well. I set off right as Jonathan Jacob crossed the line and immediately knew what it would take, which would have been the ride of my life.
I took off and felt terrible, just couldn’t find a rhythm and the legs were fighting me. I am not one for excuses but I would have loved to have had better legs – at the end of the day I ended up 13th out of 70 something guys. I know I am capable of riding better and it is disappointing that I didn’t have the ride I know I am ultimately capable. However, congrats must go to my friend and old teammate Jonathan Jacob. He is the world’s nicest guy and to see him pull on the Stars and Bars as Elite National Champ was great. If I could not win I can not think of a person I would rather see get the gold. Congratulations Jonathan, awesome ride!
I then had 2 days before the road race so I rode around Augusta – the heat there was absolutely brutal. I watched the U23 road race detonate and figured due to the heat that the attrition rate would be just as high among the 200 starters in the Elite race. I could not have been more wrong. with 28 miles to go there were still 100+ guys in the mix.
A selective race suits me, a bunch sprint does not. WIth about 20 miles to go I laid my cards on the table. I got into a minor split and then followed attacks and found myself in what I hoped would be the move. We came through with 1 lap (15 miles to go) and things went south. As I feared our group of 13 was a little too large, people started sitting on and the gap plummeted. Our break came apart and I attacked but was brought back. One guy from our break survived as a group of 5 formed with 4 miles to go and fought it out. I was disappointed but gave it my best shot and actually raced the bike race. Next year will be better I hope. Now onto the rest of the season. I have some good form after by most ambitious racing trip and am hoping it will pay dividends.
- Erik Hamilton