Last weekend Team Panther raced the Cherry Roubaix races in Traverse City, Michigan, the “Cherry Capital of the World.” Saturday afternoon’s criterium was held on a tight 6 corner course in Old Town Traverse City, with a section of bricks and a couple bumpy corners. Because the race was only 50 minutes plus one lap it was fast and strung out from the gun, averaging over 28 mph for the duration. Greg Christian and Mac Brennan took turns lighting up big attacks which eventually set up Ryan Cross to make a three man break that built a 15 second lead. The break looked good for us, but was brought back with less than 3 laps to go, which coincided with some sprinkles of light drizzle starting to fall. I grabbed Greg’s wheel and he drilled it for the last lap taking me through the second to last turn where I jumped to get into the last turn first but could not hold off Derek Witte (Bissell) and finished 2nd. Greg held on for 8th, Mac was 10th and Ryan 14th, everyone upright and intact.
Sunday’s race was a 93 mile road race starting and finishing in the small town of Cedar, taking in some of the hills in the area, including a climb up the road to the Sugarloaf Mountain ski area. Numerous breaks formed and were chased down for the first half of the race, often on the tailwind sections of the course. Over the top of one of the hills I found myself in a five man group to which Greg bridged up within a few miles. We had two riders in seven with the strongest sprinters back in the field and only one rider from Bissell, putting them in a position to chase. Our group rolled out to a solid gap by the start of the last 15 mile lap, where Greg and I attacked to split up the break, hoping to get one of us clear. Over the top of Sugarloaf the break shrunk to three and then only Chris Fisher (Priority Health) and I. The group swelled to four on the tailwind run in to the finish with Greg just short of making contact before the sprint. I jumped hard out of the last turn but left it about 25 meters too short as Fisher came around me at the line. Greg rolled in for 5th, Mac Brennan for 8th after a long bridge attempt and Ryan 16th.
Two more podium finishes for the team and a good weekend in Michigan. Thanks much to Pat and Iris Brennan for hosting us at their place in Traverse City and to Mac’s parents for top notch work in the feed zone.