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Chris Phipps steps to the podium after super strong effort by all 8 Thirstybears at Winters 45+ 123

Strong team efforts sees Phipps on the podium
Strong team efforts sees Phipps on the podium
Field 50 with 8 Bears!
Alan, Brenon, Duane, Hans, Holger, Josef, Shawn & myself.
The day’s plan was to use our bearpower to make the race as hard as possible & hopefully have just a small group going into the final few kms with a couple bears to set up Brenon for the sprint win.  Cloudy skies, slightly damp roads & cool temps to start. It was a windy day with a strong breeze coming out of the south.
After the lead moto led us the wrong way out of town (how many times have we done this race?), we turned around & began the race.  The bears were at the front in force in the headwind section, with Josef, Alan & Hans initiating & covering the early attacks that went nowhere.  In the short crosswind section, we had a nice bearchelon at the front & Duane got a little gap. I don’t know if it was intentional, but we backed off to let others chase.  The first time up the Cantelow climb, we had good representation at the front and were pushing the pace, but so were several others including Bryan Hoadley (R4R Make a wish), David Passmore (Specialized) & Steve Archer (Morgan Stanley).  I led over the top of the climb & on the short technical descent to Pleasants Valley road where we had a nice tailwind.  The group was strung out with little gaps, but most people were still there clawing to get back on.  Those of us on the front were doing our best to keep that from happening. Alan took a few super hard pulls as did Jay Newton (Victory Velo), but most of the field was still together as we went through the finish for the first time. I think Hans attacked solo here. He was off the front so many times, I can’t remember for sure.  Hans got brought back, but attacked solo again as we were headed to Cantelow for the second time.
We stayed near the front, but let others set the pace until Hans came back, then I went to the front to turn it up a bit. I led over the top again & after the descent & turn on to Pleasants Valley, we had a group of 8 with a small gap. We had Brenon, Holger & myself in there along with Hoadley, Ott (Chronos), Shore (Hammer), Passmore & Stockwell (Sierra Nevada). With 2 teammates in there, I went to the from to take a hard pull, but after a minute drifted back & noticed Brenon was missing & the pack was close to catching us, so I sat up.  Turns out Brenon had flatted & was done for the day, so that was a real bummer.
Our group slowed & swelled up again as all the guys who had been dropped or taken a free lap (Bubba) rejoined our group.  There was a lull, so I took a solo flier & TTd for about 5 miles with the group a constant 20-30 sec back. I hit the headwind section, & was hoping someone would bridge up. Then I saw Jay coming with Duane in tow,  but the pack was only a few seconds back, so we were quickly absorbed. Duane then took a solo flier though and lasted for a long time. We caught him as we got close to the climb, then Hans went again!  This was great for me as I was just sitting 3rd or 4th wheel and went on the attack right as we caught Hans. By the top of the climb, it was just me & Hoadley.  We were able to 2 man TT to the finish, where I lost the 2 up sprint & got 2nd.  Sorry I couldn’t deliver the win for the team, but I was happy for Bryan though as he had done a lot of work all day. Stockwell won the small chase group sprint for 3rd ahead of Shore. Holger & Josef were close behind in 9th & 11th with Shawn, Hans, Duane and Alan not too far back.
The team was great today though! All 8 of us were at the front or off the front the whole race which makes racing really fun.
CP

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