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Copperopolis Road Race – April 23, 2011

Great race, great weather, and several good results but unfortunately mechanicals, cramps, and flats kept us from the podium.

Arthur Jones appeared to be cruising along just fine while riding away solo in the 45+123 race, but unfortunately bad cramps dropped him out of the front group several times.  Nevertheless, he came back more than once to the lead group but ultimately came to a stand still with 200 meters from the line.  Dan Palmer placed 9th, Hans Gouwens 13th.

Below is the 35+123 report:

Category: 35+ 1/2/3

Results: 6th, plus a bunch of team mechanicals
Starters: Somewhere around 50

Big Kudos!: To Greg McQuaid for generously giving Phipps his wheel when Chris flatted on the first lap; and to Ken and Ron for dropping back and towing Chris back up to the group. Very cool guys. Great teamwork!
How it went:
This has been the season of the successful breakaway in Norcal, and today was no exception. Unfortunately, we weren’t represented in it this time.
Pretty much from the gun, a guy in a green kit got off the front. I saw him just a few hundred meters up the road and thought it was a Taleo guy. Since David Levine was right in front of me in the peloton, I decided not to worry about it. Turns out it was Brian Choi wearing a brand new green Fuzio kit (instead of last season’s blue one), and he *is* someone to worry about. 
Then on the first climb Dan Martin went stealth on us and quietly snuck away, bridging up to Choi. I still don’t know how or when Martin went, though I was positioned in the first 10 wheels. In fact I talked to several guys after the race and no one saw him go, but doesn’t matter. The result was that there were now two strong guys off the front with a ~40 sec advantage by the top of the climb, and three strong Safeway guys playing defense for Martin.
At that point I wanted to either get up to the break or pull it back, so I got as active as I could — attacking a few times in the hope of bridging (every time taking a Safeway guy with me; they did a great job of racing as a team today) and going with several moves that other guys initiated — but nothing stuck. By the end of the first lap Dan and Brian were up the road by more than a minute.
Starting the second lap, Chris was on the front putting down a real solid pace, when just before the feed zone the ass end of his bike exploded all over the road. I was right on his wheel and saw the carnage up close. His derailleur tore off the hanger and the chain ripped a nice chunk of carbon out of the chainstay. Bad news, man. That was the end of the race for our strongest pedaler.
There was no wind to speak of today (first time I’ve seen that at Copper), and there were several real good sprinters in the field, so when we began the 2nd climb I took the front and tried to ride a strong tempo to the top in the hope of getting rid of some guys. I believe the field was down to 25-30 by the time we hit the top. Phil and Ken were still there … though Phil flatted as we rounded the reservoir, with just me and Ken left from the team.
Second lap was the same as the first, with the exception that Ken came to the front and took some real nice pulls — working mainly with Easterling from Sierra Pacific and Roemer from Specialized — hoping to keep the break in check. John Hunt, Lyman, Andres Gil and I also took a few pulls, but we didn’t do as much work as the first three guys mentioned. 
Any-who, the real action began on the 3rd lap. Brian Bosch went ape shit on the main climb and destroyed the field. He accelerated hard out of the saddle, and at first, Ken was the only guy who could go with him. I knew that I’d blow myself up if if I tried to do that, so I kept riding as hard as I could but at a pace that I felt I could hold to the top, hoping to pull them back. Luckily, that worked out, so that 9 of us were left at the top: Bosch, Eropkin, Gil, Weissenberger, David Albrecht, John Hunt, Lyman, Ken and me.
 
Ken looked incredibly strong on the climb. I was super impressed. I’m pretty sure that he and Bosch were the two strongest guys in our group. And in fact, Ken was taking some MONSTER pulls on the 3rd lap, hoping to pull back the break. 
But unfortunately, Ken flatted shortly before the smaller climb near the finish, so now it was just me. (Totally bummed me out, because with two Safeways there sitting-on, and other super strong guys, I was hoping to do the whole attack/counter thing with Ken to see if we could break the elastic.)
Shortly after Ken flatted, we caught Choi. He blew up with like 5k to go, but Martin was long gone. Now we’re racing for second.
When we hit that final 2 min climb, Bosch and Gil attacked all-out. I went as 100% hard as I could and (barely) managed to hang on. We all bombed the crap out of the descent, so that with 1k to go — and with me knowing that there is no way that I’m going to out-sprint Bosch or Weissenberger (who’d rightly been sitting on), I went with an attack by David Albrecht and we had a promising gap with 600 to go. But I believe that Eropkin took the front and pulled like crazy for Weissenberger, because with about 100 to go Bosch, Weissenberger and Gil sprinted by us like we were standing still. 
So David and I crossed the line 5th and 6th.
Oh well… We’ll get em’ next time, guys!
Paul

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