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Phipps takes Santa Cruz with a gutsy move!

44th Annual Santa Cruz Classic Criterium
April 15, 2012
Category 35+ 1/2/3
Field – 57 – Teammates – none
Previous results – 9th in 2009
I am not a big fan of crits, but this one has a nice little hill on it that climbs about 50 feet in 2/10 of a mile and a hairpin 180 on the descent that makes chasing a break a little tougher than on your flat 4 corner nascar crit courses, so it’s one of my top 2 favorite crit courses. I’ve been feeling real strong this season and the plan with no teammates was to try & be patient (yeah right) and wait for a strong break to go and try to jump across to it.  If that didn’t work, I would try a solo flier with 4 or 3 laps to go.  Also, I knew that Specialized would do everything they could to set it up for LaBerge in a sprint, so it didn’t make much sense to go solo too early.
Our race was 20 laps and I started the 1st 2 laps in the back with Larry Nolan, who always makes a comment to me when we’re in the back together that I should be at the front.   There was a headwind on the hill, which was most noticeable on the false flat between the top of the hill and the finish line, so it was pretty easy to move up to the front on the hill & just afterward if you were willing to put your nose in the wind. At the end of the 2nd lap, I moved up to about 5th wheel, just as Jan Weissenberger  (GnarLube) was attacking.  I thought about jumping across, but it was early so I decided to just sit in and wait for the field to bring him back, which we did after about 3 laps.  Then they rang the bell for a prime and I attacked & had a small gap, so I went with it and soloed a lap for the $20 cash.  If nothing else, I had already paid for my gas.  This was too early to go solo, so I soft pedaled until I got caught.  I recovered a lap, then went with the next break, which was with Ben Albracht (GnarLube) and Andres Gil (I think).  We got caught, I sat in a lap, then they rang the bell for the next prime and I attacked again and did a solo lap for another $20, but it was still 11 laps to go, and since I was feeling real good, I thought I could still get away again later, so I sat up & sat in for 2 laps before the next break went.  This one was real promising with 5 of us in there including Andres Gil (Michael David Winery), Jeromy Cottell (Pen Velo), & 2 others (I’m drawing a blank on who they were).  I thought this would be the winning break and then I saw Jan bridging solo (great!). Jan caught us with 5 laps to go, but Specialized had Metcalfe, Nolan and Langley trying to pull us back to set up LaBerge and we got caught with 3 to go.
I sat in around 5th wheel to catch my breath & decided to make one final attack with 2 to go since I knew the Specialized guys (who had also done the 45+ race earlier) must be gassed.  As we crested the hill I made my move & got a gap. This was it now, I was all in TT mode for the final 3.5 minutes.  The first lap didn’t feel too bad, but as I started getting closer to the win and pushing harder my legs were screaming with lactic acid.  I really thought I would get caught on the sprint to the finish & was just hoping that I could hold on for a top 10 & a T-shirt, but as I crested the hill to the scream of “they’re catching you, use a bigger gear!” from Chris Black, so I shifted to “one harder” & got out of the saddle for my “sprint”.  I took a glance back about 50M from the finish and knew I had it! I think Dean LaBerge was going twice as fast as me and if he had another 50M would’ve caught me. 
P/1/2 race – goal – get a good workout and if I feel good with 5 laps to go try something.
Result: 29th
At 39 laps, this race was nearly twice as long as the masters I spent most of the 1st half of the race in the back with Kevin Metcalfe who was in his 3rd race of the day!  At some point a 5 man break got away and had about 20-25 seconds.  I saw that James Mattis (Cal Giant) was by himself and was doing a lot of work at the front to bring the break back.  I decided to give my fitness a try & lent a hand to bringing back the break, pulling for a lap a few times.  We did manage to pull the break back in the final 2 laps, but there were Mike’s Bikes guys everywhere and I was too far back by this point to do anything.  Mike’s Bikes ended up finishing 1-3-5-7! Very impressive.
Btw, average lap in 35+ race was 1:53.25 and average lap in P/1/2 race was 1:53.95, but twice as long.

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