I started this race with the full intention of sitting in and waiting for the inevitable pack sprint finish. Breaks rarely work in the 3/4s because of the mixed field and lack of coordination from teams to help a break get established. So right out of the gate we let 1 solo guy roll off the front and the rest of the pack rolled around and looked at each other. After a few laps, some attacks hit and were covered and the solo guy in the break yoyo’d in his gap. During one of these yoyos on the back straight (during the tailwind) an Audi guy rolled away from the group and went on a mission to bridge. After a short while, he joined the leader and now the break was a slightly more solid 2. One of the interesting aspects of racing 3/4 as compared to 1/2/3 is that the fields are a lot more varied and the likelihood that anyone knows who is consistently strong is low – so when someone comes out of the pack to bridge, it is hard to tell if that is a move you should go with or if anyone is marking you. I rode very near the front for the first 1/2 of the race. I missed my chance to bridge with Audi guy but studied the break carefully trying to determine if they were solid, working together and whether or not I thought this could be a winning move. We were maintaining the break in sight but their lead was consistently 1 straight (1/4 lap).
About 1/2 way through the race we came through the 2nd corner onto the tailwind back straight. I was about 5 wheels back and one of the first two guys dropped a chain or had some kind of mechanical and caused disorganization at the front of the pack. Until that moment, I had not considered a bridge attempt – but as I came through to the front I looked up and the break looked closer on the long fast straight than they had in a few laps so I cranked it up a few hundred watts and accelerated off the front of the pack. One would never get away solo in the 1/2/3s with a move like that but in the 3/4 I could easily accelerate smoothly and seated and establish a gap. By the end of that 1st straight I had closed about a 1/3rd of the gap and was clear off the front of the group so I put my head down and crushed it for the remainder of the lap to complete the bridge.
My 2 break mates were happy to see some more support arrive and after sitting out one rotation to recover from my bridge I fell into rotation. We rode the break fast and efficiently but kept it within the bounds of everyone there. My break mates were Monster Media (Brian Scholl) and Audi (didn’t ever catch his name). We successfully rolled through the first few lap cards with a solid gap but with 2 to go, the pack was closing. I knew they wouldn’t be that organized and could see that they were right there but as we came through on the bell lap, the 3 of us still had 10 seconds or so on a charging field. As I rolled through the line, I could see many teammates and friends exuberantly cheering us on. I looked up to see Jan standing there and giving me the universal sign for “hit the gas” as I rotated through. For those of you that don’t know and need to – the universal sign for “hit the gas” is to pretend you are riding a motorcycle and twist the throttle with your right arm – while yelling GO GO GO! So I “hit the gas” and immediately pulled the Audi guy off the back. Now it was just me and Monster Media. I had already worked out that the other guy should have the last pull (straight before the sprint) so I laid on the power on the back straight. We came around the 2nd to last corner and it was desperate. We still had the gap but the pack was charging and we couldn’t back off. MM guy hung me out for the first 1/3 of that last straight before the sprint, but ultimately came around with a strong pull and that allowed me a few pedal strokes of recovery.
We came into the last corner and I would have liked to stay in his draft for the first 100m before opening up – but I was so aware of the looming pack that I felt I needed to launch my sprint right away. We rounded the corner – I jumped on the inside line – and we were off on a drag race to the line. My jump was strong enough to get clear by quite a bit but the sprint was long so I knew that holding on would be tough. As we closed through 50 to go I had my eye on Monster Media trying to step back out of my draft and come around but I knew as we closed that he had run out of road and I had him. We came across the line and I threw just to make sure but I had him by about 1/2 a bike length, with 3rd place coming out of the charging pack about 10 feet back.
It was super cool to be in a break in a 3/4 race that worked and to hold on for the win. One or two more like that and I won’t be able to race with them any more – but I will be able to torture myself in the P1/2 with Chris and the big boys!