2012 Come and Take It Omnium – Cat 4
Matt DeMartino and I were teamed up for both Omnium races this weekend. In the days before the race we had been discussing the possibilities. The fields were small, with only 25 or so riders each day. I felt we had a good chance at victory. I had done these races last year and passed on what little intel I could remember to Matt, suggesting some of the climbs in the closing miles might be a place he could escape.
The Crit – 50 Minutes, 1 mile laps, 4 left turns
Matt and I reminded each other to be patient in this race. The field was small so there was no urgency to get positioned near the front immediately. I sat at the very back of the race and noticed that every turn I was hitting the brakes, then having to surge, brake again, surge. I decided to try “tail-gunning” – to do this, you ease up as you approach the corner, let a little gap form, then coast through the turn, which brings you right back to the pack. This tactic has its risks; being at the back may leave you unable to respond to moves, and large fields will have too much accordion effect for it to be useful. But with the small field and Matt farther up, it was a perfect situation for it, and I really barely had to pedal most of the race.
I was so fresh, in fact, that when the finish line approached for the first prime, I decided to go for it, attacking from the very back of the race and pulling way ahead of the entire pack to take it! Unfortunately it turned out to be a T-shirt, not the sweet sweet honey milk I was hoping for, and I wasted a lot more energy than I needed to. With better situational awareness I could have eased up much sooner and saved my legs.
I went straight back to tail-gunning after that, and tried to recover. Up front Matt was controlling the race; it was beautiful to watch. A few riders got up the road and stayed away for a few laps, but I was confident Matt would bring them back, and sure enough he did. With two laps to go I started to move up the field to be better positioned for the sprint.
On the final lap, coming out of the last turn I started to move up on the left side, hit full turbo, and motored into 4th place, my best field sprint result so far. Matt DeMartino held on for 8th despite working hard at the front all day. In retrospect the prime effort was a big mistake. I didn’t have near as much power in the final sprint as I did for the prime. Patience!
The Road Race – 33 miles with a slight uphill finish
After the crit I offered to switch roles and work to control the front of the race so Matt could sit in and make a late move. However, Matt reminded me that this was an omnium, and that we were in a position to win it if I could place well in the road race as well. I offered the suggestion of patience again, that we not make any big efforts until at least halfway through the race. At the start we were told that it was not yet known whether we would get the full road for the field sprint, and that the motorcycle ref would let us know if we would. Many found this a bit confusing, but off we went and started
The pace was pretty slow, and in the early going the roads were wide, making it easy to move around in the field. It took some restraint to not just go to the front and try to pick up the pace. Matt made a couple of little moves but seemed to stay well within himself. I took advantage of gravity and an aero tuck to roll off the front without even pedaling at one point, which forced the race to speed up a bit to bring me back. We rode around pretty calmly most of the time, though.
Around halfway a junior rider who we had heard was planning a breakaway moved up to the front and was looking people in the eye with serious game face. I knew he was going to go, so positioned myself right behind him, and sure enough he went, and I followed. I let him hammer for about 10 seconds and then I came around to take a hard pull. Sadly, though, I looked back and the whole field was still there. The pace was simply too low so far for anyone to be too tired to
Another interesting event occurred when a 787 rider got out of the saddle to make a move and his rear wheel exploded, sending him careening to the side of the road in a nasty crash. We believe his derailleur or derailleur hanger may have been loose. Fortunately this was the only crash of the race.
The final stretch of road towards the finish gets narrow and hilly, and Matt made a good move here where he got away with another rider, and they worked together pretty well. The pack was chasing, and I worked my way up front to try and control it. I would get second wheel and ease up hoping to cause one more rider to bridge up and help the escape effort. It almost worked, but in the end they were brought back after a few minutes.
The next challenge was fighting for position. In the final 2 miles the pace was really slow, and the road clogged with people. Nobody wanted to give up their position up front. You had to look for little gaps and try to squeeze your way up. We didn’t know if we would get the full road for the sprint, so you needed to be near the front to have a chance. I was a little farther back than I wanted to be, but at around 400 meters the motor cycle pulled up and said “it’s all yours!”. This worked out well since I was riding next to the yellow line already. Once I saw a couple of riders move to the left side and start sprinting I followed, and launched up into 3rd place. I timed the sprint well and got a bit lucky by being on the left side.
Next time Matt and I race together, I owe him a lot of work, and hope he can experience the joys of energy conservation and collect a big suitcase full of upgrade points.