The team attended the Sea Otter Classic from April 16-19. This was our first year attending the race as a team and the event most certainly lived up everything we had heard. Not only was racing on the Laguna Seca Raceway a truly amazing experience, but the Sea Otter Classic is so much more than just a bike race. The expo and events that go along with the races are so exhilarating that it almost makes the bike race portion a secondary experience. We made the most of it and spent as much time as we could exploring all the cool products and taking in the sights. One of the main highlights for us was the number of our sponsors that were in attendance. It’s always priceless to have personal time with our sponsors, so we had a ball spending some quality time with Champion System, Stan’s NoTubes, Kask, Bont, IRC, Tifosi and Clif Bar.
Below please find some picture highlights of our sponsor visits and a brief race report of the three road events.
The first day of racing at the Sea Otter Classic was the criterium. The course featured several U-turns and straight-aways. Two of the U-turns were very tight, resulting in speeds of maybe five mph going through the turn. When I was still approximately five seconds from making the turn, I saw a single file line of riders sprinting by me going the other direction. After a few failed attempts to move up, there was a tangle of bars that led to a close call in front of me coming out of the corner that brought a couple of riders to a complete stop. We got going quickly, but the group was rapidly riding away ahead of us. My group never caught back on, but I watched once I was pulled as the team rode an aggressive race. We were in almost every move that tried to slip off the front on multiple occasions. After all the aggression, the field settled for a sprint. The boys set up a nice lead-out for Demis, but going through the last U-turn someone dived on Demis' inside and caused him to crash. Geron kept himself upright behind Demis for a 7th place finish.
The road race was second. It was a lollipop shaped course with eight loops of a 7.8 mile counterclockwise circuit. The circuit featured two solid climbs. Almost immediately, Gavi got into a small group off the front. The team ride close to the front behind a chasing H&R block train. Gavi's group was caught with 3 laps to go at the bottom of the first climb. As his group was caught, the field exploded with attacks in an attempt to make a new move. A split formed that found all of our team in the second group at the top of the climb. At the top, I gave everything I had to get our riders back to the front group. We eventually caught the front group and regrouped, but another small group had separated itself by that time into what was to be the winning move. I was cooked after that effort, but was able to hang on to the field until about 4 miles to the finish line, the second to last climb of the race. We still had two riders in that group at the finish, Fabio and Bryan, who both finished within the top-25.
The last day of racing was the circuit race. This loop was about two miles and featured a two minute climb and an exciting, high-speed cork-screw descent where we reached speeds of 50mph. This race was also aggressive, with moves going almost every lap up the climb. Our plan going into the race was to keep the race together the best we could by following moves. We had some guys in early moves but all of them came back before the half-way point in the race. Eventually a solid move formed with Fabio and Gavi in it, but they were not with the leaders at the finish. Fabio managed to win their group for 11th place with Gavi grabbing 15th. I sprinted from the field with a little lead-out from Tino and Bryan for 28th.