Here’s the situation: you make what looks to be the winning breakaway. But quickly you realize that if you keep working at the same pace you’re likely to be dropped from the break.
What do you do? Sit on and be a wheel-sucker, or continue to work and most likely get dropped?
This was the dilemma at the “G20 Summit Criterium” over in Pittsburgh. Early in the race, after chasing a couple of attacks I found myself in a 3-man break that included a guy (Clayton Barrows) who had good results at last week’s UCI-level Univest Grand Prix. That’s no Tuesday night training race. The other guy was Ruggery of Freddie Fu, another strong rider.
I knew I was in trouble from the beginning. I could feel that I hadn’t recovered enough from chasing the first couple attacks. I sat on at first and tried to recover. Then started to help. But after a few more laps I was having trouble following wheels on the uphill part of the course.
There are some who would say you should keep working. If you get dropped, well that just meant the other guys were stronger. But bike racing isn’t just about who is stronger. As I see it, getting dropped from the breakaway is a cardinal mistake. Especially when you have teammates back in the field working for you. The last thing they want to see is one of their jerseys going backwards.
So I stopped working. I don’t like doing that, and I know I’ve given other guys a hard time for it (yeah, that is part of racing too). The other 2 tried to get me to work, but I just said, “sorry, I can’t”. I was determined not to get dropped, if it was humanly possible.
And for a while, I wasn’t sure whether it was humanely possible. My hope was that the pace would ease up the closer we got to the end. Which it did, enough so that I started to help out again. After which Barrows attacked us and rode away solo to the finish. I didn’t contest the sprint for 2nd (though I don’t think it would have mattered even if I did).
Was it a satisfying result? Yes and no. No, because I don’t like not working in a break. But yes, because I avoided the worst case of getting dropped, and managed to get our team a spot on the podium. But I feel like I want to qualify the result by saying, “yeah, I was 3rd but I almost was dropped about 5 times … “