Ben reports from Elk Grove

Ben Wolfe sent this report after the Tour of Elk Grove:

Stage 1: Stage One of the Tour of Elk Grove was a 7.2k prologue in the shape of a T. It had three U-turns on the course which meant that if you didn’t corner properly you could lose some very valuable time. Being a prologue on such a short course, riders were sent off in 1:30 gaps, so the Bean Team’s early riders went off at 6 p.m. and the last riders didn’t go off until nearly 7:30 p.m. We all put in good times landing four out of six riders in the top-30 and the Canadian speedster Nic Hamilton finished 5th and B-Rad Huff used his track pursuit expertise to finish 10th.  Sean Mazich was aiming for a great time until a spectator walked onto the course right in front of him as he was barreling down at 30+ mph. Luckily Sean played football in his youth…(We’ll leave it at that).

Stage 2: Stage Two felt as crazy as it looked on paper. The 25 turns per lap, 10 laps and almost 100 miles meant positioning and corning were going to be key. Our team plan was to cover moves and then get Brad and Nic to the last kilometer and then let them “grip it and rip it,” as Nic would say. The race was pretty consistently “on” and attacks were going fast.  However, there were several teams riding for a sprint finish so every move would eventually be brought back. In the last 8km, Sean and I rolled with a group of about 10 riders that had a 15-second gap. A few guys were really driving it to try to make it to the finish while the rest were sitting on hoping to get caught. With about 6k to go, Nic followed a few riders across the gap to make the group 15 riders strong. With three out of six Bean Team riders in the move if it were to stick we had the numbers to finish it off, and if it got caught we were ready to line it up for Brad. At 4k to go the move got caught and it started to get crazy. Everybody was trying to get to the front, every team was battling. I got pushed out and never saw the front again while Brad, Jeremy, Sean, Christiaan and Nic were holding their own. Going into the last kilometer Brad was in the mix and finished 9th on the day! A great effort from the team, but we knew we had to work on some things for the final stage.

Stage3: Stage Three was shorter and had a few less turns in it. We had refined our plan from the previous day and knew exactly what we had to do to get Brad to the line. After a few early moves, Jeremy rolled with a group of about 10 riders that the rest of the field was happy with and the gap quickly grew to 2+ minutes. With about 60km to go, the heavy-hitting teams started chasing to bring it back for a sprint finish. We happily sat there and saved as much energy for the final lap to get Brad into position to do what he does best. With two laps to go the bulk of the break was back in the field with two riders still 30 seconds up the road. We got together and started talking about how we were going to execute our plan based on how everybody was feeling. We knew we had to be the second team going into 5km to go. My job was to do the first big pull to bring the team, and then Jeremy would take over. I fought hard and with 4k to go the team was together and we were moving up. This being my first big-league race, I was nervous and did not like how dicey it gets with all the mayhem of teams trying to be up at the front. Luckily, I had Jeremy behind me telling me exactly what to do and reminding me to take deep breaths (Thanks again, Jeremy!). I brought the team through the first of the final three turns level with the UHC team at the front and then I was cooked. I pulled off and Jeremy took over, then Nic, Sean, Chris and Brad. I could see the last kilometer from where I was riding and Brad was in awesome position, the team had really worked together and done our job. Brad finished it off, taking third place in a very close sprint!

I couldn’t be happier with the way we all came together as a team on the last day to pull off the result. Good luck to all the Bean Team riders shredding their way through Utah this week!

Until next time,

Ben

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