We planned a long break down in San Diego and it was a perfect
excuse for some training in good weather and at the end, slip in a
3 day stage race in Murrieta, California with my elder brother,
John. Here is how the event unfolded…
Stage 1 - Individual TT
This was a short stage, only 4.1 miles long, rolling to start
with and then uphill for the final mile on a "well kept" but
We got there fairly early to ride the course and more
importantly test the off road climb. We quickly found out that
"well kept" had been highly exaggerated, coming off line was
treacherous and dangerous. Small boulders littered the road along
with deep, eyeball rattling ruts with the only safe-ish place being
the sand on the far right. This meant taking each of the corners
extremely tight otherwise you could end up being thrown from your
bike quite violently which I nearly found out when practicing. It
seemed you would lose time by attacking this climb and bike
positioning was far more important, it got better towards the top
where gravel lined the road.
Although short, this would be challenging and exciting due to
the different nature of the course. My plan was to hit the paved
section hard, recover up hill and empty the tank for the last 500
meters and it worked! I placed 1st, earning 20 points and the lead
of the GC but what a strange feeling it was - overjoyed at the
win, but it seemed like there was no glory. You just wait to see if
your time is bettered and you obviously can't celebrate as you
cross the finish line!
Stage 2 - Criterium
Both myself and my brother had never raced in a criterium and
with 6 right angle corners over a 1 mile course it made it fairly
technical. We were also both in good positions in the GC and both
not sprinters, so limiting our loses and sitting near the front was
the aim of the game.
The race was 35 minutes long and as expected it was fast and
frantic with a number of crashes, popped tires and everyone
fighting for position. Coming to the last lap I managed to find
myself in a strong position in 2nd wheel going into turn 2, but the
rider in front overcooked turn 4 and went skidding across the
tarmac causing some panic in the peloton.
With us entering the back straight, a powerhouse with thighs the
size of tree trunks went shooting buy and with two corners to go
and I felt I had to go for it in the hope I wouldn't fade. 200
meters to go and one rider went past, then another and I was
clinging on and with only 50 meters left I was expecting the rest
of the field would come screaming past in a frenzy of extortionate
speed which would leave both of us outside the points. But to my
astonishment and surprise I finished 4th, with John 5th! I had
managed to keep hold of the GC, going into the final day - a 40
mile rolling road race of 11 laps, but only by a solitary point.
All we had to do was finish ahead of Festina from San Diego Bike
Stage 3 - Road Race
Looking at the course profile we felt the rolling course suited
us and was ripe for a breakaway. Moment Cycles approached us and an
alliance to suite all parties was made - I would secure the overall
GC, John would finish on the GC podium and Moment would win
the stage. The plan was sound - after 7 laps the Moment
team would up the tempo, force some gaps in the peloton then
sit back enabling myself, John and a couple of Moment guys to get
in a brake. We were desperate for it not to be a sprint finish and
felt it suited us if we went longer.
It was cold at 7.30 am, very cold, but it would warm up soon
towards a sweltering 30 degrees and as we rolled to the start line
the commentator let us know the state of play with Festina
requiring 2 points to secure the GC.
Gently we all rolled out, but within 5 minutes the first crash
happened with someone hitting someone else whilst climbing out of
the saddle, I thought this will be a long day if this carries on!
And for sure it did, a rider inexplicably cut me up which almost
ended my race and half of the peloton, with his side swiping,
erratic move my front wheel was taken from me, my back wheel lifted
into the air but somehow to my relief I stayed upright!
As planned on lap 7, Moment sent some guys to the front and the
tempo was upped, but it wasnt us that made the break and instead of
chancing it we sat back thinking they had broke too early and would
never hold out. Little did we know though, that the 6 man break
formed themselves into a strong unit and organised themselves well.
Their lead steadily grew lap by lap and with time running out,
Moment and ourselves were the only people interested in bringing
the break back and with no other help from any team the break
deservedly succeeded. The peloton was therefore left to fight it
out for 6th place onwards.
Going into the final four corners, the sprint started early with
SDBC getting Festina into a good position, with the rest of their
team (as predicted) blocking my way around I lost his wheel. After
fighting passed I had caught up by the final corner but
by then I had used too much energy and was unable to contest the
sprint. I managed 8th, Festina 6th and the GC was his and SDBC's,
no win for Moment and John secured 4th in the GC. All of our
targets missed, from the high of winning Stage 1 to the low of
this. But, I would by lying if I said I would not have taken this
result before the race started!
On the positive side, the two of us, Team Newsome outscored SDBC
over the 3 days of racing, the biggest bike club in San Diego!