By: Eric Marcotte
One of my proudest moments. Coming away with the green jersey at Cascade.
We went into the Cascade Cycling Classic with the mindset of stage hunting. Looking at the course profile for each stage, we would likely not be in contention for an overall or high in the GC with the teams and firepower showing up. Instead we focused on individual stages and staying out of trouble.
We did encounter some trouble on the first road race with a few guys touching down. Nothing serious and the guys soldiered on. A bright spot was found with our guest rider, Ryan Wills, being off in the break on the friday Cascade Lakes road race course. In the process, he picked up the Green jersey (points competition) and also attacked his breakaway counterparts holding off the charging field until the last kilometers.
Coming into the Saturday night Criterium, we now had a few cards to play. With Ryan in Green and several sprint points available in the race, as well as other guys being fresh, this race suited our team. Early on the pace was lighting fast and the peleton was strung out. There were sprint points available on lap #10 an I found myself off the front, countering myself to get those points. In the last moment, Carlos ALzate (Team Exergy), came around me and took maximum points.
10 laps later was the next sprint points, and I found myself bridging across to the breakaway solo, going right through them, and nabbing the maximum amount. The break was established and everyone contributed what they could until the next sprint points, which I made sure to get by drilling it and coming across the line first.
Coming into the final 10 laps, the race became tactical, as our break had a maximum advantage of 25-30 seconds, the team directors in the pit area had white boards giving orders to riders in the break and peleton on what to do. Some said to watch for certain riders while others said to sit on. JEsse Anthony (Kelly/Optum) attacked the break for a prime and I quickly countered, for in hindsight was silly, a solo 2 laps. Able to stay on and finish with the same time as the lead group with the eventual winner of the race being Carlos Alzate. That meant we had the same amount of points going into the final race Sunday, however he would be wearing the jersey with a higher placing.
Sundays’ road race is one of attrition. Yet it played out perfectly, and as the days went on and races unfolded, my legs kept getting better. (or should I say, didn’t wear out as fast as others with better recovery). The first lap was full on. As sprint points were available on laps 2,3, and 4 we were going to give it a go head to head with team Exergy and Carlos, if it didn’t work out, then i’d be riding in support of the other riders. Low and behold, I find myself off the front with a committed and dedicated teammate in Christian Helmig and 6 other riders. We held a gap of just over a minute on lap 2 and swelled to a lead of 2 minutes the lap after. I was able to pick up maximum points on the road again, thus ensuring the jersey to be mine. I could not have done it myself. Thank the team and especially Christian for laying it on the line in the break with me.
As the race played out, I had a brief moment of cramping up one of the hills, thus dropping me off the pace. As it released I was able to regain power, yet chasing the likes of Tom Zirbel (kelley/optum), Chris Baldwin (Bissell), Josh Atkins (Livestrong) and Matt Cooke (Exergy). I was able to hold a good tempo and be absorbed by what was left in the peleton with 15K to go. Immediately I brought the rest of the team near the front as we entered the final climbs of the Awbrey Butte Course. I held position for the boys, then pealed off as my job was done. Finishing 4 minutes back of the winner.
This has been an incredible year and time with these guys. As always, the team and mechanics were spot on. As well as our gracious host, Brian Laird, allowing us time in his place and the top of Skyliners road. What a great place to stay. Very grateful to have had the opportunity like this.