This past weekend we kicked off our season at the Spring Fling Crit in Lawrence. I was pretty nervous all morning going into the race, which is pretty typical for the first few races of the season for me. Kent, Scott, Ian, and I all rode out to Lone Star before the race to get a longish warmup in, and by the time we got back to Clinton Lake I was much more relaxed than I had been earlier in the day. Austin met up with us at the start line. With the nice weather, there was a decent turnout, with 31 starters towing the line.
The race was pretty calm at the beginning. In the past, the first few laps of the Spring Fling have been some of the hardest that I will do all year, but this year we kind of eased into it. After about three laps, the first attack went up the road with little reaction from the field. He dangled about 5-10 seconds up the road for about a lap and a half before there was any sort of response from anyone. Connor Brown (Gateway Harley Davidson) was the first to counter coming through the start/finish and I was on his wheel so it was easy to cover. The two of us have been in quite a few breakaways together as we have moved up through the categories, so getting away with him I thought had a decent chance of sticking. The next time around the bell rang signaling a prime lap so I did a quick check to see where the field was. I could see Kent trying to bridge so I let Connor do the majority of the pulling that lap so Kent could make it up to us. I took the prime and waited for Kent to latch on
Once Kent joined, the three of us worked together to increase our lead on the chasing field. Coming into 20 laps to go we got the bell for another prime and I took my pull early so that Kent could lead us out going into the final couple of corners. I sat on Connor’s wheel going into the last corner and won the preme by a bike throw. We waited for Kent to rejoin and continued to share the workload pretty evenly. We had about 25-30 seconds on the chase group at this point so I knew with the three of us working together, it was pretty unlikely that the chase group of five would catch us.
The next prime was with ten laps to go, and I knew that if I won this one, that I would for sure have first place solidified since the Spring Fling is a points based race. Again, Kent led it out going into the final two corners, and I was able to slip past Connor at the end. At this point the only goal was to keep the pace steady so that the chase group wouldn’t catch us. Despite having the advantage in points over Connor, he put in an Ian Stannard-esque move coming into three laps to go. Kent had just finished a turn at the front, so I had to react quickly to reel him back in. When we caught Connor, Kent attacked, and once Connor reeled him back in I put in a hard dig and was able to hold it until the finish. It was a fun way to end the race, so props to Connor for mixing things up in the final laps.
I’d like to thank Kent for the work he did to get himself up to the break and help me take the win. Also, thanks to Scott, Ian, and Austin for the work they did marking moves that helped us keep our advantage up the road.
Down in Arkansas, Garrick and Benn took 3rd and 4th representing KU at a collegiate road race.
Next weekend we head to Texas for the Tour of Corsicana. It’s a two day stage race. A few of us are staying for a few days after the race to get in some good training during our Spring Breaks.