Southside Sprints: MN State Criterium Championships

The course featured plenty of turns and formed a “L” shape that made the course exciting and fun. In my eyes, the more turns the better, and I love it when the course is technical enough to string out the field. It makes for a much more aggressive┬árace where positioning really counts, but also sets up some potential for a good breakaway to happen.

It was a hot one at the start of the race and after dowsing myself in water after the warm up, I headed to the line. Once the gun went off, we charged towards the first corner which was at the top of a small incline. The group stayed together for the first few primes as everyone was getting used to their legs, and then the fireworks started as people got a bit more tuned up for the peak of the race.

My goal for the day was to hopefully snag the win, and my legs were feeling good to give it a shot. I had a lot of positive energy during the warm up so I decided to race aggressively and see if I could help drive a breakaway until the end of the race. With around 15 laps to go, that’s exactly what happened. There was a solo attack that went at the beginning of the lap by a strong rider (Kesha Zavyalov) in the group. I knew his riding style, so I was very intrigued to bridge and then work together to give it our best shot to hold it to the end. I jumped on the incline after the start/ finish line and got clear. After I was clear I railed every corner and sprinted every straight to bridge and ended up connecting in about a half lap. Once together, Zavyalov and I worked as a pair as best as we could to hold off the strong teams in the race.

With not much length left in the race, the pack had regained contact. Both Zavyalov and I were tired, but we knew that we had to stay near the front so we wouldn’t get caught in the pack. Trying to catch everyone by surprise, I attacked again with 3 to go. I got a gap but Brandon Krawczyk quickly closed and sat on my wheel, and ended up bringing the pack with him. At that time Zavyalov came around and went for another move but everyone was able to latch on and stay in contact with the front of the group. With Zavyalov continuing to drive a blistering fast pace, I moved onto his wheel in preparation for the sprint. Coming into the final corner of the race, I realized I was not in the best position. Zavyalov just drove 2 hard laps of the race, and I was sitting on his wheel. Either that means that he will sprint and potentially fade, theoretically working for me and giving up his placing, or he will pull aside and try and hold any wheels that come around him in order to try and come back for the sprint. In this case, he pulled aside and I was left with leading out the sprint with Krawczyk on my wheel. With no way out, all I could do was watch Krawczyk and wait for him to sprint. Once he did, I hit it as hard as I could with everything I had left in attempt to hold him off. With only a couple bike lengths to the line, Krawczyk gave it one more kick to solidify his win and I came in a close second. Phew!

Overall it was an awesome race. I rode aggressively during the day, and that’s exactly how I wanted to race, making it both exciting and fun! Even though I didn’t quite have the gas in the end, I was still happy with my effort. What a day!

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