By Jonathan Penaloza
Jeff and I left Davis at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday morning for this one. It’s an out-and-back course just off I-5 in Fresno County, featuring a start/finish on the top of some not insignificant rollers. We arrived to a small field; VuMedi showed up with three guys and a few local club teams were out as well to make a 13 man field. We went into the day with the intent of getting Jeff a result from a small break, and we both knew that any move we made would have to include at least one of the VuMedi guys, and hopefully we could work it to minimize our numbers disadvantage. A break of five was established on the first of our three laps with myself, one VuMedi rider, and three other guys who were very motivated to make it stick. We actually managed to get out of sight at times, which is certainly a challenge on the mostly flat and dead straight course.
We worked silently in a rotation until we hit the start/finish turnaround and saw Jeff and another VuMedi rider bridging a minute or so behind us. The VuMedi rider and I promptly sat up in the break, and while the others complained a little they were too intent on keeping the move together to stop pulling. When Jeff was in sight I dropped back to help pull the two of them back up to us, and once we reached the break again I started rotating through again to placate the two Fresno area club guys and the lone wolf rider. Soon enough though one of the Fresno club guys started complaining that Jeff was sitting in, so I started putting in attacks to get separation and take their minds off who was pulling and who wasn’t. Jeff deftly countered my moves when I was caught, but he ended up getting spit out the back on the rollers before starting the last lap when VuMedi upped the pace shortly after he was brought back from an attack. VuMedi sensed the opportunity and started making the obligatory attack-counterattacks with all three of their guys immediately after, and I was wearing myself thin covering each in succession. Luckily we hit the flats and the headwind discouraged them enough for Jeff to fight his way back up to us again, and less than five minutes later he rolled off the front real casual like with the VuMedi rider from the first break of the day, Jonathan Sandoval. The other two VuMedi riders and I looked at each other and agreed we were happy with the move, and we sat on the fatigued chasers to ensure the move would stay. They inched away steadily until they were out of sight, and we putzed towards the finish knowing our work for the day was done.
Jeff and Sandoval worked together until the 1k sign at the start of the rollers when Sandoval laid in an attack to get separation. Jeff was almost able to regain contact with him, but Sandoval managed to stay away for the finish. Jeff picked up a well-earned second and I came in third. Overall it was a very satisfying and tactically engaging race; we’re happy to have the opportunity to hone our teamwork and are looking forward to bringing our skills to the NorCal scene in the coming weeks and months. Look for us out in force at Snelling and Chico!