Dean Phillips 1st at Wayne Elliot Circuit Race, Race Report
Wayne Elliot Memorial Circuit Race – 1st place in the Cat 4 field
5 laps of a 6.3 mile circuit in Merrimac, MA. The circuit consisted of a short uphill section into a head wind, then some rolling back roads before the long descent approaching the finish line.
We had just over 60 riders pull up for the start with a lot of familiar faces. I was so marked by everybody there were jokes being tossed around before the start about when I was attacking, why I was still a Cat 4, etc. (For the record – NEBRA denied my early Cat 3 upgrade request after Marblehead)
We rolled out and I tried to stay in the top 10 riders or so from a safety standpoint and to keep my options open. I didn’t want to go in an early move since there was quite a bit of wind and the field appeared strong. The first few laps I made a bunch of surges on the tougher sections and in response to some early breaks. If everybody was going to sit on my wheel and/or immediately chase my attacks, then maybe this tactic would wear them down. It seemed to work as by the 3rd lap a couple guys were joking to me about how quiet and tired the group was on the back stretch. The strong guys that seemed to have my wheel within seconds of earlier attacks, were now taking longer to get on it or waiting for other riders to help.
Every lap there seemed to be a solo or 2-3 rider breakaway go off the front and get 20-30 seconds on the rest of the pack. With 2 laps to go a few guys got off the front and when they got enough of a gap I decided to bridge up to them. Of course I brought with me a couple marksman who’d been sitting on my wheel the whole race, but at least this was an opportunity to get away from the main group if they were willing to work. We bridged up to the breakaway group with a couple rotations, but in turning the corner toward the downhill a few of the guys from the break were spent and fell back. I got to the downhill with one rider left – Nicholas Kirsch from Noreast Cycling – and the gap to the main group was growing. He took a good pull before I took over for the descent, but he then got detached midway down. There was a cross-tailwind that voided some of the typical draft benefit of the descent. When I realized I was alone, I settled into time trial mode and eventually got out of site. I hit the uphill headwind section hard, and when I turned the corner and looked back I saw the beautiful sight of an open road.
I enjoyed the final lap and finished with a 2 minute gap on the bunch sprint. Clearly they’d sat up and waited for the finishing sprint once I got away. I was really happy to win the race, and now I have enough points to upgrade. I sent in a new upgrade request Sunday night, and on Monday got confirmation of my upgrade to Cat 3. I’m racing the Blue Hills Classic in the Cat 3 field next weekend.