Photography by Kristian Hinders | Words by Giancarlo “GC” Bianchi
Giancarlo “GC” Bianchi | Photo by Kristian Hinders

The Colorado State Crit took place this past weekend. The race was held in Wheat Ridge, a western suburb of Denver. The course featured 6 turns, a 1% drag after the finish line, wide open roads and a great crowd/atmosphere thanks in part to beer fest/food truck party going on in the center of the course. Despite the fact the race was held on the same weekend as Tulsa Tough, there were still 40 starters on the line Sunday, eager to nab a state title.

I gotta be honest, I was feeling a bit apprehensive about the race. Why? Because the race was taking place at 4:30pm and it was forecasted to be in 95 degrees at that time.
“Hey GC, aren’t you from Miami?!”
Yes I am, but I’ve lived in Boulder for well over 3.5 years now and I usually train in the mornings when it’s 50-60 or much colder in the winter. I am in no way acclimatized to heat anymore. That said, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years on how to keep the core body temp down in order to maximize performance. I made sure to use all of them.

The Race
 
The shortage of local strong guys certainly did not make the race any easier. The race started fast and hard. The 0.3 mile 1% uphill drag from the start told everyone whether they warmed up enough or not. Attacks were flying left and right and I was struggling to keep up with it all. When you don’t have a team you need to be pretty judicious with what moves you go with. Go too deep into the red while picking the wrong one will see the race winning move counter off the one you were just in and you have nothing left to respond. 5 minutes into the race my normalized power was already well over my threshold so I decided I needed to chill. It’s a 60 minute crit, on a fast course in 95 degree heat.

It was around this time that I see Daniel Eaton of UHC pro cycling take a flyer. I wasn’t too worried, again, the race JUST started and he has no teammates, surely he can’t hold off the field for 55 minutes. Well, this was just about the time when 3 others jumped off the front. All from teams that had plenty of guys in the pack. It is at this point I became quite concerned. I was too far back to react immediately so I would have to be patient to see where this would go. I kept telling myself, it’s not even 10 minutes into the race, it’s hot af, they won’t stay away. Well…they did, fml.

I did make some attempts to bridge solo but their gap was simply too big at that point and I was stuck in no man’s land for about 2 laps. In the closing laps of the race I kept pushing. I would initiate moves or follow ones that looked promising. With about 8 to go I found myself in move with 3 others. I thought it was perfect, all in now. But the guys in the move couldn’t get organized quickly enough so we were dragged back.

Andrew Levitt of Groove Subaru put in the perfect counter, and thankfully I had the legs to follow, sort of. I will admit I was hurting, this guy is huge and was putting down some big man watts. I was not in a good place; it was hot, I had run out of water and I could taste my lunch I had eaten earlier. Bernat Font Mas of the local 303 UCI pro team bridges to us and with 4 to go, I knew I had to just dig deep to stay with it. With about 2 to go, Sam  AndersonMoxley of Marc pro cycling bridges to us. I looked back and could see the field charging but knew we would stay away.

Sam found himself in the front with 1km to go. He flicked for me to come through, but I am no dummy. The last 500 meters of the race featured 3 of the 6 turns the course had. The final straight was only 100 meters, so I knew the first person out of turn 6 would most likely win. With two turns to go Sam seemingly gives in and decides to lead it out. He starts his sprint after turn 5, about 300 meters to go. I make a run at him, catch his draft and sling shot out. I had less than 100 meters to make this all happen and because of it, was approaching turn 6 with a terrible line.

As I was taking the turn all I could think about was Cipo’s famous saying,
“If you brake, you lose.”
So I got super low in an effort to low my center of gravity and prayed to the bike gods that my tires would see me through this. As I was turning I could also sense that someone was on my right side. I certainty did not want to put anyone in the barriers or cause them to crash, so I was forced to take the turn pretty tight, giving whoever that was a clear enough line to pass, if they had the legs to do so. Once straight I just sprinted straight toward the line and was able to hold off the rest of my chase group compatriots for 5th.
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