HBSC rider Michael Prater won the 2013 State Road Race Championship over the last weekend. Congratulations Michael!
In his own words:
"I thought I'd send a race recap to you two so you can see how a "sprinter" can still win with a hill! The course started with a 2.5 neutral section then turned into three loops of about 11 miles each then 8 miles to the finish. I did not get time to preride the course, but knew there was a hill by looking at the past Strava results. Most hills in Cincy go from the river to the top of the bluff and rarely give you more than 300 feet of elevation gain, no problem right?
The first lap was uneventful as the entire pack of 33 cruised along. We were a mixed field of 4/5 masters #100 series were the 11 "young" guys at 30-39 and the #200 were the 22 older 40-49. You only race against your number group. as we rolled up to the hill, several guys were already talking about the impact the big hill" will have on the field. I started in the middle of the pack as we made the left up the hill. It's about twice as long as the Gig Harbor hill and has several ramps that put you in the 25 but it was no issue for me, and I ended up about 5th at the very top. We bombed the descent and continued around to the hill again. Based on how comfortable I went up the first time, I wanted to start in the top 5 at the base, to be ready to stick with any strong guys who tried to get away. I actually went into the next climb in third, and about 1/4 of the way up five of us had a 30m gap when we were neutralized! In the middle of the climb! The 50+ lead group caught and passed us on the hill. They slowed our entire group up so much, even the 10 guys dropped on the flats caught us!
Now I knew the last time up the hill was going to be decisive and tough, so I planned to be in the top five with about 2 miles to the base, since it sped up consistently before the climb and wanted to be safe and in good position. We rolled into the climb for the last time and two guys zipped of the front to make four in front of me. I followed but their pace was a touch too hot for me. I was in my 21 cranking up the hill knowing I'd get some respite on the rollers at the top, two more guys came by then one more at the top. I was SUFFERING on the rollers (no rest!) and there was a group of four in the lead with two individual stragglers each about 20m away from each other. I knew I had to catch these guys, as being in no mans land on the flats was not going to be pleasant and my only chance for the jersey was catching them. I pushed over the descent to use my AC-1's aero advantage when the guy in front of me (a #200) flatted. I did 3 min at 400w on the downhill (my hardest 3 min of the race!) to catch the group of now 5 just as we made it to 8 miles to go. Much to my delight I was the only #200 in the group! The jersey was mine as long as we were not caught!
There were two teams of two and another loner in the group and they were all willing to work. I had to give them some Rich McLung coaching on how to paceline tight and even got them to change rotation direction due to a wind change. We averaged about 25mph on the way to the finish line where I wished them all good luck and told them to be safe in the sprint. I shifted into the little ring and cruised in for the win and an uncluttered photo op.
The other solo rider won despite sprinting on his hoods and being outnumbered. There were zero "team" based attacks leading into the finish like I expected which is pretty ridiculous since the guy who was second, was the strongest rider, and I even told his teammate that he should attack. The thing that sticks out to me was that my best time up the hill were the last lap, where it was almost 4 min at 360w followed by 1/2 mile of "rest" then another 4 min effort down the hill to catch the group that sealed the deal. It's fortuitous that the other #200 flatted, but I'm confident in my sprinting that I'd have taken him, or worked with the strong guy to attack the group and leave him."