1st Place at Tacchino!
Race #5 in the Mabra Cyclocross Series took place on a warm day down in Upper Marlboro, MD. An unfamiliar track faced the racers in the 2009 Tacchino Ciclocross. The Squadra Coppi Cycling Team's annual race had been contested in previous years in Leesburg, VA. A short, uphill sprint on the pavement kicked the race off. Neal Sapp took the holeshot but a good start put me right on his wheel. He was keeping a solid pace so I was happy to hold my position throughout much of the first lap. A first-lap prime (a free tire-glueing at Conte's Bike Shop) was up for grabs so I decided to slip around Neal on the back side. While pre-riding the course earlier that morning I noticed that it could be difficult to pass in the finishing section. There was a couple of 180 degree turns followed by a fast sweeping downhill on grass before you hit the pavement for a short sprint to the line. I wanted to test my theory early in the race and go for the prime. The move was a good one because I had no problem holding the chasers off until the line. The next couple laps saw the field shatter and the riders in the lead group rotate on the front. The pace was not painfully high. No one made any hard attacks to get away. I was content to let it play out and ready for any moves. With a lap to go, the pace started to pick up. I jumped after one attack and found myself on the front early in the last lap. I wanted to keep a good pace but did not want to go into the red too much and be ready for the finish. No one tried to pass. I think everyone was content to let me lead for a bit. There was a few sections were you could get a draft so they were waiting to pass later. I just kept the pace going at a solid speed. The race was single file as we neared the backside. I knew if I could just get to that technical finish I would be hard to beat. I began to get closer and closer. Neal Sapp was close behind chasing in and out of each corner. I was concerned about one area...a slightly uphill, wide-open grass section. I poured on the gas to make sure Neal did not pass. I took the right lines at the finish while Neal could only follow. I hit the pavement with speed and had no problem holding it to the line for the win (and the Ommegang Tacchino Jersey!).