Santa Cruz Classic Win

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Race Report by: Travis Retzer
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium, E3 3/20/16

Charlie with the win
Charlie Velez – Back to back wins

When the discussions began to emerge regarding this race, I was far from excited to jump in and commit to racing it.  To say that crits have been a monkey on my back would be an understatement.  And here they’re trying to convince me to jump into a technical “crit’s crit”; what are they thinking?!  I had my sights set on the Red Kite Tempus Fugit TT, which was the same day, and also just so happened to be in my back yard.  The thought of sleeping in on a race day was pretty damn nice.  After multiple text messages of shaming, and a long-lost teammate coming to stay at our house for the weekend, I begrudgingly committed to Santa Cruz.

Before I know it, it’s Sunday morning and I’m pinning up my Castelli San Remo getting amped to race.  I look up from the parking lot, with a prime-time view of the downhill 120 degree off camber turn for which this course is famous.  You can hear the squeal of fresh brake pads on the carbon wheels as riders drop in.  Now I’m getting jacked to race!

We line up, with a short and simple game plan: start up front, stay up front, get in a break, and win this race. The whistle blows and Nate and I instantly hit the front.  I follow Nate’s line as we drop into and through the hairpin.  We come around for the climb to the start/finish and I suddenly know this is going to be a bad-ass race.

Break attempts are being made but they keep getting reeled back.  I attack on the climb about 10 minutes in, but it doesn’t stick.  Shortly after, Nate goes with a move and again it comes back.  We roll through the start/finish about 20 minutes in and then the decisive move happens…and at the perfect time.

A strong SJBC rider hits the throttle and takes off.  Sensing an opportunity (see video link), Charlie takes off for the bridge.  At this point a strong looking rider wearing a Specialized kit attacks to bridge giving them 3 up the road, this move looks like it could be one that sticks.

Now it’s time to shut this race down.  Nate and I move to the 1-2 position in the group and are on a mission to take this race over.

Riders make moves, but we cover them all.  I kept hearing the announcer say, lap after lap, “the gap remains at 30 seconds, and the black kits of the Data Driven Athlete racers are all over the front controlling this one.”  Nate continued doing what Nate does; covering move after move, while I’m trying to give him some reprieve.

Nate and me up front
Nate and Travis, controlling the field.

I hit the front on the last lap, determined to set a pace that’s going to discourage anyone from attacking.  As we enter the hump before the climb, I feel myself starting to pedal squares.  I hear Nate yell, “get outta there” trying to keep me out of the scrum/danger that comes with a sprint finish.  We make the final turn, shoot off to the right, and finish the race in the pack.

We get the word Charlie took the sprint (in junior gears), and we are pumped!  Mission accomplished: Charlie wins, we control the race, and another solid outing for the Data Driven Athlete Racing team.  Kudos to Charlie for having the strength to get out front and hold onto a 30 second gap for 30 minutes.  Thanks to my teammates for the push I needed to race this one.  I’m so glad I raced it, my new favorite crit!

Santa Cruz Classic Criterium E3 Podium
Santa Cruz Classic Criterium E3 Podium – Race Rim wheels with the assist

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