Brendan Larkin Wins Stanford Road Race – Report

Photo by Yao Saeturn

Photo by Yao Saeturn

When I crossed the finish line first at the Stanford road race with enough time to sit up and take in the moment, I hadn’t been the strongest rider for the past three hours. That is the frustrating beauty of cycling, the strongest doesn’t always win, the smartest and the one with a little (or a lot) of luck usually gets to salute.

I rolled away in the first mile with a Stanford rider and the pack sat back for what sounded like a tempo ride. Another Stanford guy bridged with the lone Santa Barbara guy in the race. It was breakaway as usual for the next few hours. I chose to lead up the climbs to set the pace and let the rest work more on descents and flat roads. I really started hiding from the wind on the hideous head wind section once we had established a 7 minute lead.

With approximately twenty miles to go we dropped the SB rider. I was initially pleased, but this lead to a barrage of attacks from the Stanford duo. I actually welcomed these attacks, because they didn’t put me in trouble and I could refuse to work after they began. One attack almost got me when both riders got up the rode, but I grit my teeth and latched back on the group. (rule #1 of breakaways, never get dropped)

Coming into the finish, the primarily downhill and tailwind ten miles made closing attacks easy. We got an update from the moto-ref that a chase group was beginning to gain on us, so we started to work together again to make the break survive. I continued to sit on the most, with one Stanford kid doing the lion’s share of the work and his teammate appearing to be queuing up for the sprint.

I seemingly ruined the parade for the Stanford twosome when I attacked on the final hill with 1.5 miles to go. I was certain that one Stanford rider would chase, and the other would pass me, leaving me with a respectable 2nd. However, once I realized that I actually had a chance, the final moments of suffering were easy. With a football field length to go, I recognized that I had struck the lethal blow and soft pedaled across the line.

I don’t think my attack or tactics would have a high success rate over time, but sometimes everything just falls in place and that is what makes cycling a beautiful sport.

Thanks so much for everyone’s support this weekend and thanks to boss man John Tomlinson for putting some unwarranted faith in me. Let’s keep notching up the W’s.

Fight On!

Brendan Larkin

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