Race Report: Louisville Crit SM4
Louisville SM4 race report:
The Louisville Criterium, the second local crit of the 2019 season, saw ten Primal - Audi Denver racers in the 50-man SM4 field. After the early-season jitters got the best of more than one racer struggling to clip in at the start line, the racers were treated to a wide, smooth course with fast turns and solid sight lines. From the gun, Ryan and Jabez were present at the front of the race and stayed put for the majority of the early laps. With only half-assed attacks coming from our adversaries, the Primal - Audi crew comfortably let the other riders burn their matches without becoming too alarmed.
Despite a great course and a general lack of action amongst the peloton, early-season disparities in fitness resulted in nearly 50% of starters being pulled from the course by race officials as they were lapped – a trend which was repeated in other races later in the day. Combined with a significant crash that took out teammate Kyle Dow, 26 of the original 50 starters DNF.
About halfway through the race, the first serious attack of the day was let loose on the slight 1% climb coming out of the slowest corner on course. Followed solely by an unknown rider wearing a previous year's Primal - Audi team kit, the pair gained about 10 seconds on the field in one lap. Under the impression we had a teammate up the road in a two-man break, we communicated with each other to carefully control the pace at the front of the race, allowing the gap to widen to 30 seconds.
Only when it became clear with five laps to go that we were now racing for 3rd place did Darren surge to the front of the pack and put the hammer down on the very same uphill section, with Jabez immediately glued to his wheel. Just testing out his March legs, Darren gave Jabez a strong leadout through the remainder of the lap before pulling off and dropping back to the pack. Jabez, virtually alone 10 seconds off the front of the pack, instantly took over where Darren left off and shook one rival racer before settling in to a pace sustainable for the last four laps.
Alone, the fast corners became even faster as Jabez pedaled through them and stayed as aero as possible in the straights to take the 3rd step on the podium. In the pack behind, Neil placed a solid 9th followed by Swanson, Witt, and Darren. In a strange twist, Jabez would be the only Primal - Audi Denver racer on the SM4 podium this day as it turned out the 2nd place "Primal imposter" wasn't actually on the team any more. A valuable lesson was learned by all cat 4s on this infamous day: never trust last year's kit.