Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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April 17th, 2017

With no team races on the calendar for awhile, two riders of the Aevolo Cycling Team entered races individually. Jason Saltzman participated in the 2nd annual Victorville Omnium, while Michael Hernandez entered the Alabama Cycling Classic.

Saltzman’s Victorville Omnium started out with a 10 kilometer individual time trial, which saw him put in a strong performance and gave him a solid base for the rest of the weekend.

“I finished fourth, to three Kiwis who are guest riding for a local team here in SoCal. The result had me roughly 15 seconds off of the winning time of 12:54, on a 10 kilometer rolling course. Given that it was a short TT, I wasn’t really afraid of going out too hard and blowing up but still managed to pace it beautifully, picking up the pace in the final 2 kilometer and crossing the line sounding like I was going to keel over.”

With Saltzman missing his Aevolo teammates, it was tricky to go for the victory in the road race that followed.

“I was fifth in the road race. I haven’t quite figured out how to win solo while riding against a team of eight – and as the most marked rider in the field.”

“The SoCal Cycling team had 8 or 9 riders in a roughly 40-rider field, so it was clear that they were going to dictate the race. Two of their riders went from the gun and rode a two man team time trial for the remainder of the race. Back in the field, I made multiple attempts to bridge across either solo or with one other rider to no avail. It was hellishly windy which made an otherwise tame course quite selective. The field shattered over the course of the race with a final group of 6 of us coming into the line sprinting for third.”

With his fifth place finish, Saltzman moved up to third in the overall, with just the criterium on Sunday left to retain his GC podium spot. And although some bad luck affected Saltzman, he didn’t let that take him out.

“After the road race, I wasn’t too keen on letting a break go from the gun so I marked the strongest SoCal Cycling riders pretty heavily during the first few laps. Either 6 or 7 laps in, the SoCalCycling rider who was leading the omnium took a flyer. It looked like a strong move and I felt that it was something I could bridge to without killing myself for later in the race if it was brought back. Over the next two laps, I bridged solo.”

“After some initial growing pains, we got organized and quickly built out our gap to around 45 seconds. There were a few times the gap came down to around 30 seconds but it was never in danger of being caught.

We kept rotating extremely well through one lap to go and I had strategically shuffled my way to the back of our group with 3/4 of a lap remaining.”

“I launched hard on the right with half a lap to go and quickly established a 20-25 bike length gap that I feasibly could have held to the line with plenty of time to post up. Unfortunately, as I dive-bombed the second to last corner in hopes of gaining more ground on my pursuers, I hit a lip in the apex of the corner and pinch-flatted. My chance for solo glory disappeared as I was caught by my break mates within seconds.”

Nevertheless, Saltzman was able to hold on to third and finish on the Victorville Omnium podium.

On Saturday, Michael Hernandez lined up in the Sunny King Criterium as the 2016 runner-up. The race was part of the two-day Alabama Cycling Classic. Hernandez too missed his Aevolo buddies in the race.

“Starting this race alone really makes me appreciate the team atmosphere, and made me miss all of my Aevolo brothers.”

A true racer, Hernandez didn’t let their absence faze him during the race.

“The crit started out pretty tame for the first two laps, with all the team leaders who got call-ups waiting for their teammates to meet them up at the front. This also made the race extremely sketchy because we were trying to take corners five to six people wide.”

After three guys attacked and six riders joined them a little later, Hernandez recognised this was the decisive move and solo-bridged across, to become the 10th man in the break.

“We gained a 30 second gap on the field very quickly that eventually crawled out to 50 seconds. Holowesko had three guys represented in the breakaway and had no intention on lapping the field to give the other breakaway riders chances at having teammates. So we rolled steady keeping the gap comfortable but not gaining or losing any time.”

“It wasn’t long until we hit ten laps to go and that was when things got crazy. Nobody wanted to sprint again JP Murphy (from Holowesko) so the attacks came left and right. Once I established myself in the breakaway I had one goal: win the bike race. Because I was by myself it meant I couldn’t let any move go without being represented. Playing this cat-and-mouse game eventually led to the gap coming down rapidly.”

“Fortunately it was too little too late for the field and we stayed away until the line. I was able to manage an eighth place. I was happy with my ride, but was too gassed on the last two laps after chasing to have a sprint.”

Hernandez went into the road race hoping to make it over the eight climbs on the route to go into the sprint with good legs. Unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to show his sprint, as a less elaborate Hernandez explains after the road race:

“I ended up in the second group on the road, and stayed in that group until it split up the main climb with two laps to go. Then I got swallowed by the field, which got pulled on the line with one lap to go. Only 24 riders finished.”