Over the last several years the Winston Salem Classic has been growing in prominence. For 2014, the race was added to the official UCI calendar, making it a major race for all of the domestic teams and several international teams. Winston Salem is the home town of our team's Sports Director Thomas Craven. It's also the home base of the SmartStop Team, so both teams had a little extra motivation to put on a show for the crowds.
Our team went into the race feeling relaxed and well fueled. Locals Thorns and Perry Craven (Thomas's parents) and their neighbors took excellent care of the boys in the days leading up to the race. They opened their homes and refrigerators up to the team, providing them with the environment they needed to race at their best. A big "thank you" to these wonderful hosts.
The first several laps of the 7.7 mile circuit race saw several unsuccessful attacks. Because of the 107 mile length and difficulty of the hilly course it would come down to a race of attrition. Halfway through the race, Oscar Clark and two other eventually made it into the first successful breakaway. Nine other riders eventually joined Oscar's group, but after several laps away the escapees were reabsorbed by the field.
Several hours of hard racing eventually whittled down the 200 plus race starters to around 75 guys. In the last several laps, this group was shattered into several small packs of riders with the lead bunch containing around 30 riders. Hincapie Devo was well represented in this group with seven guys making the split. By the final lap, the leaders were again split into a group of 18, containing three Hincapie riders (Joe Lewis, Alexander Ray and Ty Magner) and four SmartStop guys. Our plan was to capitalize on the strength of our riders and wait until the final sprint. SmartStop had a different plan with Travis McCabe jumping the group on the steep Pilot View Climb. Joe Lewis followed the attack, but just didn't have enough road left to close the gap and rolled across the line for second place.
The Winston Salem Classic turned out to be one of the most exciting races of the year so far. The team rode really well together and not only did Joe earn the 2nd step on the podium but was also awarded the KOM jersey while Alexander Ray was giving the Sprinters jersey.
The team is now headed out to New Mexico for the Silver City Tour of the Gila for one of the most challenging races of the year. Several of the guys will make a quick detour to Athens Georgia for the famous Twilight Criterium, a hugely popular event for south east cycling fans.
Oscar Clark leads the breakaway up Pilot View Hill
Alexander Ray's aggressive riding earned him the Sprinter Jersey
Joe Lewis finished 2nd overall and took home the KOM award