I’ve done a lot of criteriums but this one was one to remember! Here’s the story: Sunday September 9, 11:15 am, a downtown type course, 1 Km long, 7 corners, 35 laps, Masters National Criterium Championship race. Nearly 2 hours later, we finally finished!
My race was nearly over after the first corner when I tried to shift to the big chainring, heard 2 clicks, and the shift lever broke off and fell in the road! Still in the small ring and the field pulling away, I shifted the rear derailleur into the 11 cog and luckily the chain went up to the big ring. I closed the gap to the field pretty quickly and after a few laps made it up near the front.
There was one corner that looked like trouble right from the start: a fast downhill with a tailwind that narrowed into a tight right turn onto a narrower street and a high curb. About midway through the race a rider went down in that corner behind me and the race was neutralized while they got an ambulance on the course and the rider loaded out on a backboard with road rash and something broken in his shoulder.
After 20 minutes or so, we restarted with 15 laps to go. With 2 to go and four riders in front of me, the first rider went down in the same corner and took 3 others with him, including John Elgart, the Road Race winner and eventual winner here. I’m the first one through still upright and now I’m on the front with 1 lap to go and not looking back! We went like crazy to open up a gap on the rest of the field but the race was again neutralized for the ambulance- broken shoulder blade- backboard-rider removal routine.
They put 5 laps back on the board and we restarted again with 3 crashed riders back in the field and 1 on the way to the ER. On the “last lap” I came out of the last corner in perfect 3rd position with John Elgart leading it out but halfway through the sprint the wave us off again as someone has crashed on the backside of the course. I’m still not sure why the neutralized the race this time but they did.
So, we restart, again, with 2 laps back on the board and a mad dash to get in good position – this time not as good but I managed to pass a few riders for 5th place and a podium spot for the wildest race that I can remember!