Kamal’s Men’s C Crit at Columbia

I was pretty nervous going into this weekend because due to respiratory problems, I had been unable to finish my crit last weekend. My plan for the race was to contest the prime sprints*, with the intention of getting extra pack-sprint practice. Also, while C crits tend to be somewhat unpredictable, I wanted to try to work with David at the finish in case the race came down to a pack sprint.

The starting pace of the race was pretty high. As the pack strung out on the climbs and the turns, I had to make a few really hard bridging efforts. However, the pace dropped after a couple of laps and I managed to stay with the leading group. The pace surged occasionally due to attempted attacks, but they were sufficiently infrequent that the pace of the leading group was manageable. As the race progressed, I made a deliberate effort to figure out how to position myself for the last couple of laps — I had been hanging out mostly on the back of the front group, but I knew I would have enough energy to contest the sprint. The C field isn’t very good at cornering, so in order to maintain momentum, I wanted to make sure I could pick a line which would allow me to advance. The course features a little hill after a corner, and I knew I wanted to carry as much speed as possible into that particular corner, so that I could advance through the pack during the brief climb.

Fortunately, when the second-to-last lap rolled around, I was able to follow the plan I had made, and I was near the front of the pack for the last lap. I managed to make contact with David (who had responsibly stayed near the front of the lead group and thus didn’t realize I was still in that group). Together we worked up to the front for the sprint, and (in an awkward kind of switching leadout), we outpaced the rest of the pack. David took second and I took third, and we were first/second in the pack sprint (there was a rider off the front, which I managed not to realize despite yelling teammates on the sidelines).

*I never heard the bell for a prime lap.

David Koppstein and Kamal Ndousse contest the field sprint
David Koppstein and Kamal Ndousse contest the field sprint (photo by Jan Valerie Polk)