Thanks to everyone for the nice comments! Here's the report:
The sun greeted us today for the GP Camaiore. The race began in normal fashion with a flurry of attacks, and after about 10km, the break was established. Then it was like the race was over! We began riding so slow that I honestly felt a little panicked. As expected though, some teams began pulling, fast! They had to because the gap was all the way out to 13+minutes I think. The race was basically flat besides for the 3km climb we did 6 times, so the pace was high all day. The gap to the break slowly came down until we caught them a few km from the final climb.
The race was a bit of natural selection due to the length and effort of the climb. The first few times up the climb it was a little messy because everyone was fighting for position, but it became apparent by the third time that guys were feeling the effects of the effort. It was kind of neat to see actually! It was still a dog fight the final couple times for the climb, but I was able to position myself pretty well to be in the right place to make the final selection. When we started the climb, I was too far back because I got caught up in the wrong place as guys fought for position, but I stayed calm and made my way through the traffic in the first part of the climb. The climb was steeper for the first km to a switchback, then it flattened a bit, and kicked more again at the end. After the switchback, I put it in the big ring and accelerated toward the front. I was making it to the top 30 when the attacks started in the final km of the climb. I kept my rhythm rolling and dug deep to catch the wheels of the guys in front as the others around me fell off the pace.
At the top of the climb the group was 10-12 guys. It was a small descent and ~1km false flat before the real descent to the finish. Immediately a guy from Katusha attacked with Sagan in tow. The group didn’t react, but I sure didn’t want the race to simply roll away from us right there, so I began to chase a little bit. Others helped a little as we descended. Then we made the left turn onto the false flat and a guy from Androni attacked. I followed, but I missed his wheel, so it was 2-1-1-8 as we went along the false flat. We reeled the two leaders in slowly, but I saw the group from behind was coming, so I eased my pace a little to recover in order to be able to follow as the final surge came to go over the top.
We started the descent with our group all together. Nibali and Sagan were the first two, so I was more than a little nervous knowing how fast they can go downhill. I didn’t have a problem staying with the group though, except for the fact that there was a Katusha guy in front of me who opened a gap that split four of us off from the leaders. At first it wasn’t a big gap, but in the next corner a TV moto got in our way, so the gap went out quickly. I was afraid that was it. Thankfully when we finished the descent the leaders were still within reach, so I was able to chase back on. Then with the group all together, a few guys decided to try an attack in the closing kilometers. I sat tight and followed the wheels. Sagan had a teammate controlling the group, so it was pretty sure to be a sprint. The sprint began, and I feel that I did a good sprint, but it just wasn’t enough. Hindsight is 20/20, and I immediately felt that I could have done it differently to give myself a better chance at the win, but I think I was too excited to think clearly, so before I knew it, I was sprinting. I felt really strong in the sprint, so I think if I had just started my sprint earlier, I would’ve had a great chance to make it, at least podium. As it is I’m still happy with the performance. It is an affirmation that I am on a good track, so hopefully my performance will continue to get better, and I will have more opportunities to get that win. Thanks for checking back.