Rider Diary: On the Road with Sergio Hernandez, Team Predator – Cigar City Brewing Criterium & Festival

Team Predator Carbon Repair’s Sergio Hernandez and teammates Emile Abraham, Jean-Michel LeChance recently competed in the National Criterium Calendar’s (NCC) Cigar City Brewing Criterium & Festival, in Tampa, Florida last weekend. The Cigar City Brewing Criterium & Festival was Round 2 of the National Criterium Calendar. With $15,000 on the line,  Sergio animated the race and shares the exciting play by play, along with a front row seat to the ups and downs of bicycle racing.

By Sergio Hernandez “Team Predator Carbon Repair”

Round 2 of the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) was held this last weekend in sunny Tampa, Florida in an amazing venue in the Downtown area. The race started late in the evening with big crowds lining the course, which was the perfect atmosphere for “Big Time” crit racing.

After Round 1 of the National Criterium Calendar In Tuscon, AZ saw “Team Predator” leave empty handed, we were looking to be aggressive and get our name out there and show the other teams that we’re here for a reason.

After taking in the National Anthem, rubbing the road for good luck and a lil’ dirt bike sound effects “Braaaaapp braaapppp braaaap” the gun went off and with a $250 prime on the very first lap it was a rude awakening to the legs. After a few laps, with the legs starting to get adjusted and the tires getting nice and warm, I punched out for the first time opening a pretty good looking gap.

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Photos © Mike Mackay

The first significant break of the day was starting to form and with the third United Healthcare rider getting across to the break with a few others the break was 12 deep. The break opened up a hefty gap quickly with UHC doing the brunt of the work. Team Smart Stop-Mountain Khakis was on the defensive after missing the break and was putting in a mean chase. The pressure was starting to wear on the break and we started losing our lead and eventually got absorbed.

Booooom, I go again! This time with Hilton Clark of UHC and a few others and we stay away for about 5 laps. Then the counter came with my Team Predator Carbon Repair teammate Emile Abraham. Counter attack after counter attack, the race was getting good and the pace was ruthless. The crowd was getting a hell of a show, and it was only a matter of time before the rubber band snapped and a real attack would stay away!

As I assume a stillness happen in the field, everyone was cracked and there’s no better time than then to go, if you have the legs. As the thought crossed my mind to go, Hilton Clark beat me to the punch with two Garneau-Quebecor riders on his wheel. The next two to make a move was myself and Frank Travesio of Smart Stop-Mountain Khakis and we got across.

There was one United Healthcare, one Team Predator, two Garneau-Quebecor, one Smart Stop-Mountain Khakis, and one EBP Racing. The perfect combination of teams in the break and the race was made. After about 15 lap we lapped the field and my team was there to escort me straight to the front of the race. UHC and Mountain Khakis had full rosters and there were only 3 of us so we had to be patient and smart and wait for the right moment to make our move.

Sadly our move was never to be made. Sitting at around 12th wheel with four laps to go a few riders beside me over lapped wheels and caused a huge wreck on turn one. The next thing I knew, my head was bouncing off the road and I ended up sitting there in a daze. Putting together what had just happened and knowing there would be no more free laps I quickly got up, untangled my bike with another and jumped on my bike, tweaked shifter, seat, bars and all. With a $15,000 prize list on the line 6th would have paid out just fine so I was off to salvage the hard work that I had put in during the entire day. I pedaled like HELL, but was caught just before the last turn. UHC blew past me around the last turn losing the race and losing 6th place and coming in 18th place.

Disappointment is all I could say really. Having an awesome race making the winning move and then booooom coming away with nothing. This sport can be ruthless and mean like a strong headwind, but like a strong headwind there’s always a strong tailwind and thats where I’m headed.

Next week will be Round 3 of the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) at Delrey Beach Twilight Festival, see ya’ll there!

Thanks for reading.

Rider Diary by Sergio Hernandez, Team Predator Carbon Repair

Top Photo Courtesy Predator Cycling

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