Rider Diary: On the Road with Sergio Hernandez, Predator Carbon Repair – Sunny King Criterium

The 2013 Season continued this last weekend In Anniston, Alabama where Predator Carbon Repair had another successful weekend making the podium and stabilized their name in the US Pro Circuit. Representing  Predator Carbon Repair over the weekend was Emile Abraham, JM LaChance, Gevan Samuel, Joshua Carter, Cesar Grajales, and Sergio Hernandez.

Sunny King Criterium 

Saturday’s Sunny King Criterium was the fifth round of the National Racing Calender held in downtown Anniston. The crowd at the race was quite different from the past rounds held in Florida where it was more of a party atmosphere. The race was part of the Noble Street Festival which was more of a family atmosphere where kids with face paintings and their parents lined the sideline. Also, the event was broadcasted live on the internet (watch the replay SoCalCycling.com) which gave many the chance to tune in and experience the race in the comfort of their homes.

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Starting off on the second row right behind the call ups, I was ready to race but when the gun went off I had seemed to forget how to clip in. Going from the second row to the second to last guy, the guy behind me was nice enough to give me a push until I managed to get my cleat in the pedal. Not a good start and even worse the legs all of a sudden got really heavy. On top of that, I had too much PSI in my tires for this course, but it was too late and I had to deal with the 120 PSI I had in my Vittorias. As the first lap was over and putting myself some what together, I noticed a solo rider with a huge gap so I decided to stretch the legs and go after him and after a lap on the front the lone rider was back. Then a flurry of attacks from all the major teams began exploding from the field. I don’t know if it was my rough start or making that early effort, but I just couldn’t follow any of the moves and the rest of Predator Carbon Repair seemed to feel the same way because we were absent in all of the breaks during the first 20 minutes. Josh Carter, Cesar and I were forced to keep busy at the front chasing the dangerous breaks and the counters kept coming.

Finally JM launched an attack and we were able to rest as he was off the front for a few laps, collecting a prime along the way. More attacks and Predator Carbon Repair was back making and following moves. About half way through the race my legs came around and it was the time to go, the pace was high and there’s no better time to go than when everyone is at their limit. Pretending to push the NOS button on my bike I launched the attack and I was committed! I wasn’t looking back! Red lining for a full lap I looked behind me to see the damage and I was happy to see a nice gap with six other riders, all the major teams represented. This was it! I was committed with a few others, but Karl Menzies (United Healthcare) and the guy from Smart Stop were soft pedaling. I began debating the situation when I noticed a small ground just behind and new this was a good thing. The chase group made contact, but the effort was a bit much for a few and the break shuffled but not to my advantage. There was now two UHC, two Smart Stop and few very strong amateurs and myself. Everyone in this break could sprint, so I knew the teams were happy with the move and it would only be a matter of time before we lapped.

The field was lapped and JM was at the back of the pack to escort me to the front. I was having deja vu at this moment, because during the NCC round in Tampa, Florida I had lapped the field as well but was crashed out with 3 to go. Luckily I had a bigger team this night and we took control of the race with 20 laps to go. JM and Cesar did an amazing job for 12 laps swapping pulls making it fast and keeping me safe. With 8 laps to go United Healthcare took control and my boys had done their job. Now it was Emile helping me stay near the front as the “Blue Train” ramped it up. Smart Stop and the other riders in the break had their teams fighting for UHC’s back wheel and Emile and I had our hands full. I really do hate all the bumping and elbowing in the final laps of a race. It’s not my style and prefer to be smart and crafty with my positioning, but after Emile was completely checked and narrowly crashing out after try to protect me, it was no more Mr. nice Sergio! After that I started rearranging riders as I made my way to the back of UHC train. Luckily with 2 laps to go the pace was becoming to much for the field and I slipped onto Carlos Alzate’s wheel. Making the last 2 turns cleanly, Hilton Clark led out the sprint with his teammates Menzies and Carlos Alzate which were both in the break with me. To be honest, I didn’t know if I could win the race at this time and was just going through the motions, but I was sure going to try and with 3 pure sprinters in front of me I went for it! 100 meters from the line I jumped and came around Menzies and was closing fast on Alzate, but I was a half of wheel short and settled for 2nd.

Foothill Road Race
The next morning after very little sleep, the team packed up and checked out of the hotel and headed to the “Foothill Road Race”, a 69 mile race in the beautiful Alabama country side. I’ll try to keep this one short.

Feeling super tired from the night before I was happy to see Cesar and JM ride up the road with a good group, ahhhh time to sit in!!!! Nope, a Masters Team that had missed the break were gung ho on bringing it back. The break was brought back and not being able to help myself I launched an attack and ended up solo for about 5 miles. By the time the field brought me back there were 16 guys and the Masters Team was MIA. Cesar was in the group and we took turns trying to split the group. Eventually I got off with 8 other riders and quickly opened up a 2 minute gap. I decided to test the group with an attack in the last 10 miles, but I wasn’t getting any room. Smart Stop then started testing the group and with the last big climb coming up I countered one of their moves and rode off by myself. Halfway up the climb I was beginning to second guess myself, but I just focused on the pain and managed to make it to the top with a gap. I turned back and saw two riders with a good gap to the break, so I sat up and waited and as they connected we were gone. Coming into the final 200 meters, I started my sprint, cramps in both legs and my head down in full sprint I looked back and had a gap. Finally, I had the victory! I have been so close to getting it all season and like that Predator Carbon Repair capped off another great weekend in the South.

As always, thanks for reading my super long race reports, ya’ll are good people! Next week will be at the start of Speed Week starting with “Athens Twilight”. See you there!



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