First off the location and course for the race are top notch. The course is a 7 mile closed section of a single road, the Silverado trail and is only about 10 miles north of Napa. The section of road must have been repaved recently because it is in very good condition which makes for good skating. The race starts and ends in the middle of closed section of road and is a two "lap" race (so 4 turnarounds).
Looking around I saw what appeared to be many strong skaters, especially from Team SAFE, which I believe is a strong LA based team. The only real face I recognized for sure was Brian Oswald from Skater's Quest. We just raced against him in Apostle, so I knew he was someone to consider when it came to competition. The race started late, as is usual for this group. The pace started fairly swift, but was a gradual downhill for most of the first couple of miles, so the pack was very large. I stayed toward the middle to try and assess who all the skaters where and who to watch out for. After the first turnaround going back to the start the pace picked up with a small attack. This didn't last long, but at this point I decided I should move toward the front of the pack. I got in near the front of the pack, after some friendly jawing with Chris Rojo of Team SAFE. When I got the front I decided to see what the group had, so I pushed the pace for the half mile or so. When I got off the front the pace seemed to slow again, but I looked back and now we were down to a group of about 15. We continued to race an unsteady and somewhat slow pace with a couple of us pushing it while at the front of the pack. By the time we were done wth the first lap the pack was down to about 10 of us. The second lap was fairly slow with the occasional small attack. There was only one significant break that seemed to be a threat so I made sure I got to the front to bring it back together at that point. I tested the group a couple of times with mock attacks, but could tell nobody was going to let anyone get away at this point in the race. Therefore, I decided to save my energy and legs for the sprint. As we neared the last couple of miles the pace came to a crawl. I was in fairly good position near the front of the pack and was hoping to hold out to the last rise about a quarter mile from the finish. After going past this point on the first lap I realized this would be my best place to start the sprint. It was far enough out that I may be able to get a jump on the pack.
Unfortunately, Brian Oswald must have been thinking the same thing, as he attacked and started the sprint, Thomas C (the eventual winner), was on the front of pack and grab Brian's wheel. I swung wide into the left hand lane to bridge up to them, but apparently didn't swing wide enough and got my right skate clicked by a skater who also pulled out to move up. I lost some momentum there, which I think cost me (but who knows). Anyway, now Brian and Thomas had a sizable gap. Thomas went around Brian, to take the win. I caught and passed Brian in the last couple of hundred meters to take second.
2nd Place Andy Kostka
SHORT VIDEO OF THE FINISH