Rider Highlight: Skyler Mackey takes the win at Sand Springs Palmer Criterium Category 1/2

Skyler Mackey takes the win at Sand Springs Palmer Criterium Category 1/2. While he focuses his season on cyclo-cross, racing criteriums like this are an integral part of his preparation for a successful cyclo-cross season. 

Skyler Mackey mid-race

Brief event/course description:

The course is very technical with lots of turns that give racers with solid bike handling skills a huge advantage.  A hairpin turn right after the finish line that leads into a short punch climb makes for a good attacking spot.  With another punch climb just a few turns later the Sand Springs Palmer course usually becomes one of the harder courses I race each year.     

How’d the race go down for you?

To start off the race, I did a cyclo-cross style start as I love to do to get things going quickly and to stay out of danger the first few turns.  Once the group came back together, attacks started to fly.  When most of the teams started to become represented off the front I would either jump to the group myself or follow another rider’s attack.  
About half way through the race I attacked with a few other guys which created a 12 man split off the front of the race.  I stuck to my plan to follow as many moves as possible.  One rider went solo off the front with about 10 laps to go and created a 5-10 second gap for himself. The other teams represented in the break started to work together to pull him back in.  
When it got down to six laps to go I knew I had to make my move to bridge to him and try to hold off the rest of the breakaway.  After that hairpin turn I attacked and made it to the rider and when I looked back I couldn’t see the break. Every time I would come around to pull I would put a dig in to either break our two man group or make him work hard to gain my wheel again.  

Taking the win!

With two laps to go the main field was just 5 seconds ahead of us.  I attacked right after the hairpin turn on the last lap and bridged to the main group to lap the race.  I moved through the group as quickly as I could and came in for the win during the field sprint.  

Which coach do you work with and how did your training help you prepare for the event?   

I work with Adam Mills, who has been helping me on raising my high sustained power.  After the end on my last U23 nationals for cyclocross, I had some discussions with Adam and my cyclo-cross director Bill Marshall on the upcoming road season and came to the decision to not focus on it and put all of it on the next cyclo-cross season.  
To prepare me for my first year in the elites, Adam and I have been working on increasing the maximum amount of watts I can maintain for an hour.  Even though it wasn’t a huge race, taking the win showed me that what Adam and I have been working on is making a major difference in my fitness and strength.    

What advice do you have for someone up and coming in your cycling discipline?

My advice to someone that makes the decision to focus on cyclo-cross is to stick with the training.  The base building is a long process that can be very challenging at times but it will pay off when it comes time to race in the fall.  

What is your next event?  

My next event will be the Oklahoma City Pro Am Classic and Tulsa Tough both in the Pro/1 field’
Congrats Skyler Mackey on taking the win! Thanks James Gann for the photos!
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