James Wingert (Mike’s Bikes) surprised all, maybe even himself, when his launched a very well timed solo attack on the final lap of the circuit race to take the win at stage 4 of the Sea Otter Men’s Classic men’s stage race. He put his head down, never looked up and sprinted to take the biggest victory of his career.
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“It’s my first 1/2 win. It feels pretty great, I’m pretty happy right now.” Wingert told podiuminsight right before the podium ceremony.
Wingert did not go into the tough circuit race on Laguna Seca with a plan of attacking. “For myself, I did a pretty good time trial yesterday so I was happy to sit in and preserve my top 10 on GC. But my teammates rode really great, we got Eric Riggs in the break, they were active in the front and I kind of sat in the back as the group got smaller.”
Wingert made his move on the final lap of the leg-breaking circuit after a late race break had been reeled in. “Coming into the finish around the double apex,” he explained, “I carried a lot of speed through the corners, felt that I had good legs so I took a run at it. Exergy was at the front but they weren’t going super fast, I was pretty on top of my 11-tooth and went for it. Got a decisive gap right away and basically did my finishing sprint with about 800 to go and then put my head down, kept it solo to the line.”
At 28 years of age, Wingert is a relative newcomer to the sport. “I got my first road bike as a senior in college because my legs didn’t hold up to long distance running anymore and I was trying to get some fitness. I got into racing at Grad School at UC Davis. That was not that long ago, this is my fifth year racing.”
Wingert, who works at Mike’s Bikes, continued, “I’m a little older but I didn’t start as a junior like a lot of these kids, I don’t have the miles in my legs like some of the young kids. I got hooked on that and I’ve kind of foregone pursuing a career, just bike racing.”
He considers an allrounder. “I can time trial all right, I’m good at longer sprints, I don’t have that massive acceleration that some of the guys do. I’m good at the end of a hard race sometimes.”
Well, he certainly was good at the end of the hard race on Sunday though he didn’t know he was going to win until he crossed the finish line.
“I basically had my eyes closed to the finish.” he said. His thoughts right after crossing the line were simple, “wow, I won Sea Otter.”
“It’s one of my favorite tracks out there, the pavement is so good. I play video games and race on this track so I know the corners and it’s really fun.” Wingert laughed. “You can take it rock hard and trust it on the corners, it’s a fun track to race on.”