The Carl Dolan Circuit Race at the Columbia Gateway Center has been going on so long it’s become a MABRA classic. We originally raced the other direction on this course, but only for one year and the race was called something else back then.
This race is not run on the most selective course around. There is only one turn and the fastest section is right as the field comes out of that turn. The hill that follows is basically negated by the fact that the field usually will carry its momentum right up to and over the top. So if you are not hoping for a field sprint, where can you make an effort that might get you some separation from the field? The feature of this course that must not be over looked is the wind that is almost always blowing right in the face of the field as they come through the start finish line. If you have the punch to get a gap into the wind as the group bogs down at the top of the hill, you might have a chance. But you need to get a big gap and get it quick, otherwise you will be pulled back as the course loops around and the wind ends up at your back.
If you do think you can win it in the sprint, the thing to keep in mind is that with the high speed coming from the bottom of the hill, the sprint will be long and fast, and if you start too soon, anyone who is close will likely be able to come around you. The feature that you should look at is that there is a slight break in the pitch of the hill as you get to the top, but before you reach the finish line. There are 100 – 200 meters where the sprint will be played out among anyone who is still in the front row after the climb. A well drilled lead out train on the final climb can limit the number of riders in contention when the actual sprint starts with 200 meters to go. If you have a big team in the race, then be ready to set the pace and keep the tempo super high in the last lap. If you are alone or your team is not big and strong, you will need to do what you can to infiltrate the train and be ready to go when the sprint starts.