The 2015 USA Crits Speedweek was historic for Dan Holloway and Alto/SeaSucker Factory Racing. It’s only the second time anyone has won 4 of the 5 races throughout the week, only because Hollway first accomplished the feat in 2014! Dan is also just the third rider in history to win back-to-back Athens Twlight criteriums; a list that includes legends Danny Clark and Gord Fraser.
“The pressure I put on myself to repeat Athens was enough to make those around me lose sleep,” said Holloway as he thought back to the days and weeks leading up to the event. If that self-motivation wasn’t already enough, Dan found even more while getting to visit with his girlfriend, Andrea, for the first time in four months. “She was able to take time out of her busy schedule to come visit for 36 hours and I’m very happy she did. I love seeing her face light up as she talks about her job and school, and it was that little bit extra that fueled my fire for Athens."
The Athens Twilight course was new for 2015, with a more significant elevation gain and more challenge corners. As the team was preparing their equipment, Dan realized that he had forgotten his glasses at the hotel about 20 minutes away. “It wasn’t ideal,” said Holloway, “but I got my glasses and an unwelcomed dose of adrenaline before the start.”
That adrenaline fueled an early attack up the home stretch that began to shape the outcome of the race. “With the hit of adrenaline, the pulse of Athens, and without thinking of the outcome if it failed, I attacked up the hill to test the field. To see who was ready to race, who had was fit, and who might be out of position. It created some gaps and I found myself off the front with Christian Grasmann from Germany, a good friend from the Six Day track scene. I was in great company. We were joined by 6 others and had a small gap that was touch and go for a while. But we stayed united and the gap grew until we lapped the field after about 20 laps.”
The racers, spectators, online live-stream followers, and anyone else in “the know” in bike racing knows that Dan Holloway is a sprinter. That’s his weapon and it’s how he wins bike races. So to lap the field once was an excellent move that put Alto Velo/SeaSucker in the driver’s seat, but what happened next showed that Holloway was going to leave absolutely nothing to chance.
“Once we got into the field I had to recover. I was paying for my effort in starting the move and doing my part to get it around. I was thankful for my GQ6 Re-Fuel Endurance at that point! I counted on some of the other major teams to chase each other for primes and keep the field together. It wasn’t until 30 laps to go that I started moving to the front to evaluate the situation. It seemed that a lot of the guys from the break were tired from marking each other, and at that point Ruben Companioni struck out for a prime and got a solid gap. Knowing about his win at Belmont a couple weeks prior, I knew it was a dangerous move and had to go with him. Once there, I put in two hard laps doing 500+ watts up the home stretch to extend the gap and make it difficult for anyone who wanted to get across. Once established we worked well together, closing in on the field in the final 10 laps. But I didn’t want to lap up again and be amongst those fighting it out in the field sprint and get caught up in a bad situation. Plus, it was easier to keep an eye on Ruben in a one-on-one situation. Going into the final laps I knew I could win if I didn’t make any mistakes in the corners and didn’t give an inch to Ruben. I came out of the final corner second wheel, waited 20 meters and took off with all I had. I checked over my shoulder and saw that I had a large enough gap to enjoy the moment and give the fans a great victory salute.”
Dan, Chad Hartley, and Marco Aledia went on to dominate the remainder of speed week, also winning in Charleston, Walterboro, and Spartanburg.
Up next for the team will be the Wilmington Grand Prix on May 15th-17th, where Alto Velo/SeaSucker hopes to get back on the top step that they have made their own in 2015!