Race Report: San Dimas Stage Race (Women’s P123)

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Words by: Starla Teddergreen (Fearless Femme p/b Haute Wheels)

Déjà vu la course.

Perhaps it is a simply a matter of forgetfulness, or a mechanism of self preservation, yet I stand at the starting line of San Dimas Stage Race unable to recall my experiences from years’ past. Glimmers of special memories reserve a spot in my mind while the rest fades away. Memories of chasing Ina Tutenberg into the fog, or trying to hold on up the cobbled neighborhood ascent. Each memory recalls a distinct kind of suffering and before I know it that memory door slams shut. If I could fully remember the suffering of each race, I might not start the next.

Although the memories are sparse, this year was very clearly unlike any other in many ways. The field consisted of an incredible 110 women suffering through unusually high temperatures. I arrived with a team of four amazing women who had driven a tightly packed car 23hrs across country directly from team camp. We came prepared for a hard race, yet breathed calmly as there was no stress, no pressure, and no expectation. We were there to watch, learn, and have fun. Mentally this changes every thing.

San Dimas Stage Race opens with a winding uphill TT. The secret to doing well at this stage is conserving just enough energy to navigate the endless switchbacks with smooth, steady, and measured suffering. I was not the fastest on the course that day but was satisfied given my TT experience. I was focused on learning to pace myself. Photos from the event revealed a cool, calm and collected Starla. Winning.

Day 2 consisted of a newly revised Road Race course, including Heckler Hill. It was fast, exciting, relatively safe, and spectator friendly. Perhaps the first year in which I did not witness a crash. In short, the road race was awesome to be a part of: Watching Visit Dallas Cycling Team take control of the pace as they defended teammate and race leader, Amber Neben. Observing the finesse of Optum as they dominated hot lap points, defending teammate Briana Walle in the green jersey. At the start of the Road Race, Walle was a mere 30 seconds down from Neben. It was a beautiful dance of control and suffering.

I said I was here to learn, and that is what I did. Floating near the front of the peloton I was able to observe the race and team strategies. I was gaining confidence in my fitness, hanging with the lead group up every climb with minimal struggle. Then it struck; I had become so immersed in the learning experience that I had underestimated my fluid intake. At two laps to go and no longer any opportunities to receive a feed, I was out of water; covered in salt, and watching the field ride away. What had I done to my self? I was joined by several other riders and we worked together pushing each other to make time cut. One poignant memory from this moment was the final ascent up heckler hill to the tune of “Yesterday” by the Beatles. Really? Yesterday?

Finally, the stage I had been patiently waiting for. San Dimas Stage Race concludes with a Criterium. At the start, the Visit Dallas Cycling Team was still in the lead with Optum close in contention for the overall win. The race was fast, controlled, and splintering at the back.

I was reminded that road racers do not race Criterium and vice versa. So I made sure to stay near the front at all times. With two laps to go, Amber Gaffney of 2016 attacked and had an 8 sec lead. Entering the bell lap, a crash ensued. With some evasive maneuvering, I chased back on to the group. With all teammates accounted for, we got in formation ready to delivery a podium finish. Only to be neutralized with two corners left in the race.

We resumed now with 3 laps to go. Amber Gaffney re-established her lead, but now with a whole peloton of rested cyclists on the chase. I fought hard to regain position. With one lap to go, Gaffney was caught and our team was together again only to be pinched in the corner while evading another riders’ crash provoking maneuver. I chased back on to catch the GC leader’s wheel in the final corner. Still separated from my teammates by a field of breaking riders. Teammates Christy and Mandy made it through taking 3rd and 6th respectively, while I closed it down for 13th. It was not the finish I know I am capable of but I was stoked to see my girls up there and representing on the podium. Impressed by Visit Dallas for keeping the yellow jersey by a mere .07 seconds. A hard fought win.

For a training race I think we accomplished a great deal, learned lessons in hydration, TT pacing, and racing Criteriums with Road specialists. I also had a lot of fun getting to know new teammates and enjoying the CA sun! Next up is Redlands where we will be ready and focused to apply what we have learned.

Starla Teddergreen lives in Portland, ORE. 

Race Report: San Dimas Stage Race (Women’s P123)

Bonelli-119.jpgWords by: Amber Neben

Whoa that was fun. Of course, winning is always fun, and winning as a team where everyone contributes to make it happen is even better. I had a big ride in the TT on Friday to get it started, and then my Visit Dallas Cycling Team won the race by their efforts and hard work in the road race and crit! It’s a great way for me to kick off the season, and it is a special ‘big’ win for the team.

Here’s how it happened:

The race kicked off with the 4.25mile uphill time trial on the front side of Glendora Mountain, GMR to the locals. It was hotter and windier than I ever remember it being, but then I could just be getting old and forgetful. The race is pretty straight forward. It’s an all-out 17ish minute effort: Get out hard, find your riding and breathing rhythm, dial in mentally, and then hang on. I’d been training really hard up to the Sunday before, so I wasn’t sure how I would go. At the end of the day, I popped off a ride worthy of winning and was encouraged with my power numbers and how I felt.

That night, I drove home to do team laundry and sleep in my own bed. It seemed like an excellent idea until I managed to kick and catch the rim of my car tire with my pinky toe. I kicked/caught it hard enough to rip that baby sideways. Mama mia. No joke. I looked down, and it was pointed perpendicular to the rest of my toes. I looked away as fast as I could and hollered at my husband to come over fast. I said, “Jason, I need you to straighten my toe right now. Just straighten it NOW.” He did not flinch. My poor husband has endured a lot with me, and I love him dearly. Thankfully, he’s also a handyman and simply knelt down and pushed that little guy straight back in place. YOWSERS. There was some more cracking, but at least it was pointed forward, and I had a chance to get my cycling shoe on. (X-Rays showed I ripped it off and didn’t dislocate it. Better for the long run and riding while it heals.)

There were lots of ice and prayer overnight and a step of faith in the morning when I tried to get my shoe on. Actually, that may have been the hardest part of the day. After what seemed like 20 minutes, lots of deep breaths, and some careful nudging, I got it on. I felt a little nauseous for a couple hours, but then the race adrenaline kicked in, and I was good to go.

More importantly, my Visit Dallas Cycling p/b Noise team of Olivia Dillon, Anna Sanders, Anna Grace Christiansen, Flavia Oliveira, Beth Ann Orton, Mia “Mango” Manganello, and Kat Hunter ALL had my back. They were on a mission to win the race, and I knew I could trust they would take care of me. Sure enough… they were on their “A” games. All of them.

In the road race, Anna Grace and Beth set a mean tempo the first half of the race to keep things under control. Then every lap after, they were always on the front stringing things out into the downhill. Meanwhile, Olivia was around to do what was needed, when it was needed. She is an awesome road captain with me, and she does such a good job of orchestrating the team plan. Anna and Flavia were key on the climb every lap. They were able to go with any attacks and keep us in a great position. Mia was either rolling tempo or setting up for a big finish. While Kat, who has very limited race experience, made huge progress and contributed in the beginning and at the end to give Beth and Anna Grace a breather at just the right time. At the end of the day, they did their jobs, and I snuck in for two, third-place one-second time bonuses, salvaging what turned out to be a critical 2 seconds. Although Optum had successfully taken 10 seconds in sprint bonuses, we still had the yellow jersey… barely.

I had a 16.7 sec lead, but the criterium on Sunday offered up 16 seconds in time bonuses. It was going to be dangerously tight. When God made me a cyclist, he gifted me with a big engine and slow twitch legs. I do have one single fast twitch fiber available for that survival moment to escape the dog or car, but it’s not that helpful in a bunch sprint, so my team becomes critically important for success. With that in mind, we went on the offensive to try to take the legs out of the Optum team leadout.

Everyone on my team raced their hearts out. I was so impressed and thankful. Everyone played a huge role. There were attacks, counters, and pressure put on the others all day. Although they didn’t get themselves in a position to win, they successfully did what needed to be done. With a couple laps to go, Amber Gaffney (TWENTY16 Pro Cycling) got off solo and was able to secure a big gap. She was on her way to a victory and taking the 10second time bonus, but unfortunately a crash on the finish straight before our final lap caused the race to be neutralized at the top of the hill.

After a short break, we ended up rolling back to the start/finish – restarting for an additional 3 laps. Unfortunately that meant that Gaffney’s effort, which had put her in a position to win, was cancelled out. Instead, we ended up going to the line in a bunch sprint and Optum’s amazing sprint train did exactly what needed to be done, and Brianna Walle got a big stage win. Lucky for us, though, that 0.7 seconds held up, and we won!!!

It was a great 3 days of racing. The team gained some confidence and realized what their true capabilities are. We’ll continue to make strides as we go! Pressing on to the next event now…The Redlands Classic.

Thanks for reading… follow me on twitter at @amberneben or my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/amber.neben.9.

Amber Neben lives in Irvine, CA.

She’s Back!! Race Report: Tour de Murrieta (Women’s P123)

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Words by: Trina Jacobson

TAKING A STEP BACK

I can’t believe September 2013 was my last post here on Cycling Illustrated. I certainly started my break from writing with a bang (yay!), but that was also the last time I was on the podium (sigh).

2014 was an ebb year, personally. Personal life takes a lot of energy to keep balanced and when faced with life transitions, the energy goes there. It has to. With a finite amount of energy to expend, more energy there means less energy to cycling; and it began to wear on me big time. Yet I still tried to race with my team to stay connected with my cycling family. I felt like a mushy passenger on my bike most of the year but I was able to contribute to a few successes.

Needless to say, I wouldn’t categorize the season as “fun”.

Sometime in the fall, as I began to feel whole again, I started working in earnest on making my life the way I want it to be. That small change in how I looked at life started attracting good energy in the people and opportunities around me. Most specifically, an opportunity to work at SPY Optic in Carlsbad, CA. Once landing the job, it was a no-brainer to commit to the team SPY sponsors: SPY-Giant-RIDE pb GQ6.

I eased myself back into riding more than twice a week mostly by having an explorer’s attitude about the area the office is located in, making new riding friends, and trying new group rides.  

 THE TOUR DE MURRIETA

At the risk of this entire race reporting sounding like one gigantic #humblebrag, here’s how the Tour de Murrieta Grand Prix played out for the team and my thought process throughout.

The team meets before and after each race. This meeting was quick: it was a different scenario than our last team race at the San Diego Omnium, where we had the numbers and it was our race to lose. Our plan was to be patient today. Be active, but patient for the right opportunity to go with a break…or lead Trina out for the field sprint.

….wait, what? Trina? Me?

I knew I had been riding enough and had gotten enough intensity to hang in, but sprint at the end of the one of the more technical and fast crits in SoCal with that looooong straight finish?

It was hot and I didn’t warm up much. I felt a hunger pang and wished I’d had that snack on my drive. My helmet felt tight. I was suddenly concerned with whether my hands would be too hot in my full fingered gloves.

Breathe, Trina, breathe.

I was active early in the race alongside team-mates Pam, Jenny, Angelica, and Jen. I thought to myself, “I am NOT fit enough for this, get your butt back into the field.” At which time a prime strung the field out and I felt in jeopardy of disconnecting from the field. It slowed just a tad for me to get back in and I happened to be in position to follow the next attack. So, I went again.

I don’t much remember the middle part of the race. Jenny was on a solo effort for several laps, then Pam. Pam went for a prime which rolled into a group of 3 or 4 getting a small gap on the field. I prayed for it to stick so that, selfishly, I’d not have the pressure to perform in a field sprint.

At 7 laps to go I was on the front again. “I must be the stupidest sprinter ever….get back, get BACK!” At 5 laps to go I actually told my teammate, “You gotta do it. You sprint.” At 2 laps to go, I was somehow behind Pam. I let her know I was there with my super-secret password. I could immediately tell she went from positioning herself to positioning whatever teammate was behind her. She’s rad like that.

Last lap, corner 3: That’s a sharp curb.

Last lap, corner 5 (second to last corner): I lost a position (or two), but knew it’d be ok as it’s a long way to the finish after the last corner. BE PATIENT (while railing a corner).

Last lap, last corner: I found Pam at the same time I saw the gap opening up behind Amber Gaffney of Twenty16. BE PATIENT.

I’m Pam started to go around a few women and I knew I’d better go or I’d get swarmed. YAY! I’m gonna get second! Wait…SECOND?! WTF, Trina! Click, click… I’m closing the gap…this gear is too hard…this one is too easy…there’s the line, there’s the line, there’s…the…LINE!

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“SHE’S BACK”

No longer feeling like a mere passenger on my bike, we rolled around the course, stopping to pick up a piece of asphalt that was in the middle of the road. Pam gave it to me as a souvenir and I’m pretty sure it will sit alongside the crystal trophy TdM awarded.

I took a moment to lay down in the shade and found myself shedding a few tears. After a huge physical effort, I can be a little emotional. I hadn’t yet seen his photos, but I was sure Danny Munson got The Shot. I thought about photos he’s taken of me over the past few years. I know exactly what mental and physical space I was in for each of them and today’s shot was full circle to the one that introduced us….a win and smiles. I told him, “This last year was hard. Really hard.” Then, we chatted about family.

I am hesitant to say that I’m back (mostly because I never really left and I’m sure I’d be happy never winning another race again), but my pack mates and friends greeted me with, “She’s BAAAACK!” My teammates made me laugh about looking like a dude in a trucker hat right before podium.

I celebrated with a brisket sandwich and a coke.

Short Track Cross Country Action Closes USA Cycling’s US CUP Round 1 at Bonelli Park

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Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) wins the elite women’s short track race at Bonelli Park, round 1 of the USA Cycling US CUP Series presented by Cannondale

 

Short Track Cross Country Action Closes USA Cycling’s US CUP Round 1 at Bonelli Park

 

San Dimas, California – March 15, 2015:  Georgia Gould (Luna Pro Team) and Sergio Mantecon (Trek Factory Racing) won the short track cross country races at the USA Cycling’s US Cup Pro Series presented by Cannondale at Frank G. Bonelli Park in San Dimas, California, on Sunday afternoon.  Sunday’s temps were slightly more comfortable than Saturday’s sweltering heat of the cross country race.

 

Elite women

Georgia Gould raced to victory in the elite women’s short track two seconds ahead of teammate Katerina Nash. The Bonelli short track course was raced for fifteen minutes plus one additional lap.

Norco’s Haley Smith got off to a fast start and broke away early on the first lap only to be reeled in prior to the prime on lap three, which was won by Erin Huck (Scott 3 Rox).

On the fifth lap, a lead group had formed which would dictate the remainder of the race. It consisted of: Huck, Ally Stacher, Emily Batty (Trek Factory Racing), Nash, Gould, Andrea Waldis, Catherine Pendrel and Maghalie Rochette (all Luna Pro Team), Smith, Lea Davison (Specialized Racing), Larissa Connors (Ridebiker Alliance) and Sandra Walter (Liv Cycling Canada).

The Luna Pro Team took command of the late laps, paving the way for Gould’s fierce attack, which gave her a two-second win ahead of teammate Nash.

 

Elite men

The men’s race was twenty minutes plus one lap and saw a number of riders lining up hoping that the previous day’s efforts wouldn’t slow them down on this fast and dusty course.

A number of early moves were countered until lap seven when the main split had been established. Trek’s Mantecon put in a blistering effort that saw first Todd Wells (Specialized Racing) and then Saturday’s winner Raphael Gagne (Rocky Mountain Bicycles) give chase. Rare Disease Cycling’s Cole Oberman would be the only racer to jump the gap to Mantecon. The two had a nice lead that closed quickly going into the last lap but Mantecon’s surge after the start/finish line on the bell lap left the surprising Oberman in his wake.

The Spaniard flew around the last lap to take a commanding four-second win after a brilliant race. Oberman crossed second just ahead of Wells while Kohei Yamamoto (Trek Factory Racing) took fourth ahead of Kerry Werner (Raleigh Clement Cycling Team).

 

Bonelli Park short track cross country brief results

Elite women

1 Georgia Gould (United States) Luna Pro Team; 18:54.60

2 Katerina Nash (Czech Republic) Luna Pro Team; 18:56.80

3 Emily Batty (Canada) Trek Factory Racing; 18:57.70

4 Erin Huck (United States) Scott 3 Rox; 18:58.40

5 Catharine Pendrel (Canada) Luna Pro Team; 18:59.30

 

Elite men

1 Sergio Mantecon (Spain) Trek Factory Racing; 23:06:30

2 Cole Oberman (United States) Rare Disease Cycling; 23:10.00

3 Todd Wells (United States) Specialized Factory Racing; 23:11:50

4 Kohei Yamamoto (Japan) Trek Factory Racing; 23:12:10

5 Kerry Werner (United States) Raleigh Clement Cycling Team; 23:12:40

Race Report: Chico Stage Race (Women’s P123)

Words by Leah Thomas

Having never raced Chico before and being the first race of the season, the days leading up to the race filled me with anticipation.  Though I have only done a handful of stage races, they have quickly become my favorite kind of race:  while each day matters, there is a much bigger picture to take into consideration.That the race had grown this year to include a fourth stage added to the excitement.

As we pulled up to the Thunderhill Race Track for Friday’s circuit race, it was clear, breezy, and cool, with no threat of rain, the perfect way to start a four-day race.  The tarmac was impeccable, and the wide track made for easy advance through the pack.

In anticipation of the 90-mile road race, the circuit race was tame, with precious few breaks going off the front.  Still, I fought to maintain a positioning in the pack that allowed quick reaction to any attacks that might have taken place by the larger teams. On the final climb, Alison Jackson (TWENTY16 presented by SHO- Air) attacked over the top.  The pack hesitated, and Alison successfully held off the pack for a first place finish.

For the rest of us, the final result came down to a bunch sprint.  Entering the final stretch, I got boxed between the wall on the right and other riders passing on the left; when an opening finally cleared, I sprinted, gaining back a few positions for a 5th place finish.

At the road race the next morning at Black Butte Lake, the sun was as warm, the air chilly.  Seemingly, the hardest decision of the day was deciding how many layers to put on.  Needless to say, I was pumped.  I love road races, andwas excited for the feeling of complete exhaustion that would come after racing90 miles. Having never raced this course before, I was looking forward to experiencing the Paskenta gravel firsthand.

The first lap was tame.  Though there was a break that formed on the gravel, everyone sat up and the pack was quickly back together.  Another rider went off the front halfway through the lap, and Twenty16 worked to close the gap as we neared the gravel on lap 2.

The second lap was the opposite, as the attacks heated up after the town of Paskenta.  Alison Tetrick (Optum Pro Cycling p/b KBS) put down some hard attacks. At one point I saw Optum, Twenty16, TIBCO, UnitedHealth Care, and DNA Cycling surge away and I thought “I’d better get on that,” lest I watch the winning break ride away, I tapped the matchbook and jumped hard to bridge onto them.

Our six-person break rode fast and worked welltogether, but the remaining teams in the peloton must have been determined not to let us get away, keeping our lead hovering at 30 seconds until very near the finish.

With 1km to go, Tetrick accelerated with Allie Dragoo ( TWENTY16 presented by SHO-Air) on her wheel. Katie Hall (United Health Care Pro Cycling) accelerated up the climb to 3rd, and I held the wheel of Team TIBCO’s Sara Headley for 5th.

With two fifth place finishes, I was beginning to think that five was going to be my number for the weekend, so I was excited to learn I was fourth in GC going into the time trial.  I have few TT’s under my belt, and this was the stage I was most nervous about. After spending time working to fit on a bike compiled from the best gear and parts my teammates could graciously lend, and a few last minute aero additions, meant that today was the day to test it all out in a race.

Riding without a power meter meant it was up to me to not kill it too hard going out, so I quickly settled into what felt like a strong, but steady pace.  The course was chaotically windy, with no particular stretch of road being dominated by much of a tailwind and one leg having a heavy headwind.  On the turn onto the final straight away, Allie Dragoo (TWENTY16 presented by SHO-Air) passed me from a minute behind, casting doubt on whether I’d hold my top-five placing in the GC.

Placing fourth in the time trial was a fantastic surprise, second only to finding out I moved into second overall.  There was a fifteen-second cushion back to Sara Headley (Team TIBCO-SVB) in third.  So as long as Headley and I stayed together during the criterium, I would be able to hold on to my second place spot.  However, after amechanical during the time trial that had left Alison Tetrick only six seconds off the podium, she would certainly be fighting hard to get back onto it.

I spent the first third of the crit up front, guessing that both Tetrick and Headley were waiting to attack.  When Alison made her first move, I jumped onto Sara’s wheel as she responded, and held there until the end of the race, otherwise riding conservatively to minimize crash risk.

I’m deeply honored and thrilled to have placed 2nd overall in the GC at Chico Stage Race, against such a deep and talented field.  Furthermore, Metromint Cycling finished second in the team competition!  I could not have done it without my awesome teammates, who showered me in support and encouragement throughout the races, and who graciously lent me their equipment and racing wisdom.

And thank you to both Metromint and The Freewheel Bike Shop for supporting our team: without their support, none of this would be possible.

Leah Thomas lives in Sunnyvale, CA.

Race Report: Snelling Road Race (Women’s P12)

Words by: Judy Wexler (Folsom Bike/Trek- Women’s Road Team)

As we drove down to the Snelling road race on Saturday morning, I reminisced about the last time I’d entered this race.

It was 2012, and I was new to the California racing scene. I was also pretty out of shape. Naive and unfit, I got dropped and chased back on twice before abandoning the race. The third time I was dropped. I told my (Folsom Bike/Trek) teammate Dani Haulman on the drive down, “The second best part of that race was being pulled back to the group by you (and we weren’t even team mates yet!) The best part was dropping out.”

Dropping out of this race certainly wasn’t an option this past Saturday. Folsom Bike brought a strong squad (Cara Fitchett, Dani Haulman, Diane Moug, Susannah Breen, and myself), and we were there to win. The plan had been to get Diane in a winning move off the front of the race. The five of us were all aggressive from the start, but it was difficult for any move to stick. The men’s P1/2 field faced a similar dilemma — without its signature wind, the Snelling course is not very selective. And with the full use of the road (which was fabulous!), riders found it difficult to sneak away.

For most of the second lap, Diane was in a break with Felicia Gomez (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing) and Mary Maroon (Academy). But issues with cooperation in the group spoiled its prospects, and they were caught after several miles.

The pace was fierce for the first half of the race. And I was already tired when I covered a move by Melanie Wong (ICE Sportswear p/b Pinnacle Racing). But someone from the team needed to be up there, so I did my best. Melanie was a beast, and I was reduced to only pulling about one third of the time we were up the road. But each time I got to the front, I thought, “The longer I’m out front, the more tired the field will be when they catch us, and the better chance Diane will have of staying off the front.” So when we were caught after almost a lap, I was crestfallen to see everyone and their mother mark Diane as she valiently tried to get away.

Shortly after, Dani and I conferenced in the back of the peloton; resigned to the fact nothing was going get away. Dani asked if I felt good for a sprint. I replied, “No, I feel awful, but I’m going to get the job done.”

We decided the team would take control on the final straight away before the last turn. Dani would be immediately in front of me, with Diane in front of her. With about 1.5 K to go, people got crazy — riders were swerving across the road, battling for position like this was some world championship event. Shortly after 1k to go, I sat boxed in behind Dani, Diane, Mary Maroon, Felicia Gomez, and Lenore Pipes (unattached) and just yelled, “I’m f*cked!”

At that point, I did not think I was going to win the race. But as per usual, Diane and Dani make miracles happen. They kept me out of danger and kept the pace high. We rounded the final corner, which is about 300 meters to the finish, and Mary, Lenore and Felicia just exploded up the hill. I comfortably rode Felicia’s wheel at this point, staying with the group but refusing to start my sprint until at least 200 meters. Right after we passed the 200 M sign, I stood up, wound up and gunned it to the finish. About 100 meters from the line I thought, “DO THIS FOR YOUR AMAZING TEAMMIES,”.

50 meters from the line I thought, “Holy sh*t, I am winning this race!”

As per usual, I could not have gotten this result without the support of the team. I flippin’ love these girls and if I had to would sprint with one leg to pay them back for their work.

Judy Wexler lives in Davis, CA.

Cal Aggie Crit (Women’s P/1/2/3)

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Judy Wexler dominating this race.

Cal Aggie Crit (Women’s P/1/2/3)

Words by Judy Wexler (Folsom Bike/Trek)

What a luxury of living in California – to be able to race a criterium in January! Saturday’s Cal Aggie Criterium was a very enjoyable start to the 2015 road season.

The Cal Aggie Crit is fairly low key event; the course is a one mile gentle circle, with a fun chicane about 400 meters from the finish. Fortunately, there was a bit of wind on Saturday to make things exciting. We had a fat tail wind on the home-stretch, and riding into the wind on the backside.

Unfortunately, there were only a dozen or so women to take to the line, but I was happy to be racing with the best teammates ever: Diane Moug and Dani Haulman. We’d gotten in a solid pre-race talk: discussing the pros and cons of leg waxing and how much I missed by failing to go out to the bars the night before. I was determined that there would be no more regrets in my life that weekend.

The gun went off, and (as per usual) I took off like a rocket. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being the first to clip in and sprint off the line in a crit. Once the group caught up a half lap later, Diane launched an attack, setting the stage for the first 20 minutes of the race.

Dani, Diane and I traded attacks continuously, trying to make something stick. Diane had a decent gap with a two other ladies at one point; I sat on the wheel of Amanda Seigle (Jakroo Clothing) as she pulled it back.

Once we caught the trio, I launched hard into the tailwind. To my dismay, no one followed me. As a sprinter, I do not like being off the front. But I had no choice but to commit at this point- my teammates were back in the field, counting on me to go hard up the road. When I came by the start/finish line and saw 8 laps to go, I thought, “Improbable, but I’m going to try my best.” Inspiring, right?

I had a decent gap on the field and stayed away for three laps and a half laps. When the field caught up, I just slotted in the back and rested. My legs were pretty tired at this point, but I knew that if the race came down to a sprint, my job was to win. Dani went up the road with Hanna Muegge (Mike’s Bikes p/b Equator Coffee), but the move was not to be. With 1.5 laps to go, it was all together, and I was soft pedaling at the front. Like the homie she is, Diane came around me. I settled in behind her for my first class seat to the finish line. She pulled for the entire last 1.5 laps, and I launched out of the last corner determined to pay back her efforts with a win. I crossed the line first, with enough time to post up.

High off my win, I jumped into the Men’s P1/2/3 race immediately afterwards. It should be noted that Dani had warned me this race would be sketchy, and she estimated I would last 14 minutes before getting fed up with the shenanigans of 60 men who haven’t raced their bikes in 4 months.

Well, I lasted all of 20 seconds before being taken out by a massive crash. I’m completely fine, but my pride was a little wounded. Lesson learned (as if I needed to learn this lesson again): Listen to the wisdom of Dani Haulman!!

Judy Wexler lives in Davis, CA.

Race Report: Boulevard Road Race (Women’s Cat 1/2/3)

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Larissa Connors finding some draft.

Pro Womens Boulevard Road Race Campo CA-

Words: Larissa Connors

When you’re a mountain bike racer you don’t really have to think much about tactics. Basically, when the official blows his whistle, you go off the line as hard as you think is prudent and ride your butt off till you reach the finish.

Then you get the bright idea to race road bikes (because it’s a great excuse to eat the best nachos of your life in Apline, CA) and you have absolutely no idea what is going on during the race because those roadie women are wicked smart when it comes to tactics!

So, it was as great a surprise to me as it was to anyone else out there, when I somehow pulled off the win in an agonizing sprint to the line with Tracy Tilton (Incycle) at the Boulevard road race on this past Saturday.

During the race there was an unbelievable amount of tactical drama, the Spy/Giant girls were super sly about staying off the front and Monster Media crew launching multiple attacks to try and shake things up.  My friend Tracy and I sacrificed our early break at the end of the third lap out of fear we would just get caught on the descent. Pretty much everyone was trying to stay off the front leading into the big climb on each lap.

At one point on the third lap, some chick from Monster Media just rode away from our group of 9 (while I was in the back picking my nose) and no one chased her down! This was baffling to me: Why on earth would they just let her go? I couldn’t handle just giving the win away like that, so I went to the front to pull her in.

After a while I sat up to let someone else help out, no one pulled through. I put my head down for a bit more, tried to get some help. Again, nothing. So I did what any self-respecting mountain biker would do: I pulled the whole group all the way to the base of the 15 min climb to the finish. I knew basically what was going on-they tricked me into doing an obscene amount of work on the last lap, right before the climb, which was really pretty smart!

On the final climb I did the only thing I could think to, which was to attack and hope somehow to out climb this bunch of women who were much smarter than me. Thankfully, when it came down to that last 500m (with only, Tracy, by my side) I had just enough lungs and legs to back up the past 3 hours worth of poor decision making.

My most vivid memory from this race was the horribly stressful moments before the sprint wondering which gear to be in, how on earth I would beat someone who raced infinitely smarter than me, and oh shoot, here we go! Then it was just a matter of tearing every last fiber of my quadriceps apart, while repeating to myself on loop ‘you want this, you can do this’.

At the end of the day I can only say thank goodness for that witty, kick butt coach of mine, Matt Freeman from trainright.com for whipping me into shape, and always adapting to compensate for my constant bad decision making! And the hilarious and knowledgable guys at ShoAir Cyclery in Orange County for believing in me!

Larissa Connors lives in Silverado, CA.

BMW Named as Title Sponsor for New UCI Women’s Team

 

Winston-Salem, North Carolina – January 19, 2015: After the announcement of a new UCI women’s cycling team in the works, Premier Sports Group can now reveal the major sponsors, team roster and program for the 2015 team.

 

BMW USA comes on as the title sponsor for the team with Happy Tooth Dental Group as the presenting sponsor. BMW has been involved in the sponsorship of Team SmartStop since late last year from the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah onwards and have pledged their support to American cycling and Premier Sports Group through this new team.

 

AMain.com and Bissell also come on as major sponsors of the team.

 

Premier Sports Group has brought in Director Sportif, Jono Coulter, to run the team. Coulter said: “I am delighted to be a part of the most exciting organization in US Cycling right now. Premier Sports Group is at the forefront of delivering the emotion and the spirit of professional cycling to every fan from casual observer to super passionate.

 

“When Jamie Bennett and Omer Kem said they were 100% behind a Women’s Cycling program I knew we would have an amazing opportunity to create an engaging, high performance team. BMW and Happy Tooth Dental Group have taken a lead and commitment that is commendable in a rapidly growing sector of sports, we are happy to be able to repay them for their support on the road this season.

 

“I am stoked to be able to showcase the BMW X1 in conjunction with our first class women’s team.”

 

Coulter has selected a talented pool of American and International riders who make up the ten-women roster for the 2015 season including the Principle of the Women’s Cycling Association (WCA), Robin Farina. Farina will bring eight years of road cycling experience to the team.

 

“I am particularly excited to work with 2011 USA Road Champion Robin Farina, who has been instrumental as a voice for Women’s Cycling through WCA in the last few years.

 

“BMW presented by Happy Tooth Dental Group has a talented & formidable roster that is no stranger to the Professional ranks. We have proven athletes with excellent pedigree who I have had the fortune of working with over several years, and some unheralded newcomers who I feel can come in and help define the sport in the near future.”

 

Other Americans joining Farina on the team include, Korina Huizar who is expected to bring her USA Points Race Stars and Stripes form from the track and translate that to the road. Expect big things from current U23 Criterium National Champion, Michelle Khare, who brings youth and energy into the team with an engaging attitude that will appeal to a new generation of fans.

 

As well as Americans, Coulter has brought on three Canadians, an Australian and a Swiss rider. Coulter said: “Aussie Miranda Griffiths will be a force in the climbing stages of our UCI events. Rhae Shaw from Canada is proven world class and is still fine tuning ways to turn her raw strength into a high class wins and Swiss rider Jessy Uebelhart will bring her European knowledge to the squad, which will compete in all North American UCI events in 2015.”

 

The team will focus on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar with hopes of receiving invitations to women’s editions of the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour of Utah.

 

The BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental Group 2015 Roster

Elle Anderson (USA)

Robin Farina (USA)

Miranda Griffths (AUS)

Korina Huizar (USA)

Michelle Khare (USA)

Liza Rachetto (USA)

Megan Rathwell (CAN)

Shoshauna Routley (CAN)

Rhae Shaw (CAN)

Jessy Uebelhart (SUI)

Erica Zaveta (USA)

 

Tour Femenino de San Luis

Photo By: Shimano Latin America

Photo By: Shimano Latin America

By: Alison Tetrick

Tour Femenino de San Luis.  Don’t you love it when men’s races also have an equally exciting women’s race?  I do.  Let’s see more of this please!

The TFSL is the first UCI women’s stage race on the calendar and it takes place in the beautiful province of San Luis in Argentina, a few hours outside of Mendoza.  The area is characterized by vast and fertile farmlands that are bordered by arid mountains and a high desert terrain.  The mixture of brightly hued greens contrast sharply with the rocky soil and distinct smell of sage.

I was a guest rider, along with my Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies teammate, Lex Albrecht, for Xirayas de San Luis, an Argentinian team representing the area.  The team was directed by Marcelo Alexandre (former World Champion in the kilo, and whose brother, Sebastian, directs Jamis Sutter Home men’s professional team).  The team is owned by Delfina Freres, who was Argentina’s first female race car driver, and she is also an avid cyclist, a super model, a mother, a grandmother, and insurmountable community icon.  Somehow she did manage to do it all!

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Photo By: Shimano Latin America

Tour Femenino de San Luis begins with a 1 day UCI race, and then a 6 day stage race.  You got it!  7 days of racing in January.  Sure beats doing intervals.  Warm air, South American racing, and the most beautiful team to be able to experience this race alongside.  Color, culture, warmth, smiles, and art all brought this team together.  The kit itself was a work of art, and encompassed the passion and zest for life, clapping, and dancing that these people have.

After the one day race, the Grand Prix San Luis, which was won by UHC’s Hannah Barnes, the stage race began!  Day 1 encompassed a twisty circuit around a lake that was bordered with shirtless men and bikini clad women enjoying BBQ’s and parties.  Racing in 40 degree Celsius being cheered on by people floating in a lake make you reconsider your chosen profession.  Or in this case, let’s call it vacation.  With a cat crossing the road, and a dog running into the sprint finish (no animals, cyclists, or carbon wheels were harmed), it was an adventure of a life time.  Day 2  offered more excitement and chaos that can only be found in hot, early season racing, with a 3rd day in a row with a sprint finish.  Day 3 started and finished in the tourist town of Merlo, which was at the base of a mountain range and was the perfect mixture of European influence, South American flair, and cabanas and natural pools for all.  4 kilometers into the stage was a QOM.  Talk about painful.  The circuit then included river crossing, dirt roads, and twists and turns to finish up a 1 kilometer kicker.  I attacked out of a small break 5k from the finish and soloed into the town of Merlo, up the kicker, and… 100m from the line the select finishing group caught me.  That was so much fun almost winning that race says no one ever.  Day 4 was a 14k time trial, and the minute I finished, I was whisked away into the hot seat where my team joined me in the festivities, translations, and watching the remaining 29 riders finish the time trial.  I lost the TT by .08 seconds.  Yes, 8/100 of a second.  That would have put me in the leader’s jersey, but instead left that stinging burn where you realize that some lessons are learned the hard way.  Day 5 was a quick, windy and mountainous stage and we finally entered the final day of racing, Day 6 of the Tour Femenino San Luis, and the 7th day of racing in Argentina.  It was a circuit through downtown San Luis that was completed five times.  With the GC so close in time, the intermediate sprints were hotly contested.  On the last lap, 13k to go, I attacked with one additional rider and within 10k to go soloed in for the victory of the final day of the tour.  The time gap was not enough for taking the overall GC lead, but I finished 5th overall and after 2 “almost” victories, I was able to represent San Luis, my sponsors, and both teams so proudly.  Xirayas de San Luis also placed 2nd in the Team Classification, and had the best Argentina rider, as well as the best rider from San Luis.  With 2 podium finishes, and 2 jerseys, the team completed the race with success.  The podium celebration involved dancing with the Brazilian team and throwing out swag to the crowd.  It was the best celebration I have ever been able to be part of, and the after party was even better.  Latin dancing with Argentina, BBQ wine, and I think the Brazilians took another podium with their dancing ability.  I think all races should end this with such combining of culture, laughter, and unity.

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It is for moments like this that you realize how important the cycling community is, regardless if you are in California, Argentina, or Minneapolis.  You realize that you always keep racing.  You always keep trying.  In this case, the third time was the charm, but it is not always poetic like that.  But what you really learn is the passion, the love, and the color we have for our sport transcends all continents, languages, and cultural boundaries.  I am already looking forward to this vacation, I mean race, again next year!

Alison M. Tetrick

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies

Breakaway from Cancer®