The Capital Stage Race is among my favorite races and three of my teammates kindly agreed to travel down to Olympia with me to play. After the 3.5-mile stage 1 time trial, we were going into the criterium with three teammates sitting in the Top 10 of the GC, myself included, sitting just one second below the GC leader.
The Capital Criterium is a 0.7-mile loop on and around the Washington State Capitol grounds. It has an uphill finish, a swooping descent, five corners and some rough pavement. The slight uphill is enough of a grade to make it a good place to ramp things up or attack. Given my standing in the GC, we decided to go for the two intermediate time bonus sprints that offered 3, 2, and 1 seconds to the leaders.
The plan was to have teammates Jadine Riley or Marsa Daniel ramp things up on the uphill with me on their wheel. We’d attack out of corner one and I would come around at corner four and sprint to the uphill finish. We did just that. Marsa Daniel put in some hard efforts to gap the pack and I sprinted to claim the time bonus. We managed to do that for both time primes – with that same exact formula – and again for the finish, allowing me to take the win and an additional 6-second bonus. It was fantastic team work and exciting to be able to control a race like that.
With me now sitting in the GC lead, it was crucial for us to make sure that I’d finish the road race – the third and final stage –with the lead pack. The Queen Stage is a 67-mile scenic course with four climbs, rolling hills and a flat out-and-back. The climbs are the defining feature in this course and sure enough, attacks came on every climb. The other teams were more than happy to let Team Group Health do all the pace-setting and chasing so my three teammates put in a lot of work rotating on the front and making sure I was conserving my legs while not letting anyone get away too far.
The pack shattered on the third climb and two racers, Megan Gray (Eddie’s Cycling) and Vanessa Johnson (Starbucks), broke away. With them sitting in third and fourth respectively, we would have to reel them in. But by now, we had lost two of our teammates and only two other racers were willing to do the work to get them back. We reached them with about 10 miles to go, right before the last hill. The lead group stayed together and with only five flat miles to the finish, some teams attempted to shed the GC leaders but were unsuccessful. The lead pack had a sprint finish, and by finishing third, we managed to keep the GC lead.
All around a very fun and successful weekend for Team Group Health.