The Final Stage #WSWC
by Gillian Carleton (Specialized–lululemon)
The final stage of the 2013 San Dimas Stage Race, a technical six-corner crit, was fast and hard from the start. With less than 25 seconds separating the top three on GC and time bonuses available both throughout the race and at the finish, serious attacks were rolling off the front from the very first lap.
After about 15 minutes of hard racing, a solid group including myself and second place GC rider Amber Neben got away, and was working well together to establish a gap. Unfortunately, Exergy-2016 saw their rider Mara Abbott’s overall GC lead starting to shrink, and worked hard to pull it back.
After our break was reabsorbed into the main group, there were some counter attacks made by other teams, each of which was covered by one of my teammates, as I sat at the back of the group and tried to catch my breath and get my legs back for the sprint. With 5 minutes to go in the race, it was apparent that the win was going to come from a bunch kick, and teams started getting their lead outs set up.
Our Specialized-lululemon team was one of the smaller groups at SDSR, and so we knew we had to play it smart and piggyback off another, bigger team’s train. When the bell sounded for the last lap, Optum-KBS made a strong move down the left hand side of the road, setting up a train for their sprinter, Brianna Walle. I was a couple riders back, but saw the chance to start moving up an Optum rider’s wheel, bringing my teammate Loren Rowney with me.
On the backstraight, with less than half a lap to go, I accelerated into the back of the Optum train and then out and around their lead rider, kicking hard on the downhill into the last corner. I looked back for Loren and saw that she’d given me a bit of a gap and was battling with Brianna, and so I put my head down and drilled it into the finish, taking my first ever pro win.
This weekend at SDSR was my first race with my new teammates and it could not have ended on a more positive note. To win a race because of the efforts made by all team members is incredibly rewarding, and sets us up well heading into Redlands in ten days.