Merco Cycling Classic
by Alison Tetrick
Timing is everything. That is so true, especially when competing in a
timed stage race. Suddenly, the world revolves around time, as if
it didn’t before.
Speaking of time, this is the time of year that our race bags become
meticulously packed again and we begin spending more time than we ever
thought possible in the Central Valley. The almond blossoms are
blooming, the grass is turning green, and the bike racing is hot on
the rolling country roads of Merced. Throw in an air mattress and
some compost piles, and it doesn’t get any better than this. The good
thing about early season racing is that you can remind yourself of all
the items that should be habitual in your preparation, and also a
great reminder to your legs what they are supposed to be trained for
this. It’s bike racing time! Are you ready? Doesn’t matter. It’s time.
The overall winner of a stage race is the rider with the lowest
accumulation of time to complete the event. That involves some very
simple math. The faster you go, the less time it takes you to cover
the distance. Then you add another very obvious factor: teammates.
You can count on each other to fill in the gaps for these timed
events, and you don’t have to do it all. The 2013 Merco Cycling
Classic was well represented by most of the US women’s professional
cycling teams, and the race was dictated by team control,
aggressive racing, smart tactics, and sharp calculation of time. Each stage
consisted of a significant breakaway surviving the day, which was all
dependent on the selection of the break and what the teams were
willing to do in order to control the increasing time. Yes, a time
trial is also a break. You are in a solo break and you better ride
fast in order to win. That is your time to shine.
Riding for Exergy TWENTY16 is a great opportunity because of the
varied levels that our team supports. We have juniors, developmental
riders, and Olympians. We can all learn from each other. On the first
day, we had a rider in the break and we were able to plan
accordingly for the following days of racing. The time trial is that
moment of truth where time seems to stand still. Although I was 3rd
for the day, I will always be training and searching for a faster time
through hard work and dedication. However, I did learn that if
someone captures your pain face during the time trial, no matter how
remote the course, you will get tagged on Facebook in a matter of
hours. The better the pain face, the more likes you will receive, and
the faster your time trial will hopefully have been. At least it was
a successful breakaway!
The criterium was also controlled by a break with another one of my teammates present. When we support each other,
we can share the load as we looked at each stage as another chance for
the podium and our team. We didn’t select one teammate, we just rode
as a team. It was pure, simple, and fun.
Timing really is everything. In the last stage, I was in a break
that was flirting with being dissolved by the approaching peloton.
After launching some last minute efforts to keep the momentum going,
it was only one other rider and I going into the last kilometers of
the race with a quickly chasing field. Over each crest of the
rollers, you could see your impending doom behind you. There was no
time to play games, there was only time to drive the pace into the
finish. Did we survive? Barely. Did I win? Unfortunately, I had to take
a hard fought 2nd place for the day. We will win it next time, but
timing really is everything.
I love the Merco Cycling Classic, and I especially love when they give
the professional women the opportunity to race four challenging stages
in the heart of California. I will forever be inspired by Davis
Phinney for personally leading by example and donating personal
funding into the race to exemplify the importance of equality in
women’s cycling. An amazing man and a very touching gesture. My
sincerest gratitude to those who pushed for the women’s stage race to
occur and make this entire week possible; and to my team for their
continual support of us as riders and people.