September 22, 2012
It was my first time in Boston to participate in this race but The TD Bank Mayor’s Cup earns a lot of support and respect from our team. Yes, it was the final event on the National Criterium Calendar and yes this was a national racing series that our team would win the individual overall in; however, the most special thing about this race is that they offer equal prize money for the women as they do the men. That my friends, is a gold star in our book and what women’s cycling needs and welcomes with open arms.
The race course was centered near City Hall, the temperature was cool and the vibe was electric with cycling enthusiasts and racers geared up for the racing on tap. Before I go any further I need to give a shout out to Val and Josh were the best hosts a girl could ask for. They did a great job making sure I had everything I needed to do well. Their track racing background offered me the best number pin job and their two awesome cats Tommy and Aesop who are special house panthers. Turns out Val is a good luck charm but we’ll come back to that later.
Because my win in the NCC was locked in, it was a real treat to enter the with the ability to simply “race” rather than focus on the NCC and who may or may not over take my lead. The women’s field was solid with a team of four Optum Pro Cycling girls. Jade Wilcoxson has been racing well and I knew she was one to watch. Also racing was Lauren Tamayo (Exergy), fresh off her silver medal at the London Olympics.
From the gun Optum threw down. Janel Holcomb made an early solo attack and was off the front for a good majority of time. She was gobbling up the primes like a champ. Though I hadn’t raced Boston before, I knew how to dissect a course. Word on the street was that the previous races had all ended in field sprints. The wind on the course offered me feelings of patience. There was enough horse power in the field, despite Janel’s great effort and 30-second gap, for her to be reeled back in. The gap shrank to about 5 seconds coming into 13 laps to go. The other Optum girls were covering and killing moves, doing as little work as possible. An untimely crash with 12 laps remaining caused quite the ruckus. Many riders went down, myself included, though I didn’t suffer much damage. It was my first crash for 2012; what a huge disappointment to go down in the 2nd to last race of the year! I made it to the pit with others. Once I realized I wasn’t severely hurt, I pulled my bike off of Jade (she went down in front of me) and checked it out. I cruised to the pit for my free lap. Lyne Bessette was taken out pretty hard and was back boarded out. When I got my push back in, the field had been neutralized for a few laps while the course cleared.
We got going again with 10 laps to go. Officials gave Janel her 5 second lead and started the field again just after. She was quickly brought back. With less than 10 laps remaining it would now be a field sprint. A few late attack efforts were made without success; I knew LVG or Jade would be key in the sprint. With only two laps or so left, Optum’s Holcomb got to the front to lead out Jade. I was patient coming down the back straight when Jade jumped going into turn 3. It was slightly uphill between 3 & 4 and a very short sprint from the last turn to the finish line.
I got on her wheel immediately. She is tough and went hard. Going into turn 4, I jumped; Jade kicked it again. Sprinting as hard as we could we hit the line, my wheel just passing Jade’s, touching the white tape first. I had won Boston, the final NCC event and beat the Optum squad of 4 while on a solo mission. This was the second time that happened for me this year, the other time in the Sunny King Criterium (where Val was also present hence the good luck charm!) after making the break with 3 Optum riders and LVG. Optum is a great team with strong riders. It’s been fun racing against them and when I am lucky enough to pull off a win, it’s nothing short of exciting for our team and sponsors. (Colleen and Lenore were racing Collegiate Track Nats and Worlds respectively).
I have to say that Boston was really special for me. Winning the final NCC event for the team was a lot of fun and proved our ability to be competitive. Beyond the general thrill, I found out on Friday before Boston that a dear friend of mine had passed away. He was a special man, a really good guy. It was extremely sad news for those of us who knew him. I wanted to win for him, for Jay- for “Allar’s Army”. When it all came together, (especially after crashing) I couldn’t contain myself. It was an emotional finish and I wouldn’t have it any other way. So Jay, Boston was for you.
I am sure you’ve heard it before. I have heard Jame Carney say it and recently Kristin Armstrong said it: “You’re only as good as your last race”. Of course I wanted to finish the season with a win but the team rocked out in 2012 and we were going to be crowned the USA CRITS Series champs in Vail, CO the following week. I traveled to CO where I met Jame, Lenore and Colleen who was fresh off of winning collegiate track nationals. Our team has always supported the USA CRITS Series. They do a great job by the women and our team believes in supporting those who support women’s cycling.
This is the first year for the finals in Vail. NOW brought Alison Powers who is always one to watch. Within the first 6 minutes of the race, the attacks started. Powers covered Schultz’s (Paceline Projects p/b Veloforma) and I followed. We had a break and the gap opened to 30 seconds quickly; we don’t meet often but we all agreed to work. Each break mate had team members in the field so the gap grew quickly until we eventually lapped. $1,000 was up for grabs in primes. While off the front, Powers tested her sprinting skills, winning most of the primes as I calculated the finish. I’ve never been one to go for primes; I would much rather try to win the race. It’s my personal opinion that our team looks good on the top step.
Once we lapped the field I knew what I had to do. I had to make sure Powers (NOW) and Schultz didn’t go anywhere without me. We were guaranteed a top 3 but with friends in the crowd and given it was the last race of the year, I wanted to win for our team; I wanted us to go out on top. Powers and Schultz made valiant efforts to break away from the field. I covered the moves but decided not work the effort knowing a bunch sprint was better for me and my style of riding. It would give me the best chance at winning for the team. A Kenda, with a late attack, stayed away solo to earn herself a 4th place finish.
Carney, our director, was visible on the back side giving me important information about the finish. It was short to the finish line, almost too short. Dissecting the prime sprints proved the jump was key. It was 1 lap to go and I was on Powers. I knew I had to get the jump into the last turn. I bursted out of the saddle on the inside and it was nearly too late. Powers jumped at the same time and we raced to the last turn, me between Powers and barriers. You’re only as good as your last race, right? I wanted to win so I held my ground; it was nearly too late. I held my ground and didn’t give way. I made it to turn 4 first. Once I cleared the turn I sprinted to the line crossing it first and securing the win for RIDECLEAN/PatentIt.com.
A side note: once Powers and I crossed the line we were cruising the course back around to the home straight. There was quite a large gap when Powers looked at me and said “Where is everyone? I hope they didn’t fall down.”
As Alison and I looped back to the finish I saw the RIDECLEAN/PatentIt.com team colors getting picked up off the ground. A woman had crashed in the finish taking out both of our team mates. Colleen was set to finish 5th or so but her baseball slide didn’t make it across the line. She still crossed the line for 10th, road rash and all. The crash happened right in front of Lenore (who was also involved in the big crash at road Worlds) but snuck around for 6th.
We ended 2012 with a 1st, 6th, 10th and some road rash but as the USA CRITS Series team champions. It has been such a pleasure racing with these girls and I was honored to stand on that podium with them. We also took home 1st and 3rd in the USA CRITS Series individual classifications.