I was eager to use the 3’s race as an opportunity to try some stuff out and get a better handle on racing. Marley loaded me up with some great pre-race advice, Luna Bars, and I was off with 30 other women!
Metromint had the largest team representation and launched some solid early attacks on what was an otherwise pedestrian pace. While the field was quick to chase, the attacker was also quick to sit up and no one was willing to counter. I knew it was too early and I needed to be patient.
On lap three a woman attacked on the roller past the bridge. I had a ton of momentum coming off the descent, carried it through and countered hard. I got a big gap quick and while not completely rational, committed and buried myself to create as much of a gap as I could so I could settle in on the headwind section to the feed.
I thought I was in good shape when I crested the finish hill and the peloton hadn’t turned onto the finishing straight. I was able to crest the second roller into the headwind before they hit the first and stay out of sight. I thought if I could just make it through the feed there would be plenty of opportunity to hide on the rollers on the backside of the course. It was such a welcome sight to see Susannah at the feed with encouraging words, but the wind had gotten the best of me. I spun up the hill, integrated into the pack and took on some nutrition. Almost immediately after they caught me there was a lull in the pace, and in hindsight I should have countered myself 🙂
With about 2 miles to go a Metromint launched an attack that no one responded to, and I regrettably took too long to do so. Not being content to race for second, I did everything I could to chase her down. I hit the remaining turns first wheel carrying as much momentum as I could, kicked out of the corners and was able to string things out, but couldn’t quite get off the front. While I didn’t set myself up well for the finish, I managed to pull off 7th and hopefully got smarter about a few things 🙂
Really looking forward to Merco and hanging on for dear life!
Typical Snelling, opening road race for the season, four Folsom Bike/Cervelo riders to start, great team meeting with race director Judd VanSickle to review wind direction, tactical lans and the needed encouragement to head to what was sure to be a grueling day. Today would be no exception with most of the peloton making final fitness preparations for Merco the following weekend. The pro race field was sure to be stacked with four Now/Novartis, Taylor from Specialized, Ali Sterns from Exergy, a full squad of eight Pinnacle riders and a few Metromint, Fremont Bank and Los Gatos in the mix all guaranteed to keep the pace fast and eventful.
Lap one proved uneventful, which was honestly nice to get a feel for the course again, asses the wind and warm up! Laps two through four had higher speeds through some sections, mini attacks on the rollers and a fun kick up through the tail wind section! Multiple riders launching fruitless attacks in an effort to create separation, factors of both field strength and wind guaranteed they were all quickly chased and brought back. Unfortunately we lost our own Kira a long the way on lap three with a mechanical and dropped chain to her bike that proved to be a deal breaker for her race completion. Sunny Townsend and Fiona Strouts from Folsom Bike however kept key position through the first four laps, protected from the wind yet in great position to chase and stay connected and active within any movement from the field. I was very happy to keep close proximity to them so we maintained position for anything that could and would inevitably get away. The field seemed to be slimming with each lap, but not enough.
I knew the key players all needed to be dialed in to any selection for it to stick. As race director Judd VanSickle advised, ‘no Now rider, no go’. Late in to lap four in the final cross wind section before turning into the tail wind section an attack was made by a Pinnacle rider. I had a good feeling about it with Exergy, Now and Specialized all on my wheel. I quickly followed her wheel as did Ali Sterns, Specialized and a few Now riders, we started to organize.The mad separation was being created and the pack was being trimmed to just ten riders which also included three riders from Pinnacle and Molly from Metromint. Once we made a turn in to the final bumpy section prior to the finishing turn I discovered a teammate Fiona was close behind and also making her way into our selection. I was confident I could help get her close to the break and she could fight with Molly Van Howling and reconnect to what I felt would become the final break. An attack was made from a rider in the break and a gap was formed between Fiona and Molly from Metromint. I then made an effort to jump past a now dangling Fiona and make an effort to chase down the break that was making progress up the road. We both fought in the wind to try and re-connect to the break but their organization now proved effective to getting up the road and ahead of us. Molly and I worked together in the start of lap five, quickly picking up a detached Pinnacle. She attached herself to Molly and I and was clearly intending to sit in our two man chase with two teammates up the road in the break. She now had the protection from Molly and the wind, the head wind was getting the best of me. They accelerated away from me and I quickly became gapped by a few yards by what proved to be a significant increase the wind speed.
Lap five and struggling to maintain control of my bike through the heavy winds I found myself heading into the feed zone one final time. Running low on fluids I could not have been more pleased(Ok thrilled) to see Susanna Breen in her glowing hot pink Folsom Bike sweatshirt who had tirelessly remained out in the elements of the feed zone the entire race! Once again she was there with my bottle and encouraging words. It motivated me to continue to do battle solo. The remainder of lap five was a combination of heavy wind, tired legs and a constant stream of riders who had been shelled from various men’s fields still remaining on the course. I was able to keep Molly and the Pinnacle rider within my sites but not willing to chase down their now successful two man chase behind the break of 6. So I finished lap five, head down, determined to finish and not be consumed by the smaller fragmented groups chasing close behind. The final right hand turn and punchy kicker to the finish was a welcome sight and an opportunity to finally get out of the wind and put Snelling behind me. Fiona and Sunny both finished close behind and after 62.5 miles it was time to go collect my Velo Promo t-shirt and make the long journey home even more determined to train and get ready for the next race. Could not have been more thrilled with the performance of the Cervelo in the heavy wind and sturdy Easton wheels on the rough roads.
Eleven women lined up for the cat 3 race on a course with some technical features, rollers and wind. My chances of winning a sprint are pretty slim, and I knew my best bet would be to try to get into a break. While I was able to string things out through the more technical features at points, I wasn’t able to make anything stick off the front. I sat in on the last lap and tried again up one of the last hills with 1k to go. As it turns out, I needed to go earlier and was quickly swallowed up with no gas.
Round two. Eleven women lined up for the 90 minute P 1/2/3 race. I was excited when I heard that Flavia Oliveira would be racing, and given the small field size felt the propensity to cover all of her moves. Flavia launched several attacks early on which everyone quickly covered, but at about 30 minutes in coming off of the 180 turn there was hesitation, and five of us got away. Towards the end of the grueling hour I started to fall apart and Flavia started attacking. With two laps to go she attacked up a hill and we lost one of the riders. I knew I couldn’t pull anymore, but had enough to stay on and cover the attacks. Flavia started to hang back on the last lap and everyone slowed in anticipation. She went hard into the 180 turn with a few miles to go and was gone, blowing up the break. I rolled in 4th barely intact 🙂
This race was much less eventful than the Folsom Winter Crit, but besides Claire and I there were a number of different teams, including three or more riders from NOW Novartis, Fremont Bank, and Vanderkitten, so there was promise of a fast race. It was a warm but fairly windy day, and the course has what morphs into a decent climb after the 40th time around, so I was excited to see what was going to happen. Unfortunately, after the first few laps things slowed down, and there were very few attempts to attack and counter-attack from any of the teams with multiple riders. Alison Tetrick and another pro rider were heavily watched, and if they made a move everyone was on it immediately-which is great- but I rarely saw any continuation:
something was chased back and the pace resumed what it already had been. The primes made things a little more interesting, but there was not much follow-through on the downhill side to create any sort of split. It came down to a field sprint where correct position would make it or break it, and since I lost my position it definitely broke it for me. I was tired from being in the break with Marley the previous day and I wasn’t super stoked on how the race had played out, especially with teams of multiple riders not working as well together as they could have, but that’s bike racing. I missed the podium by a few places coming in 8th, and Claire came in close behind me, she had done a wonderful job during the race moving up, staying in the draft, and powering up the small climb every lap.
Began like any other. The first lap went by pretty quick with everyone dusting off their crit racing legs for the first time in several months. However the pace soon slowed as if everyone was waiting for someone else to attack but not wanting to be the one to do it. Then I saw a Folsom Bike kit launch an attack, which I’m pretty sure was Marley but I could be mistaken. As the peleton scrambled to bring her back and she was about to be swallowed up again, another Folsom Bike jersey attacked. This attack and counter attack strategy worked quite well to keep things moving, and in my opinion we were very efficent at sharing the work. There were a few attacks from other teams as well, and I saw Sunny running a blocking maneuver on numerous occasions, slotting into second or third wheel to isolate the chasers while using very little energy. During a counter attack, I launched myself off the front as another rider was coming back, and when I looked back for a chase I saw that I had a sizable gap. I figured I should run with it until I was brought back allowing my team mates to rest, so although I was pretty wasted from my attack effort (Judd says attack like you mean it or not at all so that’s what I did) I tried to keep my pace up as best I could. After two agonizing laps being able to see the peleton not chase, I finally saw Marley jump clear off the group without taking anyone with her and I rejoiced to myself, though I can’t exactly remember as I was still deep in the pain cave. Once Marley caught me and we started time trialling around the course, I knew there would be a motivated chase group, but I also knew Sunny and the others from Folsom Bike would be there to block for us as best as they could and enjoy the free ride around the course. I think all this occured roughly half way through the race, but I can’t remember precisely; I only remember that it took significantly longer than I wanted to see lap cards. We ended up 1,2,3, with Sunny winning the field sprint to top off our break.
Full results available on USA Cycling
Congratulations to Claire Morgan for placing 4th in the Women’s P/1/2/3!
Amy and Claire headed to Napa to race in Napa after racing the Bicycles Plus Criterium Saturday! Amy placed 8th!
Our ladies did an outstanding job, taking all three spots on the podium! 1st Amy Chandos, 2nd Marley Smith, and 3rd Sunshine Townsend! Way to go!
Kira Prokopakis raced at the Central Coast Circuit Race Series this past Saturday and won the field sprint, earning a spot on the podium! Great job Kira!