Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 4: Uptown Minneapolis Criterium

22 Jun

Another late start (6:15pm).  Chances of rain were in the forecast.  I think everybody had their fingers crossed that it wouldn’t rain, because it held off.  We went for a short spin in the AM to loosen things up again.  Then, we did the usual.  Sit around and surf the interwebs, trying to use the least amount of energy possible.

The Course:  It was a pretty flat .8km, 6 corner circuit.  The finish was very slightly uphill.  Otherwise it was a fast crit course.

The Race: Once again, we were still chasing the yellow jersey.  Since we had a few hard races prior to this race, the plan was to sit in and try to conserve for the next two hard days.  A break of 4 went up the road with Shelley Olds (Diadora), Joelle Numainville (TIBCO), Leah Kirchmann (Colavtia), and Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita).  PB & Co. were content to let it go for a while.  Once they got organize, they started chasing.  The gap was slowly coming down.  A few laps later, Lauren Tamayo (PB & Co.) attacked to bridge to the break.  I was near the front, and knew I had to go with.  We made contact with the break and I started working.  Not everyone was pulling through.  Shelley and I were the main drivers, with Joelle and Leah pulling a bit of the time.  Theresa also helped some.  Lauren was sitting on, and eventually dropped back to the peloton to bring the break back.  I sprinted for the intermediate time bonus, and won 5 seconds.  Otherwise, we worked together to maintain a good gap for a while.  Lauren reeled us in shortly after she dropped back to help.  A few riders attempted to break away, but nothing stuck.  We all knew it would come to a bunch sprint.  Heading into the final corner with one-lap to go, a major crash happened.  I was sitting top 20, and saw it happen in slow motion.  Kristin A. and Shelley went wide into the corner.  The fence jogged back in shortly after the corner.  I don’t know exactly what happened, but it sounds like there was either some wheel over lapping happening or the fence caught someone.  Either way, it took down about 35 riders.  I managed to keep myself upright after running over some of the girls that were down.  My bike was underneath a few girls.  I don’t remember hitting the ground.  Must have been my cat-like reflexes 🙂  Evie tucked and rolled, coming out of the crash with minor injuries (some road rash on her shoulder).  Otherwise, we were all lucky.  The officials decided to cancel the stage after bringing 4 ambulances onto the course to take riders away.  All the riders taken to the hospital were released later that evening.  A few broken/bruised bones and some road rash was the result of the crash.  Yes, this kind of thing happens in bike racing.  However, it still puts things into perspective.  Wishing everyone a speedy recovery!

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