Nature Valley Grand Prix Stage 6: Stillwater Criterium

24 Jun

Phew, this blogging stuff is kind of like stage racing.  Sorry it’s taken me so long to get these posts up.  I guess I could just summarize each race instead of each stage.  Oh well, helps pass the time 🙂

Stillwater.  I love and hate this race every year.  It’s held in a beautiful town along the river in Minnesota.  The fans at this race are awesome.  It’s like the whole town comes out to watch.  It’s a tough stage, and even tougher since it’s at the end of the stage race.

At the start of the stage, Ally was awarded the Carla Swart Sportsmanship award.  I can think of no one who deserved it more.  Ally is the best teammate.  She gives everything she has all the time, on and off the bike.  Shes kind and caring towards everyone.  Carla and Ally were best friends.  It’s been a rough couple of months for everybody, and I know how much it means for Ally to receive this award.  I was very proud of her as she stood on stage and received the jersey.  It definitely made me choke up a bit.

The Course: It goes up, then it goes down.  What more is there to say?  Haha.  Anyway, really…the race starts at the bottom of Chilkoot Hill.  After the hill, it’s false flat until a small little kicker.  Then it goes flat for a few turns, before heading back down.  The downhill is pretty fast with two right hand turns.  If you take it with enough speed and the right line, you don’t have to pedal the section between the turns.  After that, it’s through the start line and back up the hill.  Multiply this lap times 13, and wallah…you have the women’s race!

The Race: With Amber in the yellow jersey, our job was easy…ha, right.  All we had to do was defend the jersey.  How could that be so hard?  The plan was to keep the tempo high the entire race.  Mission accomplished.  All 5 of us were in the front group after the first few laps.  Chloe, Ally, and I took turns pulling on the front after the climb.  Evie set the pace up the climb.  The group whittled down to 10 riders in the later part of the race.  Ally and I still took turns driving the pace after the climb, and Evie set a grueling tempo every time up the climb.  Amber was able to sit in and watch the threatening riders.  A few riders attacked towards the top of the climb on a couple different laps.  However, Evie was on it instantly and it went no where.  With one lap to go, I came off the pace of the lead group.  Evie set a tempo I couldn’t hold.  Evie, Amber, and Ally stayed in the front group.  I don’t know how the finish played out, but Evie came in 2nd behind current world champion, Giorgia Bronzini.  Amber finished shortly behind, only losing a few seconds.  She started the day with 21 seconds.  I came in 40 seconds behind the lead group, completely smashed but satisfied.

It’s amazing when a plan comes together.  Everyone on the team (staff included) was on a mission, the same mission, and that was to get the yellow jersey.  It didn’t matter who was in it.  We just wanted the yellow jersey.  Everyone gave everything the could to help get the yellow jersey.  It started back on Stage 1 during the time trial.  Every stage after that played an important role in our success.  At the end of the race, Amber finished 1st in G.C.  Ally finished 4th, Evie 5th, me 9th, and Chloe 24th.  That’s 3 in the top 5, 4 in the top 10, and 5 (all of our riders) in the top 25.  Nice!  Our results lead to us winning the team G.C.  Ally also received the best young rider award, with me coming in 2nd.  Words cannot describe how cool of a feeling this was.  To see all the hard work and dedication everyone put into this was amazing.  And by everyone, I mean riders and staff.  The staff we have are truly the best in the world.  So on top of things and dialed in.  I am proud to be a part of it, and this team.

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