(photo credit: Brian Hodes / VeloImages)
Last weekend I was in Sun Valley racing mountain bikes. This weekend, it was back to the skinny tires. After an eventful flight late Friday night, I made it to Boise for the Exergy Twilight Criterium. It was my first time racing in downtown Boise.
We fielded a team of six riders. The race is part of both the National Criterium Calendar and the USA Crit Series. Team TIBCO currently leads the NCC in the team competition, so it was important for us to field a strong squad. Also, the race had announced about a month ago that they would offer equal prize money for both men and women. One day this won’t be an anomaly, but while it is, it’s important to us to support the races that support women.
The 1.2 kilometer course was pretty straightforward. It featured four corners, but one corner was more sweeping than sharp, so it felt more like three corners. Nothing too technical.
(photo credit: Brian Hodes / VeloImages)
The race started out pretty aggressively. There were a lot of attacks from the gun. Nobody went anywhere. Twenty minutes into the race, it started raining. The roads were soaked, and two corners in particular immediately turned sketchy. The first corner had bricks, and those are always slippery when wet. I’m not quite sure what was up with the last corner, but it became just as slippery as the first. Our back wheels were sliding out in both corners, and the field slowed (way) down as a result. We raced cautiously while it was raining.
During the downpour, a break of five riders that included Megan Guarnier broke away from the bunch. Kristin McGrath (Exergy Twenty12), Emily Collins (Vanderkitten Focus), Devon Gorry (NOW-Novartis) and Olivia Dillon (NOW-Novartis) joined Megan up the road. We were content with the situation. If sprinters’ teams didn’t like, we would have let them bring back the move if they felt that’s what they needed to do.
Eventually, with around ten laps left to race, it stopped raining. The pace kicked up. Exergy set tempo. They rarely had more than one rider at the front, so they were definitely not drilling it – just setting a steady speed. Inside the final two laps, we began to reel in the break. With slightly more than one lap to race, we caught the break. Just as we made the catch, Ali Powers (NOW-Novartis) jumped, and McGrath managed to grab her wheel.
We were lined up behind Exergy as all this happened. I was just behind Exergy and my teammates were positioned on my wheel. We were waiting for the final lap to hammer it for our leadout. When we caught the break, it reshuffled things in the field. There was a little swarm, so when Ali and Kristin went up the went up the road, we didn’t have anyone in a position to react quickly.
I yelled at Megan to go. She was positioned ahead of me at that point, and I knew I didn’t have enough gas to do a lap long lead out. She picked up the pace, and I was behind her. We drilled it to bring back Ali and Kristin. Unfortunately, they got a good jump, and they’re both riding really strong. We were unable to close in on them.
Kristin outsprinted Ali for the win, and there was a bit of drama when Kristin was relegated shortly after the finish. I don’t know all the details, but it had something to do with a wheel change in the pit after a crash. After the relegation decision was made, officials must have learned additional information because the decision was reversed, and Kristin was declared the winner once again.
As for the field, I came around Megan as we dove into the third turn and led through the final corner. I was first out of the last turn with Lauren Hall on my wheel. Sam Schneider sat just behind Lauren. I thought things looked pretty good for us, but we sort of botched the sprint in the charge towards the finish.
Lauren said she hesitated for a split second as she came off my wheel out of the last corner with 250-300 meters left to race. With the brief hesitation, we slowed when we should have kicked. Lauren ended up third in the bunch sprint, good for fifth overall. Sam was two places further back.
We left Boise behind bright and early this morning, and we just arrived in Bend. The Cascade Classic starts on Tuesday. It’s our last stage race of the season on US soil, and we’re looking forward to making the most of it.