(photo credit: Peter Kraiker / studioofstop.com)
I last raced in Elk Grove six years ago, and the race followed a completely different format at the time. While the race venue is somewhat familiar, the courses used this weekend are all new to me – a rarity with the number of years of racing I have under my belt. The Tour of Elk Grove is a three day stage race that includes today’s time trial, a crit on Saturday and a circuit race on Sunday.
The time trial stage was pure power and utterly straightforward. The 4.5 mile course included five turns separated by long, wide open straightaways. Essentially, we took one of the long straight stretches of road away from the start, made a u-turn, headed back from the way we had just come, went out to another branch, made another u-turn, headed back from the way we had just come yet again and repeated the pattern one final time. That was it. Nothing technical. All power. It was a really hot day with a little bit of wind, but neither weather element seemed to factor too much into results.
I felt okay during my warm-up, but I wasn’t really sure what to expect. You might remember that I felt pretty good during both my prologue and time trial at Cascade late last month only to cross the line feeling fairly disappointed with how I had stacked-up in terms of results. Given that, it was difficult to take too much stock in how my legs felt pre-race or when I was out on the course.
I went as hard as I could, which is all anyone can do over a course of this length. I lost focus a few times and had to make a concerted effort to get myself refocused on the task at hand. I remember thinking “I’d really like to stop pedaling now” once or twice. I didn’t stop pedaling. Instead, I pushed harder in response until I eventually crossed the finish line.
I was a late starter, so when I crossed the line in 9:40 and slotted into ninth place, there weren’t too many riders that could push me back. Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), last to finish, posted a quicker time than I had managed, so I dropped back one spot. I was tenth overall and the top finisher for Team TIBCO. I had expected Ali Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) to crush everyone, which was exactly what she did. She finished with a time of 9:06, 12 seconds ahead of her teammate Anne Samplonius. Jade Wilcoxsin (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), two down on Anne, rounded out the podium.
While there are time bonuses up for grabs in both the criterium tomorrow and the circuit race on Sunday, I don’t expect there to be a ton of movement on the overall. The courses don’t offer any real opportunities to create time gaps, so I would be surprised if anything other than time bonuses shake up the general classification – and even then, they shouldn’t shake things up too much. Tomorrow is forecasted to be an ‘oppressively hot’ day, so I suppose that could be a factor – but it seems unlikely the heat would be a major game-changer. Given the current standings, it looks like my teammates (Lindsay Myers, Sam Schneider, Kendall Ryan and Jen Purcell) and I will be racing for stage wins over the weekend.
See my Strava file here.