Boulder Cup: Standing on the Podium With Amy

It was a hard fought battle for the final spot on the podium at the Boulder Cup today. The course at Valmont was tough! It included a little bit of everything: technical sections, hills, loose dirt, lots of pedaling, sand and stairs. It served up far more diversity than the course at the Boulder Reservoir on Saturday – and that sort of variety typically makes for a good race for both the riders and fans.

I had a decent (by my current standards) start. Katie Compton (Trek Collective) went to the front straightaway and drilled it up the first climb. Her fast pace blew things apart right away, and we never saw Katie again. Soon a small ‘chase’ group (I say chase although there was no way we would ever catch Katie) formed and the race was on for second place.

Chloe Woodruff (Crankbrothers) was the next to jump away. When she came by, I had nothing in my legs to respond. Chloe had a fantastic race at the res yesterday so it was no surprise to see her go off the front like that. She quickly opened up a sizable gap on the rest of us. Unless unforeseen circumstances arose, the rest of us knew we were fighting for the last podium spot.

The chase group naturally became smaller and smaller over the first three laps. Eventually, the group was whittled down to Crystal Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits), Kaitie Antonneau (Cannondale) and me.

When I inadvertently opened up a gap on them during my turn on the front, I pushed the pace ever so slightly to extend my advantage, which hovered around 10” until I crashed. (Again.) I went down on the bottom of the steep descent on the backside of the course. In the time it took me to scramble back on my bike, Crystal and Katie caught me. Luckily, I was able to hop back on my bike quickly and close the small gap to Crystal and Kaitie without expending too much extra energy.

I was pretty confident that I could ride away from them later in the race, so I made the decision to let Crystal and Kaitie do the bulk of the work while I recovered a little bit. On the previous laps I knew that I had the quickest legs up the 5280′ run-up so I knew that’s where I’d make my move on the last lap. I knew that whoever came off the stairs first would be the first across the line, so that’s where I wanted to put in my biggest effort.

We kept the pace high on the last lap. Crystal and I gapped Kaitie slightly the last time up the big hill, but she fought her way back to us. As patiently as possible, I sat on until it was time to make my move. Thanks to all the stair running workouts my coach Neal Henderson has subjected me to this season, I felt strong as I dug deep. The effort allowed me jump to the front of the chase group as I ran the stairs.

I had a small gap on Crystal who had a small gap on Kaitie when I hit the gravel. I kept the gas on with the finish line in sight and relatively easily took the sprint for third. I was definitely much happier about my race today than yesterday. A hometown podium always feels extra special.

Thanks to everyone for all the cheers on Sunday. It truly is easier to dig deep when I’m surrounded by encouragement throughout my entire race. You might not be able to tell, but I can hear all of you. Seriously, every little bit helps out there!

Racing in my backyard was extra significant this weekend as we celebrated the life and legacy of Amy Dombroksi. Her presence was everywhere. It was a honor to stand on the podium newly adorned with photos of Amy and all sorts of offerings left for our fallen friend. I had to wipe back tears as I smiled from the third step.

It was a common sentiment. We know we’re better for knowing her and counting her amongst us. We’re heartbroken that she couldn’t stay with us longer.

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