(photo credit: Manel Lacambra)
Things could not have gone any better for Team TIBCO on stage two of Joe Martin. Shelley took the stage win. Claudia rounded out the podium to earn four bonus seconds. On top of the time bonus, she had a small gap over both Ali Powers (NOW) and Lauren Stephens (FCS), so she distanced her closest overall rivals by an additional two seconds. That’s another six seconds in hand heading into stage three.
It rained heavily, the thunder cracked and the lightning lit up the sky repeatedly all morning, it even hailed. We sat at the breakfast table wondering how miserable our day on the bike would be. At the starting point we prepared for the cold and wet by putting every layer of clothing we had on – I wore a wool undershirt, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, wind vest and wind jacket. And we all put Saran wrap over our shoes (and under our booties) to keep our feet dry and warm – a first for me.
Minutes before we started, Mother Nature decided there had been enough rain for the day. The roads were still wet, but we weren’t rained on, for which we were very thankful. However, the winds had kicked up making the temperature feel even colder than it really was.
From the start TIBCO was on the front keeping Claudia sheltered from the wind and chaos behind. As predicted, the race stayed together until the mid-race climb. Heading into the hill, NOW began to pick up the pace. They launched several attacks, but none made any significant gains on the field. A small group of three opened a small gap just over the top of the climb, but it came back together within a couple of km over the flat part after the climb. NOW continued to make the race hard on the descent, but again nothing was able to sneak away.
Lauren Rauck Komanski (NOW) was the only rider to get away for any significant time all day. Her gap hovered within 10-25 seconds, but she was always within reach. The pace started to pick up in the closing kilometers as teams began fight for the front to set up for the technical finish inside the last 1.5 km. Lauren was back in the field so it would come down to a bunch sprint.
Our efforts were focused on the technical, fast finish. The lead-in to the finish begins with a left hand turn followed by a quick right onto a short, punchy hill. From there it’s narrow, fast and rolling until the uphill finish. Our objective was to keep things as fast as possible here. Each person was asked to take a 300 metre pull, and the end of the pull was her finish line. Our end game involved coming out of the final corner with Shelley in front of Claudia and Claudia in front of Jo.
As expected Ali Powers jumped through the last corner first, and Shelley got on Ali’s wheel. When Ali began to lose steam, Joelle Numainville (Optum) jumped, and Shelley marked her move. When Joelle lost her steam, Shelley came around to take the stage win. Joelle hung on for second, and Claudia finish third. The stage podium finished two seconds ahead of the next group of three that included Ali Powers, Lauren Stephens and Maura Kinsella (NOW).
Our plan worked perfectly. Claudia has a little more cushion in the overall but not enough that we can sit back on our laurels. There are still two hard stages to come and NOW will fight to the bitter end.
Stage 3 is another lumpy stage. It looks like a lollipop on paper as we ride out to do two laps of a rolling circuit before riding back to the start/finish. On the circuit we face a hill that people refer to as ‘the wall’. Over the top of that climb it continues on as a false flat for awhile. Here it will be strung out as attacks typically fly. Historically the field always regroups before the finish. It’s a wide open sprint designed for the pure sprinters. Our goal will be to prevent any of the threatening GC riders from taking bonus time on the line. Luckily, we have several sprinters who can take the win and the time.
[...] Joe Martin Stage Race – we really liked Meredith Miller‘s race reports – Stage 1, Stage 2, Stage 3 and Stage [...]