June 7, 2012

Philly, Walls & Olympic excitement

Another weekend, another race. I can hardly keep up with my own schedule! This past weekend was the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia. The Liberty classic is a very famous one-day UCI sanctioned race that has been running now for 19 years. An interesting fact is that an American had never won the race since it began... and that tradition continues. The course follows a circuit right through central Philadelphia and makes its way up the famed Manayunk Wall. The picture I had in my mind after speaking with many cyclists was that this was one heck of a climb. Maxing out at 17%, this climb would make your legs scream for mercy.
This google image gives you a good perspective, I would also like to point out that it continues once you turn left.

My legs did scream for mercy each of the four times up this climb in the race, but I was still relieved it wasn't the literal wall pictured in my mind. It is also amazing what thousands of screaming fans can do for motivation!

Even with this slight obstacle on course to make it hard and whittle down the race, most big teams had their sprinters and wanted to keep the race together for a bunch sprint. We set up a nearly successful lead out coming into the finish. A slight error led to 4th place for me and 5th for Joelle. Close but not quite. Ina was the victor in the end, still no American winner for this American event.

In other exciting news, Cycling Canada recently released the road Olympic selection pool and I'm in it! Canada has three spots for the Olympics, and the final team will be announced in the next couple of weeks...fingers crossed! To see the full press release follow this link: http://www.canadiancyclist.com/dailynews.php?id=24249

photo credit: Jonathan Devich

This weekend I will return to race as defending champ for the Airforce Cycling Classic in Arlington, Virginia! I'm super excited to meet up with team-mates again and to race some crits.


June 2, 2012

Exergy Tour

The Optum p/b KBS team recently wrapped up racing at the very first Exergy Tour in Boise, Idaho. There used to be a very big race in Idaho called the ‘Women’s Challenge’ that ran from 1984-2002. The inaugural Exergy Tour sought to bring women's racing back to the area and did a darn good job!  It was the most professional event I have ever attended; we were treated like superstars for the whole week! Here is a brief summary of the week:


Super fast 2-mile course through downtown Boise. Pulled off a decent time for 20th, Jade was the top finisher in 8th. Canadians ruled the day taking the top 3 positions (it helps to have our track pursuit team racing)!  Race favourite Kristin Armstrong hit the ground and broke her collarbone. Fortunately it sounds like she will be back training in no time.
Oh Canada! photo credit: veloimages

Stage 1. Nampa

Wet roads greeted us for the start of the 123 km road race which featured two times up a short but steep climb. I got away with a group of nine after the first climb and we gained a decent gap. However there were teams who were not too happy with the combo and brought it back. It was a bunch sprint coming into the finish. Lex and Jade threw down some impressive last minute flyers, and Carmen kept me up front in a good position coming into town. The finish was technical and I messed up position a bit to come 4th, a good result but still a hard place to come. The stage win went to Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Exergy) after a very impressive sprint! There was a bad crash with 1 km to go that took down many riders, including Bronzini, reigning World Champ. The team was hungry for a stage win after a very close result.
Idaho is quite beautiful! photo credit: veloimages

Stage 2. Time Trial, Kuna

It was another wet and rainy day for the rolling time trial. Couldn’t really feel my body and cornered like a child, but still pulled off a decent time for 23rd. I'll complain about racing in the rain, but I really don't mind it that much! Amber Neben took the stage win with an impressive ride. Had the most delicious Mexican hot chocolate at the finish that made my day quite happy :). 
photo credit: veloimages My teammates Denise and Joelle passing each other in the rain, good timing!

Stage 3. The Queen's Stage. Crouch to Idaho City

This 93 km course featured an intimidating elevation profile on paper, the stage would include 4500 ft of climbing. Our team attacked like crazy right from the start, but couldn’t get a break going for long. A small break with Janel did end up gaining some time on the climb, but it all came back together descending into the finish. We had our best lead out of the week on this stage. Jade set pace at 3 km out, then Clara from Lululemon took over. Janel absolutely drilled the pace at 1 km to go with Carmen and I behind her. Carmen then led through the final corner with 300 m to go. It was an exhilarating drag race between myself and Ina Teutenberg from Lululemon. I ended up second on the stage, but still excited by our great team effort, and a close finish to the fastest sprinter in the world!

photo credit: veloimages

 Stage 4. Boise

The final stage held on Memorial day was short and hilly (75 km). The race started with some excitement as they had coordinated a jet fly over at the start line! Thousands of people came out to downtown Boise to cheer us on, and fans were dressed up as super heroes, devils and christmas trees out on the course! The shorter stage forced aggressive riding right from the gun. My team suffered a devastating loss about 100 m into the race when a crash took out Courtney and Janel, two of our top climbers. A break got away on the first QOM at 7 km into the race. With Optum not represented, we worked hard to bring it back and get super climber Carmen into a good break. The race shattered as we hit the relentless climbs. Carmen fortunately made the final selection, and Jade and I rode in with the second group. Claudia Hausler (Greenedge) took the win, riding in with Evelyn Stevens (Lulu), overall race winner. Carmen pulled off an impressive 4th place finish and ranked 3rd in the Mountains classification. 
photo credit: veloimages

This last stage really blew apart the field. There were only 34 final race finishers from the initial 103 starters at the beginning of the week! I finished 23rd overall, and ranked 2nd in sprint points classification. 

The whole event ended in true Western fashion with a rodeo, complete with real rodeo competitions, a mechanical bull and chuck wagon food. To top it off we all got sweet belt buckles as a gift from the race!

Check out Tour Tracker site for recaps and commentary from all the stages. Definitely worth checking out if you missed it live! Hope to see more awesome coverage like this for future events.

I'll be racing the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia with the team tomorrow. It is my first time at this race, so I'm quite excited/nervous to experience racing up the famous Manayunk Wall!