August 13, 2012

August in Asheville

I'm currently hanging out in Asheville, NC getting in some amazing training rides with teammates. Pretty sure I've covered more elevation in the week than I've seen in a month in Winnipeg, but the wind is the prairie hill equivalent, right?

Asheville is a really cool hippy town with tons of great riding. There is a huge statewide system of paved highways, the Blue ridge parkway offers some especially amazing views.

Courtney, myself and Emma at the top of Mt.Mitchell
To bring you up to date, The Tour of Elk Grove went quite well for the team last weekend and was once again an epic battle to the very end!
Kinda cool to get #1 as defending champ
The prologue started out well with Jade the highest Optum rider in 3rd, and I  pulled off a repeat performance to last year with a 7th place finish. We had our work cut out for us since NOW and Novartis riders were crowding the front of results.

Stage 2 featured a 60 minute twisty criterium. The team did a great job helping set up Jade to take time bonuses. There were two sprints for points, and the overall points winner got 3 seconds, 2nd=2 seconds, 3rd= 1 second. The original plan was to set me up for the final sprint where I might have a better shot against the sprinters and could help take time bonuses away (10, 6, 4 seconds). In a moment of disorganization in another team's lead out, Jade attacked into the final two corners and gained a sizable gap! I went to go with her, but quickly realized this was a great opportunity. I sat near the front ready to go if she was brought back. Jade pulled off an absolutely amazing finish and held her gap all the way to the line!  The finish time bonus and intermediate sprints put her only 1 second off of Alison Power's in GC. The men also won their stage after a huge thunderstorm passed through the area, overall a great day for Optum.

We all knew Stage 3 was going to be intense with only 1 second separating the gc. We had to ride fully committed as a team to have any chance for the overall. Stage 3 was a circuit race that featured the 3 u-turns of the prologue, along with an extra twisty section thrown in for good measure to make a 10 km course. There were two sprints for points/time at the end of the 1st and 2nd laps, then bonus seconds at the finish. The team once again rode strong to keep the race together and lead Jade into the bonus laps. Jade won both the sprints, but Powers placed second, exactly tying them on time. Powers would win if we didn't get any more time at the finish. The finish was quite chaotic. One of our riders unfortunately turn one turn too soon on the final lap which did cause a crash in the field. Mistakes do happen in racing, and are even more likely when riding completely maxed out. I managed to find Jade and gave her a final lead out up the finish straight where she once again powered to a stage win, also claiming the overall race victory! A fantastic reward for the team's commitment and effort during the weekend.
Jade in Yellow!

I'm off to Aspen for a crit on the 22nd. Should be exciting as it will be held at the finish of one of the men's US Pro Challenge stages. Unfortunately the full women's stage race had to be shortened to just a criterium due to lack of sponsorship, but it should still be a great event. Anyone know any potential sponsors for next year's event?


August 3, 2012

Back racing and loving it

Hey guess what, I'm back racing! Last weekend was my first race back with the team since breaking my collarbone 6 weeks ago at Nature Valley. It is so great to be back with teammates and getting some racing into my legs. My teammate Jade pulled off an impressive 2nd place in Grand Rapids, and we dominated the smaller Sammy's St.Charles Prairie state crit the next day. Jade lapped the field, Lex beat out her breakaway partner, and I won the field sprint for 4th with a lead out from our director Rachel and Jade. Pretty fun times. Jade and Lex also won a corn cob along with their podium flowers, there are a lot of corn fields in the Illinois area.

We took a day off in between racing to enjoy Chicago! Highlights include:

an architectural boat tour right through downtown Chicago,

 A visit to the Cloud gate sculpture,

Eating deep dish Chicago pizza,

Watching a Cubs game,

And a drive through the Batman tunnel! 
google images

Overall, quite a wonderful day spent with teammates!


I'm now at the Tour of Elk Grove. Racing starts today with a prologue, a crit on Saturday and circuit race on Sunday. I have my work cut out for me as last years defending champion where it came down to an exhilarating finish (recap here). Optum is looking to defend the title, so the other teams better watch out!