This year, I came to the race with much more experience and strength. With a stronger team, amazing support from our staff and just a better knowledge of professional bike racing, I knew this time around would be better. Alison Powers got 7th in the time trial so we knew we had our work cut out for us for the road race and criterium. The morning of our road race, it was pouring rain and 50 degrees, but I didn't mind because the worse conditions the better opportunity for epic racing!
Powers got in the winning break and moved up to 4th on GC. We warmed up from the cold day of racing and prepared for the last day: the criterium. It was aggressive from the start. Anne got in a break of 4, amongst Ina Teutenburg and the rest of the NOW team stayed at the front of the pack controlling the race. With about 7 laps to go, Olivia Dillon took a flyer and almost stayed off the front, but the field caught her and she still managed to do 1 last effort for the lead out train.
Overall, Alison got 4th on GC and Anne got 4th in the stage. We packed up the bus and headed to Redlands, CA.
This is the team warming up under the Taj Mahal (our tent) preparing for the cold/wet/ windy road race. Thank you Kinetic trainers... best way to warm up for this kind of weather!
I was determined to fight the entire race! (Left: Rae Shaw from Exergy2012)
The beginning of the road race, at the front ready to cover attacks and staying safe through the wet weather.
Anne and I have a post race chat.
When we arrived to Redlands I was very excited. We had a great host families, Cerina, and the Pompa Family, who already made us dinner when we arrived, which was amazing because we were all tired, cold, and hungry!
We spent the next few days in Redlands reviewing the courses and I knew from the beginning, it was going to be a hard race. We had a full day of media training, which was very helpful because I can now give an interview and I know the right things to say and words to avoid! We had a great big dinner party at our host family house; it felt like thanksgiving, even Phil Keoghan came to have dinner with us!
Below is a picture of me chopping veggies, that is always my job in the kitchen, and of course, I have to wear an apron if I am going to be cooking!
This is how I like to prepare for a long road race.Stage 2 was a long road race in Beaumont, CA. The stage is mostly downhill with a 3km climb in it so every break that tries to get away, usually comes back on the downhill sections. The finish came to a field sprint and there was no change in GC for us.
Thank you Specialized for making an awesome bike, we love racing on them!
The next day was a crit in downtown Redlands. It was very technical, fast and aggressive. We led out Alison for the mid race time bonus and she got it, so it moved her up to 2nd on GC and 11 seconds separated Alison and Megan Guarnier. We got 4th and 5th on the stage after a nasty crash on the last lap messed up our lead out. Fortunately no NOW riders went down.
Here is a cool picture from Cyclingnews.com I am in the middle of the photo and Ashley James is a couple riders back
The last stage finally came: Sunset Circuit race. We do 9 laps of a 10k circuit that is 2/3 's uphill and a short downhill. It was very hard and there was not much time to recover from the uphill sections. There were so many people from Redlands cheering for us, especially our host family as the race goes right by their house. It was very cool to see the Redlands community come together for bike racing.
Alison stayed 2nd on the GC but she won the stage!!! Last year she shattered her elbow at this race and was out for virtually an entire season. She did awesome, and she won her redemption from last year. Not only did Alison get second on GC, but we won the team overall classification as well!
It is such great start to a season, the next race for us is the Charlotte Criterium! Keep cheering us on!
Great job team!