Team Director Susannah Gordon checks in with a race report from Redlands- the first stage race of the NRC calendar. With a field stacked with talent, it certain to be a shootout for the entire race.
In her own words...
Just wanted to let everyone know how Redlands ended up for the team. We had an amazing experience that we will build on for our next race. With the help of Kori Seehafer and Kristen LaSasso, both of whom guest rode for us, we made our presence very well known. Unlike San Dimas, we lucked out and had amazing weather all 4 days. Sunshine and warm temps made for a great race.
The prologue was a success with Alisha ending up in 6th place, only 15 seconds off the race leader. Emily came in 11th and Kristen was 18th. 3 in the top 20 was as good as any of the top teams. This set our team up for a 6th place team GC.
Stage 1 was the road race in Beaumont.. Usually this stage is windy, but not this year, another fantastic day for a bike race. Our goal as a team was to have Alisha win the QOM competition. There were 3 QOM laps, the team did a great job of surrounding her and leading her up to the first QOM climb but unfortunately, she was outsprinted at the line. No points and the field splintered at this point. The girls up and over the hill first made the selection on the crazy and technical downhill portion. Alisha, Emily and Kristen were fortunate enough to have been up front. The pace was furious going back into Beaumont where the sprint and time bonuses were given out on all laps at the finish line. Kori and Jackie worked their way back to the peloton and the process happened all over again. This stage is a 24 mile loop that they do it 3 times. After the final climb going into the last lap, the remaining field exploded again. Only 28 riders of the initial 72 were in this field. It was a crazy finish and Emily ended up 8th, Kristen 14th and Alisha 21st. All a pack finish. So Alisha held on to her 6th place GC.
We had an amazing plan for the crit, and it worked……right up until 3 corners to go. The team did an amazing job of controlling the front of the race, they were all up front. Jackie and Alisha attacked about half way through and when the field caught them, Kori countered with an attack and got off the front for about 2 laps. When the field caught them, Kristen and one other NOW rider attacked, and at one point had a 45 second lead. They buried themselves to hold onto the break, it was so exciting as this move went into 5 laps to go. The crowd was going crazy. The rest of our team in the peloton were attentive to the fact that the peloton was gaining on this break and were up front and ready to counter attack. At 2 laps to go, they swarmed Kristen and absorbed her back in the field. The team did a great job of getting the lead out train going for Nicky, as she was set up to sprint for the finish. Going into the last lap, Jackie, Emily, Liza and Kori were in formation with Nicky waiting patiently for her time. This course is super technical with 9 turns and some are more than 90 degrees. With 3 corners to the finish, Nicky launched her attack. Surprising the field she got way out front and took the corner too hot. She went down and skid across the street. Thankfully she was out in front enough that she didn’t take anyone out with her. We were so bummed, as she most likely would have won the stage. She was 200 meters from the finish…ugh! Bike racing is dangerous! She needed some stitches in her hand, but was OK other than that. (Bike was OK thank goodness!)
Stage 3 was the infamous Sunset Loop road race. Our goal for the day was a stage podium. It was Alisha and Emily’s day to shine. Lots of climbing and truly a race of attrition. They do the 8 mile loop 8 times. The group started off great, all of them up front. It got hot from the start, as the time bonus and QOM competition are on the very first lap at the TOP of the hill! So all the teams were up front taking their climbers and GC riders up the climb to try and win these competitions. Our goal was to stay up front and make the selection. After this first lap, half the field was gapped by 2-3 minutes. We were fortunate enough to have Emily, Kristen and Alisha all up front. Alisha was having some mechanical issues, and was getting dropped on the descents. She had to work so hard to catch back on to the front on the climbs, that she eventually was dropped and went back to the chase group. This was a super hard stage, with only 21 ladies finishing the race. All other groups were pulled from the course. It was a crazy finish, with the girls who needed to win to keep their GC standing having their teams working hard up front. Kristen blazed in with the top group and ended up 8th, with Emily shortly behind her. It was a good day of racing.
Unfortunately, Alisha lost her 6th place GC after this stage. Kristen ended up 11th and Emily 13th. We ended up 6th in the team GC out of 12 teams. We had moved into 5th after the crit, but with Alisha out of the last stage, we dropped back down.
I was really proud of the girls, as this was really their first race as a team. They worked hard on staying together up front and working as a cohesive team. They looked amazing. Did a great job of bringing back attacks, counter attacking and controlling the front of the peloton when they could. We have a lot to learn, but we also learned a lot! Had a great time and we are looking forward to Sea Otter next month!
We're super proud of the team and their hot start to the season. They continue to develop into one of the best women's teams in the US- we're excited to see what the rest of the seaon holds for them.