This past weekend, CAWES made our way to Washington County, MD, for the first big team Stage Race of the year.
Day one was the Road Race...5 laps of a 10 mile circuit.
With the heat and humidity rising and the field stacked with riders, it was guaranteed to be a tough race. The course was tough with some big climbs and a lot of false flats and a few places with some wicked head and cross winds.
Attacks were launched from the start - by us and others - and the gauntlet was definitely down - this was going to be a tough weekend of racing! The field was strung out right from the start and the first time up the big climb served to really put the pain onto the riders in the peloton. Numerous attacks came along the road to the finish, including a few that left riders dangling off the front or forced a big chase from riders who got a bit caught out. There was very little sitting in during the 30 mile Road Race and CAWES managed to have a good showing with Sonja coming in 6th, Sarah 9th, Michelle 19th and Alaina and Christina in 29th and 30th.
Day two included the Individual Time Trial and Crit race.
The Time Trial was a great, rolling course, with some long, steady drags up and some fast descents to make up for it. It was a good course to really spin up the hills and grind down the other side.
We were feeling pretty good going into the morning's event - thinking that Sonja's TT'ing might serve to move her up in the standings. The results proved to be surprising and exciting for us, with 3 CAWES riders in the top 6! Sonja was 6th, Alaina 4th and Sarah 3rd. Michelle had a great showing with another top 20 finish! Chicken went Eddy Merckx style with no aero equipment and still posted a great finishing time! A really exciting result from the TT was that we now had 2 riders in the Top 5 of the GC. Sarah had moved up to 3rd and Sonja was sitting comfortably in 5th.
The Crit was going to be tough - as the rider in 4th was just 7 seconds behind Sarah. We had our work cut out for us in trying to reign in this awesome Syn-Fit rider Laurel Larsen who is seriously Strong-Like-Bull! WOW.
The Crit was a really fun course that was challenging. With the field again attacking from the line, the pressure was on to maintain our position on the podium. The attacks were furious and, on occasion, riders were getting off the front. Jen Rasmusson launched a flyer at one point and soloed for quite a few laps before we pulled her back in. At one point, Sarah, Leslie Jennings, Jen and Laurel Larsen (the top 4 in the GC) pulled away from the field and had a bit of a break. It didn't stick, unfortunately, and they were pulled back in. The team worked REALLY hard to keep an eye on Laurel and make sure that she wasn't getting too many bonus seconds. This was very hard to do, as she is so strong. She managed to pick up 6 bonus seconds, putting her only 1 second behind Sarah leading into the finish.
In the end, Sarah managed to conserve her podium place and finished 3rd in the GC by 1 second. Sonja held on to her spot of 5th, giving CAWES two finishers in the top 5.
The general consensus of all of the riders at the ToWC was that it was some of the hardest racing that they had ever done. The competition was steep, the courses were fun but tough, and the heat just gave us an added challenge.
One more special shout out to Mike Birner - our favorite Director - for his win in the Men's 35+ Road Race! And, if I am not mistaken, he was 2nd in the Crit! Way to go, Mike!
The long awaited Liberty Classic 2010 has come and gone! It was a whirlwind of a weekend, that's for sure. We had a GREAT time and have lots of good stories to tell from the race.
I should start by saying that we had two fantastic guest riders joining our team for the race - Arley Kemmerer (Team CARD) and Jennifer Tetrick (Team Fuji). Arley and Jen joined Sonja, Mitch, Sarah and Alaina for the line up on a hot and humid Sunday morning in Philly to cross wheels (not literally, of course) with the national champions of Germany, New Zealand, Australia and the United States and notable riders like Evie Stevens and the amazing Jeannie Longo.
The grueling 57 mile race goes up the 17% average grade Manayunk Wall, the long steady climb of Strawberry Mansion Hill and the fan crowded popper, Lemon Hill four times each. Taking these three notable climbs and combining them with an amazing field of professional and elite women, this race is easily the most difficult one day race in North America.
123 women started their engines at 9:10 am on a day with temperatures that would reach into the 90s. Of the 22 teams that would start the race, only 5 would have all riders cross the finish line!
For CAWES, it was a day of ups and downs. Jen had a scary incident with her rear tire, which EXPLODED as we descended from Manayunk back down to Kelly Drive. While the flat (and her subsequent meeting with the pavement) kept her from finishing the entire race, she showed an amazing amount guts and spirit by getting a wheel change and getting back in there!
Sarah and Arley both finished the race in a small group off the back of the front field taking 75th and 77th places overall. Sonja worked hard to finish all 4 laps, but was not given a place in the end. :( According to us, she was definitely a finisher on this one!
Mitch and Alaina both raced their hearts out, but were pulled by the officials before finishing the race.
All in all, CAWES put their best wheel forward on Sunday. We had a great time together and really enjoyed ourselves out there. If there's one thing I can say...we had the BEST fans and SAG crew imaginable!
Thanks to Mike Birner for his amazing directing - having your voice in our ears was excellent!
Thanks to Dan Hoover for his maniacal mechanic and fantastic feeding skills. You hand off a Gu better than anyone I know!
Thanks to Sara, Lisa, Barb, and Julie of Sturdy Girl Cycling for being an amazing tent set-up crew. We got THE best tent out there because of you ladies!
Thanks to Mike and Justin for giving us bottles when we were about to drop from the heat! A cold one in the hand was a glorious relief!
And finally, thanks to our sponsors for making this race possible for us!
Jen - coming up Kelly Drive
Sonja - nearing the top of the Manayunk Wall
Mitch - tearing her way up Lemon Hill
Sarah - leading a small group up Lemon Hill (with Arley off to the right!)