Being a part of the first Women’s UCI WorldTour race in the United States was so rad as a team, as a rider…as part of women’s cycling history. The field’s caliber was such high quality, it was being likened to an “Olympic preview” for this summer’s games. This year also featured some quality steps towards equality with four full stages and stages that were run in the same location as the men and sometimes very similar courses. Thank you, more please! Our theme of the week was communication.
Stage 1 started out in Lake Tahoe with the same course we had last year: a 70+ mile race around the lake and ending at Heavenly Ski Resort up a steep kicker. The days leading up to it were gorgeous and warm, so of course race day was warm but with 25 mph winds! Luckily with the trees and surrounding mountains, the wind had less of a negative effect than we expected. The team did a great job staying near the front and focused on checking in with each other and constantly trying to move each other up and work as a team, in which we were successful. When we hit the first QOM things got strung out as Dame Sarah Story of Podium Insight rolled off the front only to be got with less than 10k to go. The team worked hard to move Katie and Gretchen up for the finishing climb with Katie finishing 22nd in a world-class field.
Moving on to Stage 2, the team competed in a Merckx style TTT which means on road bikes and no aero equipment except aero helmets. This 12.5 mile course was out and back and went by the Folsom prison and along the dam before a U-turn to head back and finish in downtown Folsom. These events are rarities for the team and overall we did a good job keeping things consistent, despite high winds. The team finished just outside the top ten in 11th.
Stage 3 was the most challenging of the courses. Starting in Santa Rosa, the race took to narrow, windy farm and forest roads to climb up Harrison Grade Road, to the ocean and back around to the notorious Coleman Valley Road, which contained the second QOM and a majority of the climbing for the day, before heading back into Santa Rosa for the finishing circuits. Teams were out for blood and a huge proportion of the race was single file. Between QOMs, Colavita actively tried to help establish a breakaway, with Gretchen being in the most threatening move. However, with the GC in threat, Boels-Dolman was having none of it. On the second QOM, Katie was able to make the front group, and Jess was able to roll off the front of the first chase group and the final group to make the finishing circuits. Katie rolled in at 28th and Jess was not far behind in 33rd. 4x World