Edison, NJ – Team Colavita Bianchi are lining up in Bend, Oregon this week for the 38th edition of the Cascade Cycling Classic. The 5-day stage race is the second of the final three objectives in the second-half of the season. The first began with the Twilight Downtown Criterium in Boise, ID, the first week of July, followed by the Cascade Cycling Classic and ending with the Colorado Classic on August 14.
The squad has faced a few challenges, with nearly all-new signing’s at the start of the season. While the results may not show in black and white, the team has grown together and supported one another in the ups and downs throughout the spring and early summer.
“It’s taken some extra time for the riders to really learn one another,” Director Sportif, Mary Zider said. “But each race has gotten better and better. It’s been incredible to witness this group of riders – to see their interactions off the bike is a true testament to this teams chemistry and culture we believe in, here on the Colavita|Bianchi team.
“When the chemistry is right in the van, things start to happen and results start to come naturally,” Zider added. “Every rider on this team rides selflessly and that is ultimately what every director should want in a rider. Riders have been forced into new roles at times and they’ve all welcomed these opportunities and challenges.
Whitney Allison, one of two veterans that returned this year, and the longest-running team member on the squad today, stepped into a general classification role this season for the first time, after riding as a domestique for several years.
“She is one of the hardest working athletes I know,” Zider said. “Every team needs a rider like Whitney, and every GC rider wants a rider like Whitney near her side. So to see her finally have an opportunity to be in a GC role has been pretty special. It’s not easy switching roles like that because they take totally different mentalities as a bike racer. She rose to the occasion and has held her own.”
“Every year has a different flavor,” Allison added. “I didn’t really know what to expect having such high turnover this year, but knowing the staff stayed the same, you know the program’s guts are going to stay the same.
“Last year, Kimbers(Australian Kimberly Wells) was our loud sprinting Australian. She won a lot of things, but she’s a big personality – a great leader and a great teacher. I definitely tried to take some notes from her; she’s one of a kind.
“So you go into a race and you either keep doing what you’re doing, or you step into that leadership role that needs filling and see what happens. I’m trying really hard to keep everybody together and focused, learning as I go.”
The team kicked off their season with a block of racing in the Spring Classics overseas in France and Belgium before returning stateside to race Silver City’s Tour of the Gila and Redlands Bicycle Classic. The momentum picked up shortly after Redlands heading into Tulsa Tough, US Pro National Championships, and Northstar Bicycle Festival. Allison saw her best result in the ITT at pro National Championships, finishing 8th.
“I think in this last block we made some really good connections together, starting with Ellen, Emma and I at Tulsa,” Allison added. “We really started connecting and building that core, which we then took forward into Northstar and Nationals.
“Nationals was really cool. I passed three riders on the TT, two in the U-turn and one over this narrow railroad track where they put these horse mats down so you could only go one rider through at a time. Of course, I’m passing riders in that spot, so you’re going to lose more time.
“I think we’ll have a really good showing at Cascade,” Allison added. “This season I was thrust into this role to ride more GC, not that that was the intention at the start of the year at all. I think that we’re making the most of what we have, and we have a really good core group. I ended up being a GC rider at Northstar, and it was so cool watching everybody come together for that.”
The squad came very close to the podium for Stage 1 at Cascade on McKenzie Pass road race, with Emma Grant finishing in the top ten.
“We focus on all the small details along the way,” Zider concluded. “In doing so, we’ve had many opportunities to win because of it. We’ve found the podium more and more as of late, and will look to continue with this momentum into Cascade and the Colorado Classic.”
Follow the team on social media this week for updates and photos from the road at Cascade and Colorado next month.