by Allison Atkinson, ATC Racing
This was the first annual Cyberknife of Texas Stage Race. Saturday, The FRESH Road Race, consisted of three 18-mile laps around Lake Tyler in Whitehouse, Texas. This road race had rolling terrain. Attacks from Jubilee started right off the bat at the first right-hand turn off the main road. They sent one woman after the other off the front. The field bridged and caught every one. It was hard! At one point I thought I was getting dropped, but luckily my teammate Sammi pulled me back toward the front of the pack a few times. This was Sammi’s first stage race as a recently upgraded cat 3, and she was riding strong.
Attacks initiated by Michelle Hayner (Velossimo), Ash Duban (Comanche), and various Jubilee racers continued for the entire first lap. Every hill was an all-out kick to the top, and everyone became strung out into a long pace line on the flat windy section.
There was a hot spot on lap two. This was the lap where the winning break was formed. After a few rolling hills, Kayla Sterling (Exergy Twenty16) attacked. Initially no one went after her, but then, about 15 seconds later Andrea Thomas (Think Finance) jumped and bridged, followed by Duban and Danielle Bradley (Jubilee). Hayner and both Shama women were not going with the break, so I decided to stay in the pack. I figured we would catch them after they went through the hot spot.
It turns out I was wrong. Although we did end up catching Duban and Bradley, there were still two up the road, and their gap would grow significantly. I was feeling tired from battling the windy section leading up to the hot spot. Even though I was drafting off other girls I was still putting forth a huge effort to hang on each time crosswinds gusted.
I expected Hayner, Sheri Rothe (Jubilee), or Mandy Heintz (Shama) to break away on this lap. Sammi and I spent a lot of time in the front chasing down a few half-hearted Jubilee attacks as we anticipated the move for the second break. Hayner went first. I was swallowed by the peloton, and we caught her. After that effort Hayner was breathing heavy, so Rothe took that opportunity to launch out from the back of the pack when we least expected it. I was boxed in by her teammates, but Hayner was still at the front. She didn't go after Rothe at first, so I thought we'd bridge as a group, but Hayner, without much recovery, jumped violently to catch Rothe. We chased but were outnumbered by Jubilee blocks.
It was frustrating watching the two drift further and further away, mainly because I knew I was supposed to be there with them. Sammi, Shama Cycles women, Duban, Monica Hyslop, and I worked to keep the pack moving. I moved to the front during the hilly section to spur some action by attacking each hill. All we could do was minimize the gap at that point, which turned out to be over 4 minutes!
It was a soft sprint to the finish and a pack finish time for Sammi and I. The Cobb Cycling Time Trial was later that day. This was a 5.6-mile TT starting at the church and finishing at the same point as the road race. It had one sharp right turn after a downhill, with rolling terrain. The ramp was pretty cool! I focused on staying steady down the first stretch. After trying not to slow down too much for the sharp right turns, I maintained a good effort. The hilly, winding section was fun, but I had to work to stay in my aero bars on some of the turns. Knowing that I was over halfway done, I upped the intensity to the finish. Hayner took the win with a time of 12:59.
The first lap was fast as we fought for position. I believe it was lap two where Michelle Montoya (Jubilee) went down after hitting a reflector on a crosswalk. She was okay and up and racing again by the next lap. With the exception of the prime lap, the pace was steady, with attacks happening on the major road before the right turn that led into the slightly bumpy downhill straight-away. That road led into a hard right-hand turn up to the hill before the finish. It was important to be in a
With two pack finishes and just an okay TT I took 9th GC. Hayner was 1st, Thomas 2nd, and Sterling 3rd GC. The courses, officials, and volunteers made the Cyberknife of Texas Tyler Stage Race a success and I look forward to racing again next year.
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