The Coleman Chevrolet Stage Race, put on by Edge City Cycling near Texarkana—right on the border of, you guessed it, Texas and Arkansas—is far from home and late in the season, but this stage race is well worth the drive, especially for the women. The women's open payout (when the field size meets the minimum) matches that of the P12 men! Our ATC correspondents reported having unseasonably cool weather and a great time. Read on for a play-by-play of the three-day event from ATC Racing's Allison Atkinson.
By Allison Atkinson
|Katie Kantzes & Allison Atkinson pre-TT|
Road Race 1
Day one (60 mile road race) was cold (in the 60s) and drizzly. I could not believe that I was racing in arm warmers and truly felt like I could catch cold out there. Lap one was an awkward dance. Smaller field sizes resulted in combining the women 3/4's, Women Open, and Men 60+. The men took responsibility early on, setting a great tempo. The men also, however, greatly changed the dynamic of the first 30 miles. One of them would get into a break with the women, which caused a chain reaction of competitive men chasing, pulling the group up to the break. Who knows if the breaks (all of which Katie or myself were in) would've stuck had a man not been in the mix? Our Women's Open group awkwardly let the Women 3/4's and men (who only raced one lap) go ahead and sprint to finish.
We continued at a steady pace starting lap two. We ate and talked, which made me nervous. I don't like making small talk in general, much less mid-race. I became annoyed but kept my guard up while trying to eat and drink. Attacks would certainly come from Dallas Racing and the two Team Primal Racing riders from Denver. Andrea Thomas (Dallas Racing) attacked on the first sizable hill. Katie and I looked at each other. I spit out whatever I was eating and yelled "We gotta go NOW!" We took off, and I used my momentum to pull for a while on the flat. Andrea was in sight. Getting out of the saddle on the next hill, I kept the chase pace strong till Katie came around and up the hill to Andrea.
Solymar Rivera (Dallas Racing) countered, and we chased. This continued till confusion set in on a mismarked turn. I happened to drift to the back of the pack approaching the turn because I thought the sign (pointing straight) was supposed to point right. All the women went straight except for Andrea, who took the right turn hot and then attacked. I scanned the road ahead and saw everyone turning around. I decided to chase Andrea, who was already up the road quite a ways. I bridged and worked with Andrea for about five miles before we were caught. It was the efforts of the Team Primal Racing women that shut it down.
Team Primal Racing kept the pressure on in the final 10 miles with attack after attack, but nothing stood a chance of staying away without a Dallas or ATC lady in the mix. Solymar tried to get away early leading up the finish. Katie and I didn't let that happen. Approaching the base of the uphill sprint Andrea attacked early, launching Solymar, Katie, and me into a first, second, and third place finish.
The TT was just under five miles of rollers. Katie looked a like a fish out of water warming up on her borrowed TT bike. It was the first time she'd ridden a TT bike in her life, but, as our team's supporters suspected, it was better to force her to race it knowing she has the makings of a great time trialist (even though she was a little sketch). Our suspicions were correct! She placed second!
Andrea was first, and I was, again, third. GC was greatly affected by the TT because Solymar finished lower than expected. Now we would really have to watch Andrea, who was first in GC by a slim margin. I still had to watch Solymar because she could try and get into a break to get time on me for third GC.
|Katie Kantzes on a TT bike! See more race photos at www.robertspangle.com/|
Road Race 2
Day two (50 mile road race) felt just as cold in the morning but quickly warmed up to the 80s when the sun came out. Our goal was to get on the podium and win the Team competition, which we were already leading. We were combined again with the same faces, and this time the men raced the full distance with us.
|Team Primal Racing & ATC Racing|
This led to a jumble of men sitting up in the climbs, 3/4 women blowing up in pursuit, and 1/2 women trying to maintain a good position. I looked over at Katie, who seemed annoyed or bored or both. There was a pretty long climb ahead, and it was still the first lap for us, but Katie found her way out of the tangled mess and just started climbing at her own pace. It wasn't an attack, just a quicker climbing pace that allowed her to ride away. Andrea saw this and had to work for a few moments to get around some tired climbers, but she managed to bridge up to Katie.
|GC podium - Andrea Thomas 1st, Katie Kantzes 2nd, Allison Atkinson 3rd|
I felt like the small field made for a harder race. I honestly hadn't had the opportunity to race that hard or feel THAT tired in a while. Katie and I got a good feel for how to work together and discovered we make a great team! The courses (especially day two) were hillier than expected. It was a great weekend, and the best part was I GOT TO WEAR MY OFFICIAL SLURPEE HAT ON THE PODIUM! I will definitely race next year and hope to see bigger fields then—ATC will bring the party and pain again to the women's field!