Austin Tri-Cyclist Blog

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

2014 Coleman Chevrolet Stage Race Report, Women's Open

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
Katie Kantzes and I were not sure if driving five hours up to Texarkana for a stage race would be worth it, especially with only 10 signed up in the women's field, four of which were from Dallas Racing. Well, the drive up actually took us eight hours, and we still aren't sure why. Even with the longer drive, we decided that WE would make the race worthwhile and showcase a little of what makes ATC Racing special. In short, we would bring the party AND the pain to Texarkana! And yes, it was totally worth it!

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.

Time Trial
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

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
With centerline rules in place it was hard to maneuver around, so I had to be at or toward the front to avoid being boxed in should something get up the road. The men took on a lot of the responsibility, setting a good pace early. Katie and I sat in; nothing really happened till we hit a series of stair-step climbs. I believe a 3/4 woman started trying to ride away, which caused a weird chase because the men (whose wheels I followed) didn't care and sat up.

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
Solymar and I looked at each other. Our GC leaders just formed a break only 15 miles or so into the race. What now? The two Team Primal riders worked their way to the front, where I sat on their wheels as they fiercely chased. The pair worked well together till we found ourselves on another long climb. One of them rode away, and I stayed with her with Solymar in tow. Solymar attacked, I chased, and the three of us stayed together till we were caught. I knew that I had to watch Solymar. I talked with the Team Primal ladies, who were upset that they had to chase completely alone. They really wanted to break away with me at five miles to go. I refused because I knew Solymar would come with us, and I didn't want to stir things up too early. I asked if they'd help me keep the pace fast at 1k to go to string things out. Eager to help, they did just that after rotating with me at a mile or so to go. I finished fourth, Solymar was third, and Andrea pulled off first with Katie second. Overall we were pleased with the day's efforts and happy that we'd reached our goals.

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 thenATC will bring the party and pain again to the women's field!

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