Date: July 9-10th, 2016
Race: Giro del Cielo Stage Race
Location: Augusta, NJ
Rider(s): Cat 1/2: Sarah, Deborah, and Emily
Cat 3: Andy, Gabby, and Evelyn
Cat 4: Alli, Nikki, Danielle, and Victoria (for the TT and Crit)
This is the Cat 1/2 race report, from the persepctive of a Porkchop!
The Giro del Cielo is a great three stage race in North Jersey promoted by Skylands Cycling. A hilly 13 mile time trial is followed by a crit race at the local fairgrounds. The next day, we take on the rolling road race course. There’s a lot of tactic at a stage race, especially when the promoter is offering not just individual GC awards, but an overall Team GC award! We had our heart set on high finishes in the individual GC and we really wanted to try to take the Team GC home for Riptide-CAWES. We had our work cut out for us with large teams from CRCA/CityMD and CRCA/Dave Jordan Racing. Not to mention just a generally strong field.
Deborah, Evelyn, and I pre-rode the course on Friday night. It was a reminder of how difficult the course actually is, with one big Category 5 climb at the start and quite a few bumps on the way back home to the finish, it’s difficult on this course to find the rhythm on which a lot of us TT racers rely.
The morning of the race was cool and overcast - a rather perfect day for a race. As the course is up on a ridgeline and in the trees, wind is really never a factor.
Those of us who had raced this event previously spoke about wanting to better our times on the course, those of us who were new to it wanted to do their best and push their limits. With some really talented riders and time trialists on the start list (Leslie Timm, Lauren Dagostino, Amy Cutler), it was going to be a close race.
I started off and felt pretty good when I hit the Category 5 climb. It felt hard to climb it, and my heart rate jumped up as I crested the top, but I managed to settle back in and find some semblance of a rhythm after that. I knew that the 2nd half of the course was tougher than the first, but with riders in sight in front of me, I found myself riding quite hard on the first half as well. As I rounded the big curve that brings us back around to head back to the finish, I set my sights on climbing the remaining poppers relaxed, but with power. And, I kept reeling in riders that I saw in front of me.
At 9 miles to go, I was worried that I’d pushed too hard. I suddenly felt rough and exhausted. But, the next time I looked down, I was at 11 miles and realized that I was ahead of my time from last year and just had a little push to the finish. In the last mile I passed a few more riders and sprinted up the final bump to the line. I stopped my Garmin and was shocked to see a time nearly 2 minutes faster than last year. I was even MORE shocked to find out a few hours later that I had, in fact, WON the TT and would be starting the Crit in the leader’s jersey.
I have never worn a leader’s jersey before, so this was a pretty cool experience for me… and I’m so glad that I got to share it with my amazing teammates… all of whom, by the way, improved their times from last year or had really awesome races.
In the end, the Cat 1/2 ladies finished 1st, 6th for Deborah and 7th for Emily in the TT – setting us up nicely for our goal of winning the overall Team GC competition.
The Cat 3 ladies were 2nd for Andy, 17th for Evelyn, and 22nd for Gabby.
The crit was a few hours later, so we were able to return to our trailer in the woods, relax for a bit, eat a nice lunch, and get our feet up before heading back out to the crit course.
I had a target on my back – literally, it was a big bright pink “Leaders Jersey” target! – and knew that the sprinters who were just behind me in the GC would be gunning for me in the finish.
The course is pretty non-technical, with two real turns, one small uphill bump, and a few sweeping turns. In the past, breaks have tried to go, but haven’t been successful. More than a few attacks were launched by Lauren Dagostino, Leslie Timm and her teammate Danielle, and us… but, a field sprint was meant to be.
With strong pulls from Andy, and Evelyn… the last few laps were steady and fast. Emily took to the front on the last lap to string out the field, and Deborah and I tried to make our way to a good position for the sprint. It was a swarmy bunch with a lot of argy-bargy and elbow bumping. As a non-sprinter, I get easily spooked by that stuff, but just tried to hold Deborah’s wheel as she made her way through the group.
After the last turn and up the hill, I managed to pass nearly a dozen riders to get to the line in 8th with Deborah right in front of me in 7th.
We weren’t super thrilled with the results, but were happy to make it through the day happy, healthy, and upright.
The morning of the road race found me sitting in 3rd in the GC between Amy Cutler and Lauren Dagostino. And Deborah slotted into the standings just behind them.
Once again, we knew that we’d be targeted in the race, but just hoped that maybe we could get a break away at some point during the race.
The attacks were consistent and persistent throughout the race. Just a few laps in, Amy flatted coming through a corner. After that, the pace really intensified, and the race was on for the remaining 20 miles.
Again, Emily came to the front in the final stretch to lead out the rest of us – Andy was still holding a strong position in the Cat 3 GC and Deborah and I were trying to hold our spots (or move up) in the Cat 1/2 classification. The pack again swarmed and a lot of bumping and yelling could be heard as we took the final few rollers to the line.
The sprinters launched and this time, Deborah was able to weave her way through the pack to take 2nd behind Lauren Dagostino. I got boxed in and hit the breaks just before the line, but still managed a respectable 7th place finish on the day.
In the end, we nabbed 4th and 4th in the Cat 1/2 GC, and the overall Team GC – which was really our biggest goal for the weekend.
And that was the end of another fun weekend of racing for the Riptide-CAWES team!!