Date: July 8-9th, 2017
Race: Giro del Cielo Stage Race
Location: Augusta, NJ
Rider(s): Cat 1/2: Alexa, Cheryl, Deborah, and Emily
Cat 3: Andy and Shaina
Cat 4/5: Danielle and Sarah
Written by Cheryl Clark...
What a beautiful weekend of team racing it was!
Saturday started out a little groggy, and we all rolled around on our bike, waking up our legs in our rhythmic ways trying to deal with the humidity. One by one we headed out on the rolling hills of a challenging 13 mile time trial course. I think we can all agree that each one of us rode hard, and did our best on the day to master the course and test our strength.
We were able to regroup for a couple of hours at the local diner with our recovery foods of choice. After some laughs, strategic crit talk, and full stomachs, we headed over to the crit course. Here is where we found out the TT results, and saw that Cheryl was in the lead for the Pro/1/2 field, and Shania with her fabulous 4th place overall in TT was now in the lead of the Cat 3 field...not a bad way to start the crit stage....double pink! We wanted the crit to stay safe and keep the speed high without initiating too many attacks. As a team we manned the front, communicated, and no attacks escaped the field. Going into the final straight away, we were positioned well, it was the plan to have Cheryl drive the last half of the lap, then Deb to lead out Emily with Cheryl and Shaina to stay on their wheels to keep their GC placings high. but Cheryl unfortunately clipped out of her pedal twice while trying to hold the pressure on for our power house sprinters to accelerate past, which left us a little further back than desired, but Emily still pulled off 3rd place for the Cat 1/2, and Shaina held onto her pink jersey!
And what a pleasure it was to go back to our bed and breakfast barn, that Deb had found for us. It was so beautiful and comfortable there. We relaxed outside, ordered a delicious dinner, and enjoyed the crisp evening with a beer to top it off! Day two, and race number three was just a good night's sleep away.
Road Race time! 7 laps of a 5.5 rolling loop, with one pretty punchy climb. The plan going in, was to try to attack and counter attack, until ideally Cheryl and potentially Shaina were in a small and smart breakaway that would stick, as these 2 riders were our best bet for being able to win individual and team GC. We stayed at the front, and the pace was relaxed, and we were all ready to be right there if another team sent someone up the road. No significant attacks were made, and we checked in with each other. After 15 miles of racing, Alexa laid on some pressure going into the hill, and Cheryl came around her bringing two other riders with her, Ainhoa from ABRT and Leslie Sunapee. This meant all three major GC teams were represented.
The break was established after a few miles and Leslie was working well with Cheryl in the break. The pace became too much and Leslie dropped off, (but was able to time trial her way to 3rd place) leaving Cheryl and Ainhoa in a breakaway of two riders. All of the EPS ladies made sure they covered attacks and kept the field controlled, while allowing the breakaway to gain a larger time gap. Ainhoa was in the pink jersey, so Cheryl was left with most of the work to try to secure the Pro1/2 win. It came down to a sprint finish and Cheryl was second, which left the team with an individual 1/2 GC 2nd place, overall team 2nd place, and stage 2nd place, while our pink Cat3 rider Shaina, kept safely in the field, and held onto the Cat3 GC win!
Giro del Cielo Stage Race (as told by Shaina)
Double race weekends are pretty normal for me, but I have never participated in a stage race before. Having heard nothing but positive feedback from the team, I was excited to join them to race this year's Giro del Cielo in Augusta, New Jersey. A rolling time trial, then a crit, followed the next day by a circuit road race was the order of events for the weekend. I learned that as a Cat 3 rider, I would be scored separately and was eager to see how I stacked up against the local field
It is easy to be intimidated when participating in a time trial. There is seems to be lot of fancy equipment that merely makes everyone look faster. Having never competed in a time trial before, I was unsure of the approach and only had a vague idea of course by studying a map with elevation profile. But I strapped on some clip-on aerobars and tapped into my pain cave honed from seasons of cyclocross/xc mountain racing and just went for it. I started passing riders at the 2 mile mark. I counted about six by mile 11. I crossed the line feeling accomplished, tired but with gas left in the tank. We checked results before heading over for the crit. Cheryl crushed everyone for 1st and I was 4th overall, 1st for Cat 3. Cheryl and I would line up at the crit as our respective category leaders.
The crit was long, sweeping course with two real turns and a small rise before a narrow downhill into a false flat finish. The plan was to protect the leaders, especially Cheryl. I knew the riders I needed to watch to make sure I finished ahead of to keep the GC lead. As predicted, nothing got away. The team did an great job controlling the front. There was an unfortunate crash late in the race that took out a number of riders, including Andy. The sprint did not go as we had hoped, but we all, most importantly, crossed the line safely in the top 10.
With Cheryl just barely out of the 1/2 lead and me with a good cushion, but not having it safely locked up, we headed into the road race with a plan to get our riders into a break and get a win for the team to boost the team GC points. The break happened on the third of 7 laps of the rolling course with Cheryl and two other riders going off the front for the rest of the race. She would finish 2nd ahead of the field. My objective was to stay towards the front and stay protected while watching the other GC contenders. There were a few surges over the remaining laps with no lasting attacks. Like the day before, a crash caught up riders a few hundred meters from the finish. I had to swing wide to the right to avoid the fall out, but was able to hold my sprint to finish 2nd in the category and enough to win the GC.
While I feel like I made some mistakes and would have done a few things differently, I owe it to the the team for helping me clinch the GC. (A special thanks for Doreen for getting me to the start line!) Even though we couldn't all win the team GC, it was great to chat with other teams and hear how much they enjoy racing with us. Overall, it was great to bring such a big group of us together for a full weekend of racing and another strong showing for the season.
Cheryl Clark 1st place Womens Open Time Trial, 6th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 2nd place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 2nd place Cat 1/2 Overall
Deborah Leedale-Brown 10th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 5th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 8th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 6th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Emily Underwood 11th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 3rd place Cat 1/2 Crit, 7th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 5th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Alexa Gubinski 13th place Cat 1/2 Time Trial, 12th place Cat 1/2 Crit, 12th place Cat 1/2 Road Race, 11th place Cat 1/2 Overall
Shaina Kravitz 1st place Cat 3 Time Trial, 3rd place Cat 3 Crit, 2nd place Cat 3 Road Race, 1st place Cat 3 Overal!!
Andy Maher 5th place Cat 3 Time Trial, 15th place Cat 3 Crit, 11th place Cat 3 Road Race (2nd place NJ Road Race Championships), 11th place Cat 3 Overall
Danielle Ferland 11th place Cat 4/5 Time Trial, 14th place Cat 4 Crit, 19th place Cat 4/5 Road Race, 11th place Overall
Sarah Hauze 21st place (with a mechanical) Cat 4/5 Time Trial, 24th place Cat 4 Crit, 24th place Overall