Pre-Season Races: Getting the legs back under us!
After all the team bonding (and leg burning!) days at team camp, we were all ready to toe the line and see where our winter fitness had placed us. The first race of the season was a hilly circuit race in the upstate of South Carolina that comprised of three 13 mile laps. Florence and Katy were the two that could fit this race into their schedule, and their goal was to be aggressive, and Florence was to attack up the 1 mile climb on lap 2. Our plan worked perfectly, creating a break of 8 riders that included both Florence and Katy. The group organized, put a big gap on the field, and going into the final lap, Florence pulled out her climbing legs and dropped everyone but a couple of the women up the climb. She fought hard up the final climb to the finish line for 2nd place, and Katy held off the remainder of the field to come in for 6th place.
Race stats: 39 miles & 3,400 feet of climbing.
Our second race was the first of a 6 race omnium series called the Hincapie Spring Series. The first two races were crit races, where Florence and Katy lined up with teams like Rally, Milligan, Butcherbox and CWA. The 1 mile course was flowy with a large hill every lap. The team goal for the two girls was to be aggressive, attack the climb, and make it hard. Katy walked away with a 5 place both days.
Race stats: 40 mins & 1,300 feet of climbing (it definitely wasn’t flat!!).
The 2nd race weekend of the Hincapie Spring Series was the first weekend where Florence, Katy, Merrill and Sommers all got to race together. The team goal was to set Katy up for the win. Saturday’s road race course was fairly flat with a few punchy climbs, and a long drag to the finish line. The team goal was to race aggressively (can you sense a race tactic theme for our team??), then line it up and lead it out for Katy. After attacking the climbs throughout the race, Florence was able to get off the front with another rider towards the latter part of the race, causing panic and other teams to chase her down. This set us up perfectly to sit in, let teams drag us up to Florence, then create our lead out. Our team controlled the race, and Merrill was the last teammate in the lead out train to set Katy off to the finish line where she dug in for a 1 minute, all-out sprint to take the win.
Race Stats: 31 miles & 1,600 feet of climbing.
Sunday was a race course that is infamous in Greenville, SC, and that is the Donaldson airport circuit race. The team would head out on the 7 mile circuit course with the goal of getting Florence and Sommers in a break to try and take another win. The race was fast, attack after attack after attack was launched, and finally one attack stuck with Florence in it. Sommers did everything she could to bridge to the break, but ended up finishing 7th, Florence finished 6th, and Katy took the field sprint win for 8th.
Race Stats: 29 miles & 24.1 mph.
The final weekend of the series started off with a circuit race in the mountains of South Carolina, a race called River Falls. The circuit included a 0.6 mile climb at just under 6%, and would be a defining factor in the race ….. other than the 40-degree weather and torrential rain. Florence and Katy braved the wet and cold, with Katy finishing in 8th place, and leading the overall omnium by 1 point.
The final race of the whole series landed the team back at Donaldson. There was 1 objective: Get Katy to win the race and win the whole omnium. With Katy’s sprint ready on deck, Florence and Merrill had an objective to cover all dangerous moves, and if a break was going to happen, they needed to bring Katy into it. With a split in the field early on due to the high pace, and some attacks launched by Emma Langley of Tibco SVB, the reduced group came to the line in a bunched sprint. Positioning was key, as the wind was playing a factor, but Katy chose the windy side so she would have a clear shot to line and took the win by half a wheel.
Our most recent pre-season race was an omnium in Commerce, GA, and consisted of a road race, time trial and crit race. The team’s objective was to work for Merrill and set her up for an omnium win. The road race had some decent climbs, which Sommers, Florence and Katy kept the tempo high on, and going into the last two laps, we protected Merrill, and made sure we did all we could to help her. Katy won the intermediate sprint time bonus, and also won the race, taking another 10 second time bonus away from key teams. With only 1 hour in between the road race and time trial, the team was hot, dehydrated and tired, but Florence ended up having a killer time trial, placing 3rd and leading the GC by 2 seconds. Sommers crushed the TT as well and road her road bike to a 4th place finish! This changed the team’s goal, wanting to make sure Florence won the GC. With the crit being the last stage, 2 time bonus primes, and a finishing time bonus prime on the line, it was key for Katy to steal the time bonuses, and get Florence to the finish line right on her wheel. Katy stole the first time bonus, but 2nd place in the GC behind Florence nabbed the 2nd place time bonus, putting her 1 second above Florence. Merrill created a breakaway mid race, and stole the 2nd time bonus. Going into the final lap, Florence was on Katy’s wheel and she was going to drag her to the line, but with good team tactics from the GC leader, Florence was blocked out, came in 4th, and took 2nd overall GC by just a few seconds. Katy took the crit stage win by a few bike lengths. It truly was a team effort, and the girls raced as tactically smart as they could.
Next stop: Johnson City Omnium and Pro Road Nationals!