Redlands Bicycle Classic - March 31 - April 4, 2005
Stages 2 and 3 - Ina the incredible!
Sixty minutes of pain. Not a long time to suffer...but suffer we do. The very first time I raced the Redlands criterium, a course consisting of nine corners, I felt like it was the fastest race of my life. I remember thinking I had suffered a very long time and we must have been close to the 60 minute mark. I looked down at my clock and lo and behold, we had only been racing for 12 minutes! My crit racing has since gotten better, but sometimes it's not me that I'm worried about. It's all the crazy action going on around me.
For some crazy reason, I got this idea stuck in my head that my husband was going to show up to watch our race. Why he would drive six hours one way when he's in a crucial training block for Tour of Georgia is beyond me. But I had convinced myself he was going to be there. So I had all the girls looking for him. When I didn't see him before the race, I thought, 'Well, he just didn't want to make me nervous before the race and show his face.' So even during the whole 60 minute race, I kept listening for his voice. I think because his and my schedules have not meshed AT ALL this season so far, I'm truly starting to hallucinate. Hopefully after Tour of Georgia, I'll get to see him again for longer than a two hour layover.
My teammate, Ina Yoko Teutenberg, has never been one to wait for a field sprint. She'd rather continue attacking throughout a race to drum up the excitement, versus sitting in and sprinting at the end. And today was no different. There was an early break with Lara Kroepsch and Laura Van Gilder from Quark that gained some time. But eventually, when the field brought it back, Ina started getting ancy. I can't remember exactly how early she got away, but it seemed like she was out front for a long time. I think it was when she helped me out at the mid-way time bonus sprint. There were three, two, and second bonuses up for grabs with 30 minutes left in the race. Since Annette Buetler was only three seconds behind me, we didn't want her getting any bonus seconds and moving ahead of me in GC. Ina won the time bonus sprint to take the biggest chunk away from Annette. Unfortunately, Annette was right on her wheel and grabbed two bonus seconds. But Ina used the opportunity to our advantage.
Her solo attack was so strong, powering her away from the field before they even knew what hit them. Andrea Ratkovic, riding for the Bicycle Store, made a good move and eventually bridged up to Ina. Another group of three tried to make the bridge as well, but were swallowed up by the field with about five laps to go. By this point, Ina and Andrea were well clear of the field, having over a minute gap. With Ina off the front for so long, she ended up taking enough of the mid-race sprint points to earn herself the green points jersey for the race...a feat that made our director, Andrzej Bek, very happy! Ina attacked Andrea with one lap to go, leaving no room for error in the final sprint. Andrea finished second, and Quark put their storming lead out train in front so that super sprinter Tina Pic could finish third.
Final stage - Sunset Road Race
The next day, Ina looked like the image of spring with her pale green points jersey and her pink T-Mobile shorts. She acted a bit put out (but only facially) because in order for her to actually keep the points jersey, she would have to finish the Sunset Road Race. If she dropped out of the race, she'd lose the jersey. The ironic thing is that Ina had never finished this race before. The last time I raced Redlands, I remember her saying at the start line, 'I have my Starbucks card in my jersey pocket. So as soon as I am dropped, you'll know where I'll be.' The little snot.
But today would have to be a different story. The Sunset Road Race is really tough. It's eight laps of 11 or 12 km, half of it up, then the other half screaming down through the neighborhoods. It's a really fun course, but holy cow, does it put the hurt on the legs. The race starts and finishes downtown at the same spot where we finished the crit. We had about 5km of neutral, which always seems to be a war zone while fighting for position. And as soon as the flag was dropped, the motors were burning. Teams were CHARGING up the course as soon as neutral was over, winding through the narrow streets towards the first time up the climb. We hit the climb hard and I swear...in about 500 metres, I looked around and there were seven of us left...seven. It didn't help that the first QOM at the top of the climb was also a time bonus sprint. A lot was up for grabs on this one! With Annette only a second behind me and only 10 seconds behind Christine, I could tell she was going for the overall win. The sprint for the QOM went so hard, I couldn't even see straight to see who had won. I just knew it was NOT me. I got my butt dropped in the process along with my teammate Kristin. I think Erinne Willock may have won with Annette and Christine taking second and third. Ok, now I was in third overall. That was quick. Now I'd just have to win the race and the final time bonus to take over the leader's jersey. No problem.
After that first QOM, the only girls left were Willock and Thorburn from Webcor, Beutler from Quark, Lynn Gaggioli from Monex, and Kristin and myself with T-Mobile. Obviously, Annette was riding really strongly and the four of us knew we'd have to watch out for her. We also realised it was going to be very hard for any of us to get away. We were all pretty evenly matched. Gaggioli sped on the downhills for the first three laps, trying to keep the distance between our break and the remnants of the chasing field. We all watched each other on the uphills. Finally, at about lap four, I rode up next to Kristin and whispered, 'Do you have any ideas?' Just after I said that, I saw out of the corner of my eye a flash of green and pink. Hot damn! Unbeknownst to us, (because our radios seem to have a very short range!) Ina had attacked out of the chasing group about one minute back, bridged up to our little climber group, and then sprinted right past us like we were standing still. And this was in a race she had never finished before!
Gaggioli and Beutler went after her, chasing her down. Kristin tried attacking, then I went, and after our lame efforts, Ina went again. And that was it....good bye. Beutler tried in vain to go with her. The only way for her to take over the leader's jersey was to win the race and get the 10 second time bonus at the end. So effectively, Ina was doing Webcor a huge favour. And of course us too. Once the chase for Ina subsided, our group lost momentum and the group behind us caught back on. Tina Pic and Grace Fleury, Beutler's teammates, were in that group, and started helping Annette chase. But Beutler still did the majority of the work. She was extremely impressive! As we finished the eighth and final lap, and were racing back down into town for the last 10km, I floated to the back of our rather small group to see who was all in there. Kim Andersen, riding for Colovita, came back there with me. 'Want to try and attack?' she asked me. Well of course! If I could finish either second or third, I could gain back enough time bonus seconds to end up second overall. Not that there's a huge difference between second and third...but still, always be thinking of your sponsors.
Kim and I planned our attack at the most opportune time...after a right hand turn onto a more level road (not downhill) just 2km from the finish. We were giddy lining up for our attack. This was going to work! I told the girls on my radio what I was up to just as the pack made the right hand turn. Kim went hard up the left hand side with me right on her wheel. Then 'disaster' struck. Kristin, my own teammate, seeing movement out of the corner of her eye, moved left to shut down our move. 'Kristin!' I yelled. But it was too late. We lost our momentum...and everyone was on to us. Quark picked it up and brought it on home for Annette to take second and Tina Pic third. My poor teammate, Kori, was really trying to get me on her wheel for the final lead-out. But my legs were completely seizing in the last kilometre. There was no sprint left in those sausages. Thanks for trying though Kori!
Ina safely won the stage and with her solo effort and time gap, effectively helping T-Mobile win the Team GC. With two stage wins, two second places, the points jersey, team GC, and third place individual overall, I believe it was a great showing for our team. The Redlands Classic was very successful and there was a tough showing of teams. There was no one completely overpowering team. Christine Thorburn and her Webcor team did an amazing job defending the jersey from start to finish though. Congratulations to you all.
So now it's on to the velodrome in L.A. again. The U.S. Pan-Am 'long-team' will be training there this week on the track. And when I'm not on the track, I will most likely be holed up in my hotel room, under the covers, watching re-runs of Law and Order (because it's ALWAYS on), making sure my legs are well-rested for Ojai and Sea Otter. See you then!