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Starting the season with a bang

By:
Alison Tetrick
Published:
March 14, 2011, 23:28 GMT,
Updated:
March 15, 2011, 0:09 GMT

Finding inspiration in the strength of teammates

Alison Tetrick Starnes heads out for some additional work in fitting her TT bike.

Alison Tetrick Starnes heads out for some additional work in fitting her TT bike.

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2011 is officially here. The new season. Is it that time already? Apparently. I do not want to make a comeback; I want to make a statement. The statement is that 2011 holds the promise of great accomplishments for Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 Women's Professional Cycling Team, and this year will continue to bring each of us closer to securing our dreams. Nothing can deter us from our goals. No obstacle is too great, and no race is too hard. My traumatic injury is a distant memory, and I am starting this year with renewed vision, fortified bones, and unified team. Welcome to 2011, welcome to the future of American women's cycling.

My season ended last year in a clearly tumultuous fashion, and I entered this year bolstered with a regained strength through positive direction, support, and a team. If home is where the heart is, then a team is where the empowerment resides. I have found my home and my empowerment on Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12 Women's Professional Cycling Team.

Even though it is only March, my season is already gaining momentum. My first trip was to the Middle East to race in the Ladies' Tour of Qatar with the USA National team. Not only was it my first race back from a broken pelvis, but it was my first race of 2011. Nothing like just plunging into the deep end of the pool. It was sink or swim. Thankfully, I remembered how to swim in a fast UCI stage race, and the year was officially underway.

Our team camp was held at the Larkspur Hotel in Mill Valley, California, and being a resident of Mill Valley, it was a short trip for me to join the team for a week full of education, laughter, and riding. It was the combination of accomplished women, professional expertise, and super-fast equipment. It was the ultimate dream team. I had officially found my home amongst my peers, my coach, my mentors, and my role models. We are not just cyclists. We are educated women with dreams of reaching the top. We are mothers. We are daughters. We are strong women. I could not be more inspired than spending time and growing with this group of women.

Directly from camp, we travelled to Merced for our first race as a team at the Merco Cycling Classic. This would be the first time I had raced domestically this year, and our team had a clear vision for the race. To win. Sounds simple enough, but a goal like that requires the entire team willing to support this effort as one unit. Egos go out the window, as each team member is willing to sacrifice their race for the price of accomplishing the team's overall mission. The four days of racing in Merced proved even more that cycling is the ultimate team sport. Each role is pivotal. Each rider's cooperation is invaluable. The team's cohesion is priceless. Welcome to a true professional team, where dreams are realized, and plans are executed. It is Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12.

Through each stage the team worked together, and I was able to unleash my first time trial of the year on my B2Pro Felt bike with Zipp wheels, SRAM Red, and a Pearl Izumi Speedsuit. Not to reveal my slightly geekier side, but I was thrilled to feel the aerodynamic benefits of our equipment. I sliced through the air. Literally. It was a solid effort for the first one of the year, and with the win, we could then defend the yellow jersey for the remaining two stages. With my team around me, I felt protected, confident, and secure. We won the yellow jersey. We won the race. It was my first professional GC win of my career.

I have worn the yellow jersey at Nature Valley Grand Prix, but this one I ended the race still wearing it. Still in yellow. It was an incredible experience. I have played many roles on teams in the past, and will continue to do throughout the years. I have worked and defended the yellow jersey at the Tour of New Zealand, securing the overall win for the USA National Team, as well as the maglia rosa for the at the Giro Donne, making history for the USA at this epic race. Although the pressure is different when the jersey is literally on your shoulders, the pride remains the same.

This win was not a win that I can claim for myself, but it is a win that was an entire team effort. Their confidence in me, gave me the confidence to perform. Their sacrifice, made me want to ensure our success. It is a team win. It is not a comeback. It is a statement. We support each other's goals. We will work as a team.

Although 2010 ended less than favourable, a new year has a way of clearing the slate and opening doors. I am focused on my goals at hand, and I will continue to thrive in a supportive environment. I have discovered that bones heal no matter the pain, and the dreams and passion are what continue to motivate us. I have become empowered by riding alongside my teammates, and I am anticipating a wonderful year. Welcome, 2011. One Middle East trip. One team camp. One yellow jersey. More to follow. 2012 will be here shortly. I hear that is an Olympic year…and I hope to be there…
 

Author
Alison Tetrick Starnes: New year, new team

Join Alison Tetrick Starnes as she takes on the season with Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 Women’s Professional Cycling Team, the USA's newest women's team set to enter the peloton this year. Alison last wrote for Cyclingnews.com when she was part of the US Women's Cycling Development Program. The California-native says she is "looking forward to an incredible 2011" while eyeing a sport on the US Olympic Team for London 2012.

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