American Megan Jastrab won the 7th Trofeo Da Moreno-Mini-Trofeo Alfredo Binda on Sunday in Cittiglio. The race opened the junior women's Nations Cup for the 2019 season. Jastrab took the win ahead of Gaia Massetti (VC Breganze) and Lea Curinier (France).
Jastrab was part of a breakaway in the opening stages of the junior women's 69km race. She won the first sprint in Cittiglio, at the 22km mark, and then once back in the main group she continued to respond to attacks that came from the field, and she was briefly in a solo breakaway before being caught on the main climb. The race came down to a bunch sprint in Cittiglio, where Jastrab proved her strength as one of the world's fastest up-and-coming sprinters.
"The race consisted of 22 kilometres of rolling terrain before we completed three laps around Cittiglio," Jastrab told Cyclingnews, describing how her race unfolded. "We had two short laps and one final long lap (two added climbs to the short lap). The race was not that eventful or stressful during the two short laps. There were a couple hard attacks, but everything was brought back quickly.
"During the final lap, I pushed the pace up the first additional climb and established a gap of about 10 seconds by the top of the climb. This was not the plan, but I decided to continue solo with my slight advantage back into town. The field didn't respond right away and allowed a gap of around 30 seconds to form.
"I was more confident in my sprinting abilities and decided to stay out of the 'red zone' going into the final added climb. I made it about half way through the climb before I was joined by a select group of around 10 riders. Since I didn’t kill myself while I was solo, I joined this group with little effort.
"Over the top of the climb a couple riders attacked, but only strung the group out. Going into the finish the group was now around 20 riders and it was ending in a field sprint. Great Britain had a beautiful lead-out train, and I positioned myself behind them going into the final turn with 300m to go.
"The finish is slightly uphill, so I wanted to be patient and not lead out someone else. With around 150m to go, I started my sprint and ended with about a four-bike-length lead over second."
Jastrab was content with her own victory, but even more proud that Team USA won the best team classification with three riders in the top 15 (first, sixth, & 14th). "This was the cherry on top of a great day of racing in Italy," Jastrab said.
Later in the afternoon, the professional women competed in the third round of the Women's WorldTour at the Trofeo Alfredo Binda-Comune di Cittiglio, where Marianne Vos (CCC Liv) won the sprint from a breakaway of eight riders that was nearly caught by the main field at the line.
Jastrab, 17, races for the trade team Rally UHC Cycling in the US, while competing for her national team overseas in events like the Nations Cup. She is currently racing a four-week block in Europe that is valuable to her development in road racing.
"It is extremely important that the national team offers trips like these to US riders," she said. "European racing is another type of racing compared to in the States – field size, depth of quality riders, roads, atmosphere, etc. The opportunity to race and learn from these trips that USA Cycling provides helps immensely."
Jastrab will continue her development with the national team at Gent-Wevelgem and Healthy Ageing Tour, both are part of the Nations Cup, during this block of racing. "The Nations Cups are the highest level of racing for junior women, aside from junior Worlds," Jastrab said. "My goals for the next races are to continue learning. I'm going to try my best with the team and see what results come from it."
Stateside, Jastrab can't yet confirm what races she can participate in with the Rally UHC programme, as it's largely dependent on whether they are UCI or non-UCI events. Rally UHC has a focus on the highest level of racing in both the US and internationally, but that restricts riders who are under 18 from competing.
"Sadly, I'm limited on the races I can partake in with Rally this year," Jastrab said. "With most of the racing being UCI this year, I am not allowed to start due to my age. I need to be 18 years old to compete in UCI races."
She is permitted to race in non-UCI event such as Redlands Bicycle Classic, where she won stage 2. She said being able to race with Rally UHC has been a good experience. "The Rally UHC team has been amazing," she told Cyclingnews. "The team is my second family now. The riders and staff have been so welcoming and supportive of my goals. Rally UHC has been a great fit for me and I'm grateful to be apart of it."