Katie Hall continued her extraordinary run of success on the 2018 US Calendar Friday at the Colorado Classic Women's Race, taking out the Vail Pass time trial by 27 seconds over teammate Leah Thomas and by 49 seconds over Rally Cycling's Gillian Ellsay.
The 31-year-old UnitedHealthcare leader is now in charge of the GC by 26 seconds over Thomas and by 1:22 over Rally's Abby Mickey with just two flat stages remaining.
Friday's success continues a string of wins for Hall on the US circuit, starting with the Joe Martin Stage Race and the Tour of the Gila in April, the Redlands Bicycle Classic in May and the WorldTour Women's Tour of California later that same month. It's been a dominant performance that has been years in the making.
"I've been part of UnitedHealthcare for five years now, and I've really found the environment to be really supportive and to have helped in my development," Hall said after her performance on Vail Pass.
"In some years past I've raced for some of my teammates. We always get all of us behind one teammate, and often that teammate graduates out," Hall said.
"Last year I raced a lot for Ruth [Winder], and this year I sort of got my own opportunities, and I felt ready for them because I've been a part of this team so long and seen how riders win races."
Hall and Thomas have nice buffers to the rest of the peloton, and with two very flat stages to come, their leads look secure. But this is bike racing, and anything can happen before the race concludes in Denver on Sunday.
"We're kind of expecting it to stay together," Hall said. "I think that there are a lot of sprinters here looking for opportunities, but I know that Rally always show up ready to race, and I expect that they'll be aggressive because that's what we've seen from them all year."
Bound for Boels-Dolmans
Hall is the UnitedHealthcare rider to "graduate" this year, signing a deal with Dutch team Boels-Dolmans – arguably the strongest women's team in the world with riders like Anna van der Breggen and world champion Chantal Blaak. Hall said she feels a combination of nerves and excitement over the idea of joining the team in Europe next year.
"It's definitely both of those things," she said. "It's a big step, and just to be part of such a strong women's team over there is something I'm excited about. I want to be able to do really well for my teammates, and it's not a small thing to be able to attack for Anna van der Breggen. I've been thinking about how I'll be able to do that."
Hall has also been thinking about the team that got her career to where it is now.
"I'm so thankful to have had this biking family for the past five years and to be guided under Rachel Heal and Adrian Hedderman, and all our staff," she said. "They've just been so supportive and so wonderful."
Now she'll be starting over with a new team in a new environment, racing mostly on a different continent.
"Not starting over, but maybe taking a step back," Hall said when asked about next season. "I won't be a leader on my new team most of the time. Maybe I'll get a chance. I don't know. But it's not like I don't know anything. I've learned a lot about bike racing in America and Europe, so I feel ready to learn a lot more, but also to take what I've learned so far with me."
If you've ever wanted to know what it feels like to be part of a top-level cycling team, and to be on the ground, inside the barriers, at the Tour de France, then RUNNING WITH WOLVES will take you there. It is available to rent for $3.99 USD or buy for $6.99 USD.