Kristen Faulkner (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank) was in a league of her own as she crushed the women’s field to win the second Grasshopper Adventure Series race – Super Sweetwater. Moriah Wilson and Alison Tetrick rounded out the podium, but both finished more than 21minutes down on Faulkner.
The 27-year-old stuck with the leaders on the decisive first major climb around 15km and remained at the front of the race for much of the 145km event. She was the only woman to remain after the first split, which effectively sealed the win for her.
“I’ve done very few races with mass-starts and this was just my second Grasshopper,” she told Cyclingnews from her home in California.
“Everyone rolled out and then pretty quickly into the race there was a really steep climb. My plan from the start was to stay near the front, stay on a good wheel, and try to stay with the lead group.
“When the first hill came, that’s when the group spread out," she said. "I was still with the front group and my goal was just to stick with them. The front group then split a few more times, and there was one group of men that finished way before me. And then I was in the second group of men. There was a group behind us in which a lot of the other women finished.
“Basically at every single hill the group would disperse, regroup at the bottom of the descent and then we’d have a flat section with pace-lining," she said. "I didn’t see an entire woman after the first climb. I think that I finished 30th or so overall. Every time I was in the pace-line I was doing my share of pulls, but I was just trying to stay with them because I knew that if I was dropped then I’d be racing on my own.”
Faulkner joined Tibco at the start of this season and has never raced on gravel before. This event in the Grasshopper Series was all on road because the gravel climb that had been planned towards the end of the race was cut due to closures.
Faulkner – who says she is a huge fan of the series – will return at some point in the season as she loves to dovetail the events with her main focus, which is on the road. This win certainly gave her a boost in confidence before USA Pro Road Tour events at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas April 2-5 and the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California April 22-26.
“I just joined Tibco, so this is my first win as a pro, even though this wasn’t a pro event,"she said. "It gave me a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season. It’s my first year on Tibco, and a lot of my teammates have a lot better resumes than me. So this little boost helps.”
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