Alison Powers stunned the peloton by winning one of the most suspenseful editions of the USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championships in recent years. The Now & Novartis for MS rider escaped in the early laps of the 90-minute race with TIBCO's Amanda Miller, and the pair held off the bunch sprint by mere seconds. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Fearless Femme) took third from the field.
The victory followed a scintillating final 10 laps, where the duo's 30 second breakaway was whittled to less than 8 seconds with three laps to go, but the peloton ran out of steam in the closing kilometers and failed to shut down the gap.
"We thought it was suicide," Powers said of the early breakaway. Not known as a criterium specialist, Powers had aimed her season more specifically around the road championships in Chattanooga, but traded in bronze in both the time trial and road race for gold in today's crit. She attributed her unexpected victory today to the longer format of the race, and her increased freshness after a post-road nationals break.
"It's amazing, I never expected this. I had a nice four-week break before Cascade Classic spent at home riding my mountain bike and drinking margaritas. I was able to recover, get some nice training in and be fresh mentally. That really matters."
With a heavy criterium schedule preceding the national championships, and most of the National Criterium Calendar races under an hour long, Powers said the 90-minute race and the longer course favored the stage racers. Wet roads and drizzly rain early on also helped to stifle the chase.
"The team strategy was to attack and make the sprinters' legs tired, but it was so slow at first I thought if we keep going like this they'll never get tired. My teammate Devon attacked, so I went off with her and luckily Amanda came. We thought we'd keep going and work together, make the other teams chase, and when we got tired our teammates could take over.
"Even with 10 laps to go, I still thought it was suicide. It started to get close, but we both dug deep and I can't believe we stayed away. I know that my team, especially Robin Farina, was at the front keeping the pace slow. I can't share the jersey, but it was a team effort."
The pair could see the peloton with two laps to go, but Miller said Powers kept encouraging her. "Even though I wasn't doing my fair share, because I couldn't, it was still enough to hold them off."
Miller said she was pretty happy with second place. "I would have liked to have won, but Alison is a worthy champion. I knew our chances were pretty good because the course was still wet, and Alison is a really good bike handler.
"We talked about it in the break, we were in it until the line. We couldn't play cat and mouse because we knew it would come down to barely anything. We were fully committed, and had faith in our teammates that if we got caught they would pull off a good sprint."
Cliff-Ryan, the defending champion, was surprised that the break wasn't caught, but said there was lack of agreement in the field. "There were a lot of good sprinters in the field, so there wasn't one team who wanted to use up their full team and leave their sprinter with no help in the end. Erica made a few attacks, and I pulled through a couple times, but it wasn't working for the peloton. When the sprinters come through, the peloton has had it. We knew it would be tough to pull back two time trialists."
"I'm disappointed of course, I wanted to defend my jersey, but that's how it goes sometimes. I'm happy to pull off a podium for Fearless Femme."
|1||Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS)|
|2||Amanda Miller (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)|
|3||Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy Cycling-Vie 13)|
|4||Lauren Hall (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|5||Lauren Stephens (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)|
|6||Amy Cutler (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)|
|7||Mary Elizabeth Maroon (SBRacing)|
|8||Jennifer Purcell (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|9||Samantha Schneider (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)|
|10||Meredith Miller (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)|
|11||Alexis Ryan (NOW and Novartis for MS)|
|12||Morgan Patton (Team Novo Nordisk)|
|13||Amy Phillips (Hub Endurance Women's Cycling Team)|
|14||Mary Zider (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|15||Amy McGuire (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)|
|16||Devon Gorry (NOW and Novartis for MS)|
|17||Tina Pic (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|18||Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom Racing)|
|19||Anna Sanders (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)|
|20||Erica Allar (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon Corp)|
|21||Julie Kuliecza (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)|
|22||Allison Arensman (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)|
|23||Sara Tussey (Hincapie Cycling)|
|24||Lauren Komanski (NOW and Novartis for MS)|
|25||Jamie Bookwalter (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|26||Whitney Schultz (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|27||Robin Farina (NOW and Novartis for MS)|
|28||Lindsay Bayer (Colavita-Fine Cooking)|
|29||Kathryne Carr (SKINourishment p/b Paceline Projects)|
|30||Janel Holcomb (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|31||Erin Silliman (Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy Cycling-Vie 13)|
|32||Jessica Prinner (CARE4CYCLING powered by Solomon Corp)|
|33||Katherine Shields (PainPathways Cycling Team)|
|34||Colleen Gulick (Team Kenda presented by RACC)|
|35||Kailin Acheson (Team Belladium)|
|DNS||Shannon Parrish (Team Kenda presented by RACC)|
|DNS||Shelley Olds (Team TIBCO/ To the Top)|
|DNF||Kelly Fisher-Goodwin (Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy Cycling-Vie 13)|
|DNF||Christy Keely (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)|
|DNF||Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse/Oogie Racing)|
|DNF||Jade Wilcoxson (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|DNF||Brianna Walle (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|DNF||Amber Gaffney (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|DNF||Grace Alexander (Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|DNF||Rachel Byus (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)|
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Laura Weislo has been with Cyclingnews since 2006 after making a switch from a career in science. As Deputy Editor, she coordinates coverage for North American events and global news. As former elite-level road racer who dabbled in cyclo-cross and track, Laura has a passion for all three disciplines. When not working she likes to go camping and explore lesser traveled roads, paths and gravel tracks.
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