June was a busy month of racing – I logged twelve days of racing in five different states. Rewinding to the beginning of the month, the racing started with a ‘practice’ race in Rockleigh, NJ to help us prepare for the biggest, most prestigious one-day race in America, the Liberty Classic, in Philadelphia, PA. After a few days at home, we regrouped the following weekend in Washington DC for two fast criteriums, which were part of the Air Force Classic. From there we hopped on a plane for Minnesota to race the grueling 5-day, 6-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix. Coming off a successful week of racing in MN, we jetted off to Augusta, GA to contest the time trial, criterium and road race at the US National Championships.
The Rockleigh Criterium is a weekly event that is held from May to August and is located around the corner from the Volvo headquarters, a Team TIBCO sponsor. As a way to open up our legs for the Liberty Classic and to showcase the team to Volvo, we jumped into this race alongside a bunch of men (we were the only women that night) to give them a run for their money. The race wasn’t easy by any means, but we were glued to any wheel that attempted to get away. Two of my teammates ended up being part of the 5-person winning break. They traded pull for pull with the guys and were only out paced in the final sprint. I’m pretty sure that night we opened a few eyes to how strong women are on a bike.
Three days later we were toeing the line in downtown Philadelphia for the Liberty Classic, one race on the calendar that I never want to miss because of the kind of energy and thrill that makes this race. We were amped up and nervous for this race all at once. Winning the Liberty Classic is a BIG deal for an individual and a team. Historically this race has come down to a field sprint more times than not, but we were hoping for a break to eliminate the chaos that goes along with a field sprint. The break never happened so all we could do was line it up for our sprinter in the last kilometer. We did our best to deliver Joelle to the line, but we ended up one place short of the podium. Despite the disappointment, the team raced well together and we were happy with our performance.
The following weekend in DC, we were hungry for a win. We came out at the Clarendon Cup firing on all cylinders. Attack after attack busted out of the peloton, but nothing stayed away so we set Joelle up for a sprint finish. She got a great jump out of the last, tight turn, turned on the afterburners and easily threw her hands up in victory across the finish line.
Winning the race the day before only made us more hungry for another win on day two. We raced hard, we gave it our all but came up one place short of victory. You win some, you lose some. We raced well, that counts for a lot. Plus, it gave us a lot of confidence heading into the next week of racing in MN.
The Nature Valley Grand Prix is a prominent and highly respected race on the national calendar, and this year the strongest peloton I had ever seen at this race was present. The peloton included the current road World Champion, former World Champions and numerous Olympians. There was no doubt we would have our hands full each and every day.
Day one started with a double day – TT in the morning and crit in the evening. Let’s just say day one wasn’t our best day of racing, but we knew we had a lot of racing yet to come so we looked forward to the road race on day two.
Again, we raced hard and played off each other well all day long. At the end of the day we didn’t have a big result, but we didn’t lose anything either.
On day three we were one lap away from the end of the Uptown Minneapolis criterium, lined up on the front of the peloton ready to deliver our sprinter to the line. We were dialed! And then there was a serious crash that happened right behind us. Only 20 riders escaped the chaos, however so many riders and bikes blocked the road behind us that we were unable to finish the race. Bummer! But, at least everyone was ok.
The Menomonie Falls road race the next day was awesome! Three TIBCO riders made it into the break of seven and they helped drive it all the way to the finish, which catapulted Erinne into second overall. It was a fantastic display of selfless teamwork!
The final day of the NVGP is the toughest of them all – the Stillwater Criterium. It’s the single, hardest crit all year and it comes after four days of racing. Brutal. I had a complete brain fart at the beginning of the race, which took me out of the race, but Erinne and the rest of the team rode their hearts out. The team was extremely proud and happy to see Erinne hold on to her second place overall after an exhausting but exciting week of racing.