Tibco’s Brooke Miller won the bunch to claim victory in the inaugural AToC Women’s Crit in 2008
(photo courtesy Stephanie Gutowski)
On Sunday February 15, the National Racing Calendar (NRC) kicks off, for the women, with the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Criterium in Santa Rosa, CA. For the second year, the race is held in conjunction with the men’s Amgen Tour of California being held on a portion of the Stage 1 finishing cicruit.
The current U.S. National Criterium and Road Race Champion Brooke Miller is returning to defend her title and will be backed by her Tibco teammates which include Kat Carroll, New Zealander Joanne Kiesanowski who was eighth in the 2008 World Championships and Meredith Miller.
Hoping to cross the finish line first is five-time US Criterium Champion Tina Pic of the Colavita/Sutter Home team and Katheryn Curi-Mattis winner of the Geelong World Cup last year with her Webcor teammates Gina Grain and Erinne Willock. The Proman team will be led by 2008 Elite National Track Champion Cari Higgins with Cherry Pie winner Megan Guarnier. Proman’s Shelley Olds is racing in Copenhagen World Cup and will not be in California. Also, look for the ValueAct Capital team with Chrissy Ruiter, Robin Farina and Martina Patella to ride aggressively. On her 18th season on a professional, Laura Van Gilder will be leading her new team SugarCRM and like many of the other athletes will be testing the waters at this weekend’s San Jose Classic Criterium.
But the team to watch will be Columbia-High Road with Swedish Champion Emilia Fahlin, the formadable Ina-Yoko Teutenberg winner of the 2008 Triple Crown and Liberty Classic, Canadian Champion Alex Wrubleski and workhorse Kim Anderson.
The race which starts at 1pm will be run on a 4-corner course where the women, with a maximum of eight cyclists per team, will vie for the $15,000 in prizes. And let’s be honest this is the chance to show the audience how exciting women’s cycling can be.
Originally announced in October 2008 as a 3-day stage race, the event has been scaled back to one crit and some teams have decided not to participate. Team Revolution wrote an open letter to AEG Sports President stating their decision to race at the Valley of the Sun and that “the disparity between the available support, financial and otherwise, for the professional male cyclist and the professional female cyclist is disheartening.”