Domination. Victory in 6 of the 14 races, a combined total of 11 podium finishes, winner of Sprint Competition and winner of the overall at Superweek Pro Tour – that is the tally of the Colavita/Sutter Home Women’s Cycling Team p/b Cooking Light squad at the 41st annual Point Premium Root Beer International Cycling Classic p/b Time Warner Cable, which includes Superweek Pro Tour. The team consisted of Nicky Wangsgard who won the Overall, Shontell Gauthier who won the Sprint and guest rider Jen Purcell in the first half of the races.
The team came into the race with one goal – win the overall. “We had our team split, we had half our team in Cascade and half our team at Superweek and we definitely wanted to win. I was sent there to win, we wanted to win the yellow and luckily I did.” said Wangsgard.
The squad started started off strong by winning the first four races in a row. “We kind of swapped yellow jersey between the three of us.” And then successfully defended it until the end.
“It took a lot of teamwork, and day after day being ready because one bad finish, one crash and you can lose so many points.” said Wangsgard who’s strategy was to finish in the top 5 in every race to stay safe and grab points, and hope for “a little luck”.
After six races the team goal was augmented to also keep the red Sprint jersey in the team which at that moment was held by Purcell. “At that point, we realized we could get both jerseys. Originally our goal was to get the yellow of course but then we realized that we had the ability to get both jerseys so lets do both. ”
Purcell left after six races and the duo went on the mission to put the red Sprint jersey on Gauthier’s shoulders which they accomplish with two races to go.
“So then we reshuffled after she left and decided this is what we have to do and we did it. We had to battle against Hub Racing so we didn’t solidify the jersey until the second to last day. ”
After consolidating the lead in both sprint and overall, Wangsgard and Gauthier aimed for more victories.
“We were going for half the races that we wanted to win but there at the end, we kept getting second, second, second but second is not bad. Controlling things with just two of us and we all knew each other’s tactics at that point in the race so it was just who had anything left at that point because we were all pretty tired.”
Did defending the two jerseys hurt their chances in individual race victories? “That’s the problem I think, we wanted the sprint jersey, we wanted the yellow but we also wanted to win, I was helping her win the sprints and she was helping me at the end, I think it did kind of hurt there at the end [from winning a stage]. Who knows? Maybe we would still have been second if we had given up on the sprint jersey and just gone for stage wins, who knows?”
Day after day, race after race, the duo was watched and marked and part of their strategy was to play off any new rider that showed up at the race. “If anybody came in just from one day, we knew that they had fresh legs so we tried to build off of them and we knew that they wanted to win so we kept an eye on them. It was noticeable, you knew when the fresh legs were there.”
Racing so many days consecutively did take its toll however. “The adrenaline always steps at those moments but I would have to say that my sprint was not as long and as powerful towards the end. ”
Wangsgard won the overall with 279 points with Gauthier in second place at 37 points back, and Gauthier won the Sprint with 97 points, 18 points ahead of Veronica Martinez of Hub Racing.
“It was probably my biggest win of the year. I had a couple of NRC wins at Joe Martin and Manhattan Beach so I’ve had a couple of NRC wins but as far as stage races, this is my biggest win.”
While the field may have been relatively small, Superweek is important to women’s racing especially as the organizers had increased the number of races to 14 events.
“It’s important and I told director, ‘Keep it’. Maybe the numbers were small but that sets precedence. And we’re going to talk about how much fun we had, how organized things were. I really believe that the numbers will double next year if he keeps it.”