Sunday was a day for podiums for Team Vera Bradley Foundation, as Robin Farina wrapped up a successful weekend of racing in Arlington, VA by winning the Air Force Classic Crystal Cup and Carrie Cash garnered her first NRC podium in St. Louis’ Tour de Grove.
In Arlington, the trio of Erica Allar, Farina and Carla Swart took to the streets of Crystal City on a hot Sunday afternoon and faced tough competition by the hungry Colavita-Baci five-woman squad, Kenda as well as several other regional teams.
“We knew that Colavita would be the team to watch,” commented director Lisa Hunt. “And we would be happy either with a breakaway or a sprint.”
Both Farina and Swart were quick to cover breakaways and an early move that included Farina, Andrea Dvorak (Colavita/Baci) and Sinead Miller (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) gained some time on a hard charging field, but was reeled in. At the mid-point in the race, it was Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci) who accelerated, and Farina was quick to cover the move. Erin Sillman (Fruit 66) joined the two.
“I was watching Cath and Dvorak the whole race, covering them for a break,” Farina said. “We knew they were going to be aggressive and that they would be okay with having a break. Cath and I drove the break and Erin seemed happy to sit on. She knew early that she wasn’t going to out sprint us or go for primes she was there for the ride.”
Farina lead the trio through the final three corners and onto the finishing straightaway with Cheatley and Sillman on her wheel. She paid close attention to Cheatley, who started her sprint with 400 metres to go. Farina reacted to Cheatley’s attack and was strong enough to maintain her lead all the way to the finish line.
Carrie Cash did her hometown crowd proud this weekend in St. Louis, MO as she stormed to back-to-back wins in the Tour de Grove preview races on Saturday and took second place in Sunday’s NRC circuit race. “It was nice to have the driving force of the crowd cheering me on,” said Cash. “It’s hard not to succeed with that kind of support behind my effort.”
A new event on the NRC calendar, the 40-mile, 14 lap Tour de Grove proved to be a challenging course. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) initiated a solo break three laps into the 40-mile 14 lap race. Initially, the field seemed content to allow Van Gilder, who had nearly a minute lead at the mid-point of the race, to time trial in for the win.
When a prime was offered to the field, Cash showed how she earned her nickname “Queen of Primes” as she handily took the $125 and used the accompanying gap as a potential launching pad to bridge up to Van Gilder. Nicky Wangsgard (Roosters/Edge Composites) broke away from the field and joined Cash in the chase. The duo closed in on Van Gilder and whittled down her gap to less than 15 seconds with three laps to go.
Cash said she knew she wanted to get away from the field and called the prime an opportune moment. She adds “when I went, I wanted to take Nicky with me. I didn’t exactly wait for her but I was definitely looking for her. I was happy when she made her way up to me. We worked well together.”
In the end, Van Gilder remained just out of reach and crossed the line alone for the win. Cash and Wangsgard treated spectators to a side-by-side drag race across the slightly uphill 300m finishing stretch. The crowd went wild as Cash narrowly edged out Wangsgard for second place.
Alison Testroete, riding for Team Canada, raced another new edition to the cycling calendar. La Grande Visite de Gatineau, a UCI race in Ottawa, Canada, drew a strong field for the two-day, two-event race. Testroete called the GP Cycliste de Gatineau, a 99.2km (61 mile) road race, “aggressive from the gun.”
With most of the top North American teams represented, the field kept the pace high throughout the race. “HTC-Columbia did the bulk of the work,” said Testroete. “They wanted a break to go. There were lots of breaks but none that stayed away.”
The race featured a technical finish. In the final corner, going around a roundabout, Kirsty Broun (Australian National Team), slid out and took much of the field down with her. “I went into the corner third wheel,” said Testroete. “I missed the crash and thought I had third, but Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Colavita Baci) nipped me just before the line.”
Joelle Numainville (Webcor) took the win. Joanne Kiesanowski finished in second. “Obviously, I would have liked to have gotten on the podium, but I wasn’t feeling that well today. I told myself, just make sure to have good position and give yourself a fair shot, and that’s what I did,” reports Testroete.
The team travels to Minneapolis, MN for the Nature Valley Grand Prix, which begins on Wednesday.