Allar sprints to 2nd at Iron Hill Twilight; Cash and Roettger contest NRC’s Grand Cycling Classic
Erica Allar set her sights on the USA Crits Series overall leader’s jersey after finishing third at Athens Terrapin Twilights. Allar raced Athens, the first of the five races that make up the women’s series, in April. Three months later, she sprinted to second at the Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, PA and snagged the leader’s jersey.
“I’m excited have the jersey,” said Allar. “I can’t pretend I didn’t want to win the race, but the jersey was the main objective. I’m happy to have the jersey heading into Presby [Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium] which is a hometown race.”
“The crowds were absolutely phenomenal,” noted Allar. “There were thousands and thousands and thousands of people out there tonight. It was awesome.” The women’s field treated the spectators to fireworks. The New Zealand National Team, Bike NZ, brought four riders to the race. “They had the numbers,” explained Allar, “I believe they were the pursuit team. It was pretty apparent that they wanted to get someone off the front, and with their track racing background, I knew that if they got someone off solo, they could stay away. This put solo riders like myself on the defensive.”
The four-corner criterium covered .8 miles with a long home and back stretch separated by two short one-block stretches. “The course was not a sleigh ride,” commented Allar. “The short blocks kept the pace very high, and turns three and four were pretty technical. Especially turn three.”
Allar reports that she went from the gun. Her initial goal was to keep the pace high in an effort to thin out the field. “On the first lap, I went to the front, and I drilled it,” said Allar. “It was an aggressive move.” Allar reports that she remained active throughout the race as she covered repeated attacks from Bike NZ and various solo riders. “Unfortunately because Bike NZ had the numbers, I couldn’t cover absolutely everything,” she said. “I covered and covered and covered some more. Lauren Ellis (Bike NZ) got off the front while I took a moment to recover, so I wasn’t able to cover that particular move. In the end, that was the move that stuck.
In the race for second, Allar took control of the final lap. She lead through the final two turns. “I felt that it was necessary to go through corner three first,” explained Allar. “It was so technical. The final stretch was well over 300m, so I held off winding up until I saw Sarah Caravella (Team CARD) moving up on the right. That’s when I knew to kick it for the [field sprint] win.” Caravella rounded out the podium for third.
Two races remain in the USA Crits Series. Erica Allar will look to defend the leader’s jersey with a full Team Vera Bradley Foundation squad at Presbyterian Hospital Invitation Criterium in Charlotte, NC. The women’s edition of USA Crits Series concludes at Chris Thater Memorial in Binghamton, NY.
While Allar put her stamp on the USA Crits Series, Carrie Cash and guest rider (and team designer) Chris Roettger turned their attention the NRC circuit. The Grand Cycling Classic in Grand Rapids, MI drew a small but formidable field that included four riders from TIBCO, Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci) and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).
Cash described the race as “active, aggressive and fast-paced.” Attacks were frequent but no break gained more than ten seconds. “We could always see the break going into a turn,” explained Cash. “Each break was within striking distance. We wanted to be in moves but with just us, we had be selective with what we could cover. Chris [Roettger] went with Meredith [Miller] (TIBCO) once, and that got shut down pretty quickly. Later she launched on her own, and Meredith brought her back. Jo [Kiesanowski] (TIBCO) timed her attack perfectly, and when Cath [Cheatley] joined her, I knew that we might have just seen the winning move go up the road.”
Cash’s instincts were right. The breakaway duo of Kiesanowski and Cheatley proved to be the right combination, and the field began to prepare to sprint for third. Cash describes a chaotic finish.
“With two to go, I moved into the top five,” said Cash. “Meredith lit it up on the front and peeled off after the final corner. Laura [Van Gilder] launched with 300 meters to go. Nicole [Freedman] (Wheelworks Racing) had attacked with three turns to go. I thought we soaked her up going into the last turn, but she was on the right side all way against the barriers. I somehow just missed her.”
Van Gilder won the field sprint for the final podium spot. Freedman narrowly beat out Cash for fourth place. Cash ended the day in fifth. Roettger took eighth.
With the sprinters handling the big criteriums of the day, three other Team Vera Bradley Foundation riders contested local races. Carla Swart won the road race at the Piney Flats Omnium in Piney Flats, TN. Alison Powers and Anne Samplonius went fourth and fifth at the North Boulder Criterium in Boulder, CO.
Next on the NRC calendar for the team will be the Cascade Cycling Classic in Bend, OR on July 20-25.