Although it as a small field in the pro/1/2 women’s race, the racing was aggressive with multiple breaks forming in the 60-minute crit.
Straight from the start, riders from the three big teams, Colavita/Baci, TIBCO/To The Top and Team VBF, took turns at the front of the field upping the pace to try and get away. It didn’t take long for the first break to emerge, a trio with a representative from each team. Shuffling and re-shuffling took place at the front of a very dynamic field while others were being shelled out of the back.
But anytime a break would go, it included a rider from each of the big teams.
“Not every break but close.” smiled Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci) who made her way into many of the break attempts. “It was a tough race and every girl kept attacking. Obviously, I’m sprinting really well and I think they wanted to get into a break without me. I was in anything I could but if I wasn’t there, we made sure that we had either Modesta [Vzesniauskanite] or Shontell [Gauthier] in there, I think we rode really well today.”
One break that look strong included Toni Bradshaw (Team VBF), Shontell Gauthier (Colavita/Baci) and Miller. The trio was off the front for multiple laps with a gap hovering around the 30 seconds mark. But then the gap started to come down again until the field was able to see the trio up the road with less than 6 laps to go.
“The field was started to sit up a little and I saw an opportunity to jump and I tried to bridge solo and that didn’t work, I think the three of them saw us coming so they sat up and it all bunched up and another attack went straight away and I was able to jump into that one. ” explained Cliff-Ryan.
That attack was initiated by Lauren Hall (Team VBF) on the backside of the course. She was quickly joined by her teammate Carrie Cash, Miller, Cliff-Ryan and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).
“When I saw Theresa go, I said okay I have to get on that, and then I think Carrie and Laura came across. Once Team VBF had two riders there, that’s finally what sealed the deal and then everybody just sat up.” explained Miller.
Racing solo, Van Gilder had to be careful which attack she followed and which break she helped reel back during the race. “All the teams were always represented with three riders and of course that put me on the ropes a lot, I was able to make that last split that was the race winning split.”
The break. With five laps to go, the break was off and the field sat up. In the break, the pace-making was assumed by Hall as tactics became key.
“With VBF having two riders there, they had to do most of the work if it was going to stick, it was up to them basically. Laura did come through at one point because I think she would rather try and sprint out of a break than field too. As for me, well if Theresa isn’t doing any work, I’m not doing any work and I think that’s what it was. And I wasn’t the only one, I think Van Gilder was the same and so was Carrie Cash so it was really Lauren doing the bulk of the work out there. She did a good job at keeping the pace up but unfortunately any time she would come off the front, then we’d all spread out and look at each other, ‘alright who’s going to do it?'” said Miller.
And that’s it went until the final lap and the sprint for the line.
“I think we almost came to a track stand at one point. It was pretty funny ‘I’m never been part of a sprint like this where we’re just standing here looking at each other'” laughed Miller.
Cliff-Ryan agreed. “It was kind of strange sprint. Coming into the second to last turn, we were basically doing, I think about 10 miles an hour, it felt like we were doing a track sprint out there.”
Surrounded by sprinters, Miller was looking to start her own sprint further away because she “needs time to wind it up.” But every time she would accelerate, so would Cliff-Ryan.
Then, Cliff-Ryan went. “We didn’t get it going until about 50 meters to the last corner and I jumped.” She was first through the final corner and held it until the finish line to claim the victory. Miller came in second and Van Gilder third.
A successful year for Cliff-Ryan with nine wins so far, including the Tour of Somerville, USA Crits Speedweek, Redlands Criterium and the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational. “My training went really well this year I didn’t have any sicknesses or injury. Everything came together and then the new team, we all just work really work together, it’s been a good year. I’m really happy, next Monday I leave for Europe and race with the National team again, hopefully I can keep this going.”
Usually in the past the women’s US National Criterium Champion was also crowned on the same day and same course as the men’s Champion. But not this year, the women’s title was awarded in June, as part of the USA Cycling Elite Road Championships in Bend, Oregon. For one, Miller prefers having the champions all crowned on the same day.
“Honestly, the crit in Bend is not the most exciting course, its just a four-corner flat, for a National Championship, it doesn’t offer a whole lot, different options on a course like that. Having a breakaway is not going to happen, there’s nothing, it’s always going to come down to a field sprint on that course. I’ve always liked having Nationals with the men and the other categories, we do have a pretty big crowd here today, it just doesn’t have the same prestige for us anyway without having Nationals here.”
Top 10 Results
1. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/baci pb Cooking Light) 0:57:41
2. Meredith Miller (TIBCO/To The Top) st
3. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom)
4. Carrie Cash Wootteen (Team VBF) +0:00:01
5. Lauren Hall (Team VBF) +0:00:03
6. Modesta Vzesniauskanite (Colavita/baci pb Cooking Light) +0:00:23
7. Robin Farina (Team VBF)
8. Samantha Schneider (TIBCO/To The Top)
9. Megan Guarnier (TIBCO/To The Top) +0:00:24
10. Amy Stauffer (Priority Health Cycling Team)