Samantha Schneider (TIBCO/To The Top) won a two-up sprint over Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci) to earn the win at the Chris Thater Memorial, making it the first NRC victory for the USA U23 National Crit Champion. After numerous attacks were nullified in the 35-mile criterium, the duo made it off the front of the pack with 7 laps to go.
“I’m on cloud nine, the team rode awesome.” said Schneider after the race. With teammate Brooke Miller retiring, “We really really wanted to make it eventful and exciting.”
TIBCO’s Joanne Kiesanowski won the bunch sprint for 3rd after her team’s train took over in the final lap, with Brooke Miller providing the final leadout. It’s a toss as to whom was more excited, Kiesanowski or Miller in the final race of her professional career.
Attack, attack and attack some more. Tough it was a small field, with 42 riders in the final race of the NRC, that didn’t stop the attacks from flying. Almost every lap, a rider was off the front trying to escape starting off with Janel Holcomb (BMW-Bianchi) who kept on going after getting the first prime. And that was the story with BMW-Bianchi, Team VBF, TIBCO/To The Top and Colavita/Baci launching attack after attack, each one nullified pretty quickly.
One of the aggressors today was Cath Cheatley. With the NRC Individual classification sewn up, she and her Colavita/Baci squad was now looking for the team standings. “We came to the race with two goals really, number one was to nail the classification for the teams, and to obviously win the race. ”
TIBCO/To The Top was looking for a bunch sprint, but both Megan Guarnier and Meredith Miller tried a few attacks to soften up the field. Riding solo, Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) and Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12) made their way into a few attempts but none stuck, until the final ten laps.
As soon as her teammate Rushlee Buchanan, in her black & white New Zealand Crit Champion color, was reeled back in, Cheatley counter-attacked and Schneider jumped on her wheel.
“Today we wanted to keep it to a field bunch for a win for Jo because she’s been riding really well, she’s sprinting awesome.” Schneider explained. “We were trying to keep it together but we wanted to keep the numbers up there, and so when Cath went, oh I guess I’m going. I was trying to stay up front to keep Jo safe and protected.”
And that was it. With 6 laps to go around the 0.85-mile course with its four-corners, the duo had established a gap of 10 seconds. Two laps later it was up to 35 seconds with the field resigned to fighting for the third spot of the podium.
Tactics came into play for the pair off the front. “I was doing most of the work in the break, Sam was sitting on quite a bit, I was just trying to get her to pull through.” said Cheatley. “I just trying to keep the pace high, just trying to get some of the string out of her legs.”
“I’d pull out the hill and Emma was like ‘take it easy, take it easy’ just because she’ll probably attack because I didn’t want to be too fried. I did a little work but she did a lot of work in the break.” commented Schneider.
With 1 lap to go, the riders crossed the start/finish line side by side. Cat and mouse time.
“It was a little slower because we had the time,” said Schneider about the last lap. “We were waiting to see who was going to go. We went next to each other the whole course, until the last corner, it was a sprint, she went first and I sat on, trying to be as patient as possible. It worked out.”
Cheatley was the first one out of the final corner, at 350 meters from the line, but Schneider came around her for the win.
Behind them, Team TIBCO had its four-rider train lined up with Guarnier at the front, all working for Kiesanowski.
“I was definitely fighting for some wheels.” laughed Kiesanowski.
“I managed to get back on Brooke’s wheel, and Meredith just drove it down the back stretch to the last corner. I thought that Brooke was going to hold on actually because she had such a good gap going around that last corner, she just bombed it. I managed to get back into her slipstream and started coming around her at 100, 150 meters to go. And yeah powered to the line.” said Kiesanowski who is off to Bordeaux for a 3-week training period before flying to India for the Commonwealth Games.
When she saw that her teammate would get the field sprint, Brooke Miller sat up and celebrated. What a great way to end a career. (More on that later).
“It feels bloody good actually.” said Cheatley about finishing on top of the NRC.
Cheatley took over the top of the individual standings in early July after winning two stages and the overall at the 51st Annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. She extended her lead with her second place overall at Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic and a top five finish at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, NC.
With her second-place finish in the final race of the calendar, Cheatley did secure the NRC Team Classification for her squad. “When I was in the break with Sam, I knew she as a pretty good sprinter but I knew that even if I was outsprinted at the finish, the number goal would be met. It worked out pretty well.”
Cheatley and Buchanan will also represent their native New Zealand at the 19th Commonwealth Games in Delhi.
USA Crits. Leader Erica Allar stayed safely in the bunch and finished 9th in the race and won the overall with of Tiffany Pezzulo (Treads.com/DFT) finished second. Kacey Manderfield (Cycle Loft) won the Maxxis Best Young Rider presented by Cyclingnews.com and Lauren Ellis (BikeNZ), the Sportsbase Online Lap Leader presented by VeloNews.
The pro/1 men’s Chris Thater Memorial Crit, 50-mile (80.5-km) affair, raced on a technical 1.2-mile (1.9 km) course with 6 corners and the same hill, starts at 11:30 am ET on Sunday. On the line is the race victory and the men’s NRC Team title.
Follow @podium_live for all the action during the race; stay tuned here for reports and photos.
Top 10 Results
1. Samantha Schneider (TIBCO)
2. Catherine Cheatley (Colavita/Baci)
3. Joanne Kiesanowski (TIBCO)
4. Modesta Vzesniauskaite (Colavita/Baci)
5. Brooke Miller (TIBCO)
6. Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter Co TWENTY12)
7. Kaytee Boyd (Bike NZ)
8. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom)
9. Erica Allar
10. Kacey Manderfield (Cycle Loft)
Photo Gallery. Click for larger images or view photos in [autoviewer id="32" width="1000" height="540" link="flash autoviewer"]