In front of an enthusiastic crowd, Amber Pierce (Diadora-Pasta Zara) soloed to win the Tour de Nez, which for the first time was on the NRC for women. A sweet win in her hometown of Reno, Nevada was made even sweeter by the way she did. Planning a counter-attack after a prime sprint, Pierce took a solo flyer building up a gap lap after lap. As she said, she went all in.
Behind her the chase could not get organized, the field down to only 20 riders, sat up with five laps to go and started thinking about the other podium spots. Riding solo, and better known for her mountain biking and cross racing, Truckee-resident Katerina Nash (Luna) put in a massive pull on the final lap to try and drop the others but sprinter Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide) was able to come around Nash on the final straightaway to take second.
Strong solo riders combined with a few teams made for an interesting if small field of around 30 riders for the 60-minute crit on Sunday afternoon. Straight from the gun, solo rider Alison Starnes (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12) used her huge engine to string out the field causing riders to be shelled in the first laps. It wasn’t just the pace however, but the tough course and windy conditions that made it difficult. The technical 1.4-km included numerous turns and two chicanes, one uphill and one downhill.
Multiple breaks were tried during the race with the Vanderkitten-Focus riders, Jazzy Huriniko, Jenn Weinbrecht, creating short-lived breaks time and time again. Others trying their hands included Nicky Wangsgard (Primal/MapMyRide), Beth Newell (Fremont Bank), Starnes and Nash but nothing stuck until Pierce’s move.
Pierce had won at Nez before, claiming the Truckee criterium and the Northstar circuit race two years ago but it was her first time winning the Reno crit. Last year, she was racing at the Giro di Trentino during the same period.
The event was also the return of Alison Powers (Team TIBCO/To the Top) to NRC racing following er elbow injury sustained at the Redlands Bicycle Classic back in March.
Amber Pierce (Diadora-Pasta Zara). “I really didn’t expect to go alone. That first lap I worked hard to get the gap, and then I just kept looking back to people to come across, I can’t wait and decided okay this is it, I’m all in, if they bring me back, they bring me back, I just got to go. It was really hard but it’s the sweetest way to win.”
About her attack. “I was just trying to stay near the front because I was in good position for those corners that were a little bit sketchy but also keep on eye on who’s doing what and you get a feel for what the teams want to do, which teams want a field sprint, which teams want a breakaway. In the middle of the race, they announced a $100 prime, there would be a few attacks so I thought I’ll just go with it, and I’ll counter, they were coming to the line and I thought heck its one hundred bucks so I’ll just go and I just kept on going.”
About winning at home. “There’s nothing better. Everybody was asking me all week, what is your plan? And I said geez you always want to go for the win but there’s no guarantee, there are strong women here, I’m racing alone, you need luck, the tactics have to play into your favor somehow, there’s no way to guarantee that. It’s really sweet to win, even better to win solo off the front.”
Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide). “I was really happy to win the field sprint. With three laps to go, Katerina was up there, Alison Powers was up there, Alison Starnes these are the girls that are going to be super strong. With three laps to go, I had my teammate Liza helping me stay near the front and then on the last lap, Katerina went at the bottom of the hill and she just did not stop. Emily Collins was on her wheel and I came on the inside coming into the last two turns, and then was on Katerina coming through the last turn Everyone says that you have to be first through that last corner but I just had a little bit of an extra kick to get to the line.”
About the team plan. “This is a great breakaway course and our hope was to get one or two of us into a break and then play it from there. There were attacks but the course just naturally lent itself to a breakaway. With the wind too, it was hard no matter where you were in the field so it was better to be near the front. We were splitting up the work, covering moves, rolling through some of those smaller breaks but once Amber went. It just did not organize and then people were trying to bridge, you see that happen, it’s either people are invested in trying to bridge or invested in trying to bring it back.”
Katerina Nash (Luna). “I train in Reno a lot. It’s such a different type of racing but it really helps me, every different race that you can jump into is good, mountain biking, cross, it’s awesome.”
About her plan for the race. “You don’t have much of a plan if you’re solo, I didn’t see the teams working together really, I was expecting a little bit more effort out there, I didn’t want to race for second so I really put it out there for the last five laps, it didn’t pay off. Amber got away, she was super strong, she deserved to win.”
Top 10 Tour de Nez Results (Complete Results)
1. Amber Pierce (Diadora-Pasta Zara) 58:20
2. Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide) 58:54
3. Katerina Nash (Luna Pro Team) 58:54
4. Emily Collins (Vanderkitten-Focus) 58:54
5. Mary Elizabeth Maroon (Webcor/Alto Velo) 58:54
6. Rebecca Werner (Webcor/Alto Velo) 58:54
7. Jane Robertson (Metromint Cycling) 58:54
8. Alison Powers (Team TIBCO/To The Top) 58:54
9. Liza Rachetto (Primal/MapMyRide) 58:54
10. Jennifer Weinbrecht (Vanderkitten-Focus) 58:54