The first stage of the Sea Otter Classic women’s stage race, the 50-minute criterium came down to a final sprint won by Alison Powers (Now and Novartis) ahead of Lauren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon) and Emily Collins (Vanderkitten).
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The Now and Novartis attacked almost every lap, sending one rider up the road after another. “We wanted to keep the race hard. We have six strong riders, and we all of us like to ride our bikes not just sit in and sprint. The goal was to race and attack, make it hard.” Powers told podiuminsight after the race.
Though they attacked non-stop during the race, a break never stuck. Powers thinks that the 1-km course with two u-turns is not conducive to a riders escaping a chasing field.
“It’s pretty hard,” she said of trying to make a move stick, “because you make a u-turn at the bottom and then it’s a uphill headwind and it was really easy to sit in and to be on the front was really hard. I think with only a 50-minute race, it wasn’t quite long enough to kill everyone’s legs so it was really hard today to get away.”
With a few laps to go, it was obvious that the race would be decided in a bunch sprint, and then it was all about being the first rider through the final corners.
“For me I just wanted to be first through those last corners. That was the only goal for me, and we knew so everyone helped. One lap to go, we just kept it fast, it wasn’t an organized leadout, just keep it fast and then I can do my thing through those.” Powers explained.
Powers admits that she was concerned having fast sprinter and closer Rowney in the field. “That’s why I went early because if we waited for this (the final stretch) she’d whoop me bad.”
And she was the first rider through the final four corners, a position she held until the finish taking both the leader’s jersey and the points jersey.
Powers has a seven-second lead on Rowney and nine seconds on Collins with three stages to go. Two of those stages, the road stage and the time trial are unknowns to Powers who won the circuit race two years ago.
Racing continues on Friday with the 5 laps/47-mile road stage starting at 12:03pm PT. Follow the action live on @podium_live