Stage 2 of the Sea Otter Classic stage race brought the hilly road stage which culminates on a 1-mile uphill slog to the finish. Going into the 47-mile stage, climber Alisha Welsh (Primal/MapMyRide) had her eye on the two QOM sprints as well as a good finish. She delivered on her goal, taking top points and finishing fifth on the stage. Yellow jersey Alison Powers (Now and Novartis) solo’ed to the win followed by her teammate Olivia Dillon and Lauren Rowney (Specialized-lululemon).
“I wanted to give it a go so first time up, it worked out pretty good. So then I had a little bit of pressure to try and get the second and it worked out pretty good again so I’m really happy that I was able to get those two things out, that was one of our goals for today. That was excellent.” Welsh told podiuminsight after the race.
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The field stayed together on the first two laps around the 7.7-mile Ford Ord loop, with all attacks quickly neutralized. Then Dillon went up the road. Welsh was looking to get into the right counter-move.
“Olivia was off solo and then, there was some attacks going off. Exergy was doing some attacks, Vanderkitten was doing some attacks and it was just a matter of getting the right people up the road. I was trying to cover and get into moves but nobody was letting me go anywhere, so eventually the rubber band snapped and a couple got up the road.” Welsh explained. “From there, I had to come up with a different plan, there were a couple of individuals who were trying to figure out if we should work together.”
Then Rowney made her move. “Lauren Rowney is super strong, she took some good pulls on the front. At the feedzone hill, I out a big dig in and me, Alison and Lauren got off the front and then you were pretty much on your own trying to bridge or catch up.”
They ended up catching the break but at that point, it was every woman for herself on the final push to the finish.
“It was pretty tough.” Welsh said of the final climb. “You have a couple of miles in your legs. During the rest of the stage, you felt you had a little bit of a breeze but you started going up, it stops, you just feel your face radiate heat, you’re just hanging on until the end.”
As for what’s next for Welsh in the two final stages, it all depends what happens on the time trial on Saturday afternoon. The TT course is one loop of the road race stage.
Welsh concluded, “This will be the first test of a longer time trial. San Dimas is uphill, Redlands is uphill, first time on the real time trial bike so we’ll see.”