Going into the fourth and final stage of the Sea Otter Classic women’s stage race, the Exergy Twenty12 squad was coming out fighting. Their highest-placed rider was Swiss Road and TT national Champion Pascale Schnider at 2:40 down from yellow jersey Alison Powers (Now and Novartis).
“We were sitting fourth in the GC so we really had nothing to lose.” Jackie Crowell (Exergy Twenty12) told podiuminsight after the stage.
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While no riders managed to get off the front, many were shelled off the back in the race of attrition on the Laguna Seca racetrack with its 300-foot climb followed by the famous corkscrew descent. Finally one attack stuck, when Powers took a flyer with less than three laps to go. Only one rider jumped on the move. That rider was Crowell.
“We knew that we wanted to be aggressive, that’s what we did, we did a much better job of following NOW and Novartis who we knew that we had to key off of so we followed NOW and Novartis, we played a really smart race, we were looking for a late move and unfortunately so was Alison Powers.” Crowell laughed.
“I saw her go and I’ve been covering moves and it’s just one of those things where you’re like you’ve been going hard all day and you have to recognize that so have everyone else, you just have to suck it up, and suffer through it and that’s what gets you the results. It’s not so much luck, sometimes you just have to suffer and that’s what it was today. 17 times up the climb, I knew it was going to be challenging and so it was definitely a race of attrition.”
The pair was off with no concerted chase behind, the stage win would be decided between the two who knew each other well. Crowell slotted behind Powers, watching her and following her wheel in the descents. But in the end, Powers won the stage in the sprint and the overall classification.
“I’ve been teammates with Ali in the past, she’s a classy rider and just really strong. I have to say that she was definitely setting the pace, I was watching her to make sure that she wasn’t going to attack me. It was a good fair race, she got me in the sprint fair and square. She came from downhill skiing so I’m in my mind, I’ll just follow her on the descent, she takes the corners pretty well. She’s a safe wheel. It was good. I was thinking that I’d jump her in the sprint because I’m more of a power rider but she really had a good sprint today. She’s riding really well, four out of four stages, what are you going to do?” Crowell said.
She added with another smile, “My legs felt good so I really have no regrets other than the fact that I got second, first loser.”
The 24-year old rider was thoroughly enjoying her first Sea Otter Classic experience. “The weather is beautiful, I love Sea Otter, I’ve never been here and I have to say just the show of bikes and stuff is very, very inspiring because we only see the road side of it and it’s good to know that there’s people out there that are into mountain biking, I’ve seen some weird stuff around here, all kinds of crazy stuff and as long as it’s bike is welcome. I like that aspect of the Sea Otter Classic.”
The two teams will meet again at the SRAM Tour of the Gila in two weeks. “We’ll have a big team at Gila, Kristin Armstrong is going to be there, our director Simon will be there. We’re looking forwards to it.”