Racing attentively, Emily Kachorek (Primal/MapMyRide) made the two decisive selections and ultimately ended up fifth on stage 2 of the SRAM Tour of the Gila. Finishing 7th on the first day, Kachorek is feeling good about her riding so far on her second time at the stage race.
“I didn’t have any idea what to expect last year, and this year it was pretty scary going it. I haven’t really had any climbing experience with the faster national riders. I had a couple of flat tires at Sea Otter so that made kind of hard to see how I was going climbing wise. Redlands are just so short, it’s a different feel. I’m feeling pretty good about my fitness and I’m happy with my ride today. Take it one day at a time, it’s such a hard stage race and so much can change within one day.” Kachorek told podiumsinsight.
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The first split, of around 20 riders, happened early on in the 77.9 miles (125.4km) Inner Loop Road Race, as the field climbed the first QOM climb, only 10 miles into the stage.
“We all rode, there were some attacks, Now and Optum were peppering it pretty much the whole day, and Exergy was controlling the front with the riders that they had.” Kachorek explained.
Attacks continued from the NOW and Novartis for MS and Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies over the next climb and the valley. Kachorek and her teammate Jessica Cutler sat in and waited. Then, on the third and final climb of the day, a two-rider break was being reeled in.
“I anticipated that things were going to get hot again. Over the last QOM, there was a gap with Armstrong, Powers and Holcomb and I knew that that was the move. So I bridged up to it and then Carmen bridged up to it behind me, so then there was the five of us.”
Five riders were off the front. GC leader Kristin Armstrong (Exergy Twenty12), Alison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS), Optum-KBS teammates Carmen Small and Janel Holcomb and Kachorek. “With the two Optum, it was just constant attacks between the four of them with me pretty much just hanging on,” she laughed, “trying to follow it. And then eventually, Armstrong and Janel got off the front and then it was just myself, Carmen and Powers. Powers and I worked together a little bit, it’s a good move so I was pretty happy, trying to get as much time to get ready for the TT tomorrow.”
Kachorek finished fifth, 28 second behind winner Armstrong and moved up to sixth on GC.
Though she wasn’t expecting Armstrong to go in a break again, Kachorek wasn’t really surprised when she did. “I was actually more focused on Powers and I also knew that if Armstrong was in it, she would ride it because she’s so strong. That’s why I was thinking I don’t know if I’m going to make it but I’m going to try because that’s it.”
There is no denying that Armstrong is very strong, surviving attacks to decisively win two stages. Does that fact change the racing strategy for the Primal/MapMyRide squad? “With a small squad like us, we’re trying to me more opportunistic and just keeping an eye on her.” replied Kachorek. “Knowing that she’s so strong, that she’s going to try to win every stage and dictate what is going on. I don’t necessarily want to say that it closes down the wins, not at all because if she has a big enough gap, sometimes it opens them.”
With three stages to go, Kachorek hopes to improve her results from last year where she finished sixth overall. The next stage, the time trial, will be decisive. “Oh man. I want to work on my time trial more.” smiled Kachorek when asked about the 16.15-mile course with 1,188 feet (362 m) of climbing.
“I think I’m relatively naturally pretty good at it but I haven’t spent a ton of time working on it. Last year, I didn’t have a TT bike so I hopped on my director’s husband’s TT bike for Gila last year. Got on it the morning of, and actually had a good ride. On a borrowed bike, I ended up 10th last year so I was pretty happy with that.”
This year, Kachorek will be racing on her own BH time trial bike. “So I’m hoping for a good ride but we’ll see after two hard days out here. Just see how it goes.”
After the criterium on Saturday, the finale, the 71.8 miles (115.6km) Gila Monster Road Race. A stage where Kachorek did quite well last year, finishing fifth. “Last year I was in the break that ended up having a lot of time going into it, so I just got to ride it going at my own pace which was as hard as I could ride it but still sometimes I feel like a lot easier than having a group dictate the pace especially when you’re having to follow moves. So in some ways I thought it was one of the more easier stages for that reason. ”
Attacks will fly on that climb, a 7-mile long, 1,600 foot Copperas Vista climb of the Gila Cliff Dwelling followed by the dangerous descent. Kachorek hasn’t really thought of her plan for that day, not yet anyway. “I’m going to see how the TT goes and how that shakes out. I guess you have to try to go and then see what happens and then if you explode, then start riding at your own pace.” she concluded with a laugh.