Unrelenting is the word that Meredith Miller used to describe the route for the 2013 Amgen Tour of California Time Trial. On paper, the main difficulty of the 19.6-mile (31.6-km) stage in San Jose seems to be the final strenuous, three kilometer climb up Metcalf Road where the riders will gain nearly 1,000 feet in elevation and attack several pitches with a grade of 10 percent or more. But before that last fateful right-hand turn, the riders will be challenged by an early climb, rollers, a twisty fast descent and wind – all on their time trial bikes!
Miller and her TIBCO Women’s Pro Cycling teammate Jasmin Glaesser recon’ed the course last week in part of the preparation for the third annual Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial Race on Friday, May 17.
The course is familiar to many, as the first three-fourths takes place on the 2006 time trial route and finishes with the wicked climb up Metcalf. Soon after the start, the riders are faced with the short Bailey Climb followed by rollers and a quick left turn onto McKean Road at the bottom of a short descent. A few more ups and downs, a few sweeping turns and then the first long straight road of the course. After the 90º left turn, the gets twisty as it passes by the reservoir, and gradually climbs.
Miller continued, “A good little climb before you hit some steep twisting descent, it’s fast but on a TT bike, a little bit scarier than on the road bike and then flat, pretty open winds and today it was a headwind on the flat section so really no place to rest.”
A four-mile straight, flat road with no wind cover takes you back to Bailey Road before crossing Highway 101. Then another roller and another flat road with no shelter to the final right turn to Metcalf.
“So it’s really unrelenting, there’s really no place to rest on the course and then the last three kilometers – or however long the last climb – is steep, is really steep, it’s going to hurt. It’s going to be finding that balance of not going too hard early but keeping it steady so that you have something left for the very end.”
Glaesser agreed, “I think the pacing is going to be really important because there are so many different hard sections to the course. You have the climb right at the start, it’s definitely not easy and then some of the long straights are actually just a complete headwind, today anyway you never know what the conditions will be like on race day so I think the real challenge will be making sure you save enough to still be able to make it this final pitch.”
Is it one for the climbers or for the rouleurs? The 2013 Amgen Tour of California time trial will challenge the riders with flat roads, technical descents and a final steep climb, and winds can make it even harder.
“For the people that are good on the flats, they have to use that to their advantage and the people who are climbers get a food advantage at the end.” Miller said.
And where does Miller fit in that equation? “I’m just going to try and survive,” she laughed, “I’m not really a time trialist but we’ll see.”
Both the veteran Miller and neo-pro Glaesser will be participating for the first time in the women’s event.
“I know that I’m surrounded by good company so like I said, I really just hope to be on that day, with 15 women out there there is no place to hide in the results,” chuckled Miller, “so I yeah I just hope that I’m not dead last.”
“It’s definitely going to be tough. I don’t have that much experience in time trial but this is far and above the hardest one that I have ever had the unfortunate pleasure of doing.” Glaesser said with a laugh. “I’m very excited, it’s going to be a phenomenal event, I’m really excited for the opportunity and I think this [course] is going to make it really memorable for sure. It’s definitely going to be a challenge but I’m up for it. I want to do the best I can and really push it as far as I can.”
Glaesser who holds German and Canadian dual citizenship won the 2012 under-23 Canadian National Time Trial Championships and was part of the Canadian team that won the Team Pursuit Bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012.