Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategy’s Jade Wilcoxson is continuing her winning ways. Wilcoxson not only won the opening crit stage at the Sea Otter Classic but also the next day’s road race stage. She finished the Sea Otter Classic with a 3rd overall and the Sprint jersey.
“Sea Otter is training for Gila,“ said Wilcoxson. “I am hoping for good results. I also have the Amgen Tour of California Time Trial. I was third last year and I would like to be on the podium again. I also want to do well at Nationals in road and in the time trial.”
Wilcoxson was easily the breakout star of 2012. In only her first year as a professional rider, she won the Joe Martin Stage Race and Tour of the Elk Grove, and finished third at the Amgen Tour of California Women’s Time Trial Invitational.
“I really think I race best when I don’t put any pressure on myself,” continued Wilcoxson. “Last year was the perfect storm for me. Optum provided an environment where I could quit my day job and focus 100% on riding, which bumped thing up a notch. Having an amazing team and support staff surrounding me bumped up my racing yet another notch. Never putting any pressure on myself to get results helped me. It was all of these steps that helped me raise my game. Rachel (Heal) put everything in place for me to blossom and take my racing to next level. I really do attribute my success to the support staff of the team, From top down….from the owner to Rachel. To give us, the riders, the opportunity to just race our bikes. That is amazing. It makes a huge difference to not have to worry about the other stuff.”
After the road season was wrapping up, Wilcoxson chose to tackle a challenging cyclo-cross season.
“Last August the team looked for volunteers for the cross team. Optum wanted to put together a team of three women and three to four men. There was no pressure. If we were feeling good we could keep racing. If it’s not working for you, you can stop. I asked if I could keep my cross training bike since I did not have one at home, and I really wanted one. I thought I could do five or six races in exchange for a bike. I started racing.”
“The first USGP race in Fort Collins was pretty funny. We got a little tutorial from our mechanic on how to pit a bike and how to set up a bike. Eric Wohlberg and the guys who raced cross before took me under their wings. They took me on pre-rides and taught me lines. The first race I had five or six crashes. The second race I had four crashes. The third race I had three crashes. With each race I got progressively better. Coming up in Nationals I was very excited. I thought this would be the closer to my season. I went to a track camp a week before Nationals. I spent a lot of time doing team pursuit drills, I flew from USA Cycling Track camp to Nationals. Everybody told me that track camp was going to burn up my legs. At Nationals everything came together. My legs were there and I placed second which opened the door to the World’s team.”
“Going to World’s was an incredible experience. I am so glad that I did it but it dragged out my season. I was training up to World’s…from World’s I went to road team camp then from team camp I had three days at home. I then left for Europe for a month. The season has been pretty continuous for me. This year we trying to feel it out…to see how my body is responding. I haven’t been racing my bike long enough to really know my limits. We’ll see how it goes this season. If I have a good season I may race cross again. If it’s too much then I will not. I absolutely love racing cross and will be bummed if I can’t.”
Hopefully we will see her race cyclo-cross this year, but next up for Wilcoxson and her team is Silver City’s Tour of the Gila Powered by SRAM.