With team mates Jessica Cutler, Colleen Hayduk, and Jade Wilcoxson, Ruth Winder won the Women Team Pursuit Gold at the USA Cycling Elite Time Track National Championship held in Carson, CA earlier this month. This national title caps an amazing season for Winder. She raced in Europe in the spring, completed her first Giro Rosa for Team USA and won the best young rider category at the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic. This 20 year-old rider is developing into quite the rising road and track star.
Winder started racing on the track as a young teen, commuting from her home in the East Bay to the Hellyer County Park Velodrome in San Jose at least once a week.
“I got really interested in track when I went on Tuesday afternoons at the Junior sessions with Dave McCook and Andrew Lanier,” stated Winder. Lanier runs the original Junior Development Track Program sessions in Hellyer. The program is reserved for riders age 14-22. Historically it has served for training with an emphasis on skills development for higher level competition. The training at Hellyer was quite successful for Winder. She won her first National Championship at the 2010 USA Cycling Juniors Track Championship, winning the 17-18 7K Scratch Final.
“I am going to ride both track and road,” continued Winder. “I think track may be one of my better options for 2016. I heard that the road race will be very hilly and I would need to develop a lot of endurance for that. I do love the track and have always loved it. I would really like to be competitive in both.”
When asked if she saw herself as a sprinter, Winder stated, “Right now…I don’t know…it’s hard for me to describe what I am because I still think I am figuring it out. The high mountains definitely do not suit me right now, though I don’t mind hills. I have a pretty decent sprint though I do not consider myself a pure sprinter. I think I am a pretty good all-rounder. I think maybe that’s why track suits me so well. You need to be a good all-rounder on track.”
One of the highlights of the season for Winder was being asked to ride on Team USA at the Giro Rosa.
“To get the invite to ride for the American team at the Giro Rosa was pretty incredible. It actually clashed with U23 Nationals, but the experience of going to the Giro was much more important to me. It was a wonderful. The way we worked together as a team was fun. It was like what I saw while watching the Tour de France…racing up front and picking up the pace, bring a break back, keeping a good pace, working hard on a climb was incredible. It was a great experience. My favorite part of the race was being able to contribute to the team. I loved feeling that I was helpful….just being there for my team mate…was an incredible feeling. Lauren Tamayo was our team captain and she was a big inspiration for me. I look up to her a lot.”
Winder shared in her personal blog about racing in the Italian mountains on the Fourth of July and riding for the Maglia Rosa. “Now into the mountains and on the 4th of July too! Mara (Abbott) had plans to set off her own form of fireworks that day. We still didn’t have the Maglia Rosa by this point so had no real reason to spend more time than needed on the front. I just helped how I could keeping our climbers at the front and out the wind. Mara climbed amazingly, putting 5 minutes into (Marianna) Vos, and finishing the day in pink by 1 minute 27 seconds to Tatiana Guderzo. I arrived at the top 25ish minutes later with Janel (Holcomb) and Kristin (McGrath) after riding just hard enough to make the time cut.”
“Maglia Rosa! Time for some real work. The mountain we started on had gorgeous views and water falls. The first few kilometers were all up hill. First mission of the day: get over the climb in good position. Once we got down the descent of that climb it was Team USA to the front. Vos was in a break up the road. We chased and brought her back over about 30k. Then just rotated through. I was suffering terribly but it was awesome to be a part of it. When the road started going up again I was out, job done. The girls got Mara well placed then Lauren Hall, Lauren Tamayo, Brianna (Walle), Janel, and myself had a USA grupetto up to the top. Mara won again. Putting more time into 2nd now with a 2 minute 38 second lead.”
The experience of racing and defending the Maglia Rosa at the Giro Rosa was invaluable for Winder. She continues to gain experience and confidence in her racing abilities.
“When I first started I was so intimidated by all of my team mates. They were such big names and I was this little rider. Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic was my first stage race. Just to be able to race and help my team mates was so cool for me. My role has changed depending on the race now. Some races my team mates are working for me and other races I am working so hard for my team mate to win. I am working on strength, endurance and knowledge.”
Jono Coulter, Director, Vanderkitten Racing Team, commented on Winder, “Ruth is a pleasure to have on the team. Only a few years ago she was a young kid chomping at the bit, with a hunger and tenacity rare in a teenager. Now with a couple of Euro stints under her belt and some big wins for Vanderkitten as well as being a part of the winning Giro Rosa team, Ruth is maturing into a leader and a champion rider. We are proud to be a part of her journey.”
It will be exciting to see the next chapter of this talented, young rider.