Tour of PEI: Stage 4 & 5 - Women's
Stage 3, 120K road race
This road stage felt flatter than the previous day with its relentless rollers. There were 3 intermediate sprints and 3 QOM sprints during the race. An early break went with 3 riders who were no threat to GC, and that kept the race pretty tame actually until almost the last 20 km! There were a few crashes, the first being just approaching the feed zone, and that’s where Sam and Nat and Mary got crashed. Luckily, Sam and Nat both got back in. Mary was feeling good but had a mechanical problem after that and had to pack it in for the day and the race. Things sped up once we caught the break, and we crested a hill onto an exposed windy section that was just brutal. I’m not sure who was killing it at the front, maybe Menikini?, but we were strung out in the gutter, tongues dangling, just fighting to stay on a wheel for several kilometers. When I couldn’t pedal any harder and I felt myself ! slippin g away, I looked back and saw a huge gap, and knew it was now or never: I had to stay with the field. With a little help from a small chase that immediately formed, I got back on. I really couldn’t believe the wind and how hard those kms were. Girls were shoving each other into the gutter and off the road to stay on wheels with the direction the wind was coming from. We came into the last km, and I grabbed the lead-out train of the Cuban riders (one of whom by the way, actually PUNCHED Natalie during the race!) but Rochelle Gilmore came up alongside me and elbowed me. They were the wheels to be on. I was in the gutter on the right, the road bent to the right and I had no idea what was ahead or where the finish line was. I lost the wheel and rolled in with the pack. The Cubans crossed the line 1 &2 ahead of Rochelle, but one of them was relegated to the back of the pack for not holding her line in the sprint. Leda also! finish ed in the pack after riding strong at the front all day.
A fast 1km rectangle crit with a gradual incline on two sides into a flat finish. Short finish straight, barely 200m to the line from the last corner. The first 10 laps were brutal and all about position. It strung out right away and gaps opened and that was the end for many riders. I started at the back but made massive efforts to move up as much as I could and just made it with the pack. A break of 3 got away and that kept the pace a bit slower for the middle of the race, but Menikini brought it back, and we caught them with 2 to go. I played the game of having to hit my brakes into the corners and close gaps at the back and every time I tried so hard to move up, I spent so much energy that I couldn’t hold my position, and I’d slip back again. Given my massive stomach problems the night before and that I had no food all day before the race, I was incredibly! happy to finish! Leda rode great, but just didn’t have positioning for the sprint and got blocked in.
From the team director (aka moi):
Again, mucho congratulations to the ladies on completing their first UCI [stage] race! They gained much experience to bring back home to the US and have a greater confidence going into the upcoming local, regional and NRC races. Bring on Fitchburg!!!!