Road Nationals

Report by Anna Barensfeld

After an abysmal performance in the crit on Friday (pulled after 8 laps) I wanted to be aggressive in the road race on Sunday. The course was 113km, four laps of 27km plus a start and finish loop, rolling terrain with two significant climbs. Weather was clear, dry, and warm but we started at 8:15am so it wasn’t killer. Even so, with the dry heat in Bend I had to drink constantly all weekend to stay even minimally hydrated.

I was staying in downtown Bend just a mile or so from the start so I pedaled to the venue at Awbrey Butte and settled down in the shade to get prepped for the race (the teams lounge around in camp chairs under tents while their mechs get the bikes ready; I’m not jealous, really!). I felt relaxed and focused, totally ready to race.

The field was stacked, as usual; defending champ Meredith Miller and a full TIBCO squad, Evelyn Stevens and some HTC teammates, Alison Powers, Robin Farina, Erica Allar and the rest of team VBF, Mara Abbott, Shelley Evans and their PB&Co/2012 team, some Webcor riders, the usual Colavita suspects, then some assorted US National team riders, privateers, etc…! At this point in the season I’ve lined up against these people enough times not to be too starstruck once we get rolling and I made sure to work my way to the front of the pack. About 1/2 of the way into the first lap, I saw Arielle Filiberti moving up the left side of the pack and if I know her at all, I knew she was about to attack so I moved to the outside so I could get free and follow her. She immediately jumped off the front. A TIBCO rider (Devon Haskell) followed her and I waited a moment for another rider to follow so I could follow her wheel but no one did jump. Ari and Devon got a little gap and I knew I had to go! I jumped across the gap and no one followed me. None of us were real threats to the big players so they weren’t really concerned with our little move, but for me a successful race would be getting into a breakaway so here was my chance.

I never once looked back the entire time I was off the front but according to the moto our gap ranged from 35 seconds all the way up to 2 minutes at one point (mistake!?). Unfortunately Ari fell off when we hit the second hill on the first lap. A BMW-Bianchi rider bridged up about 1/3 of the way through the second lap, and another TIBCO rider bridged up shortly after that (which frustrated me). By the time we were deep in the second lap I was starting to feel the effects of the constant work and was having a hard time making myself eat; my legs started to cramp up a bit. Luckily USA Cycling had tons of neutral feeders in the feed zone so each time through I dumped water on my head and back and tried to keep cool.

Heidi Swift/Cyclingnews.com

Once the pack had had enough of our break, they really shut it down. The gap went from 2 minutes to 20 seconds so quickly, and we knew it was game over. They caught us just before the turn for the third lap. By then the pack had been weeded down quite a bit. I spent the third lap with the group, which turned out to be a pretty quick lap as the attacks started in earnest. I broke on the second hill before the fourth lap. A group of about 8 of us fell off, and we absorbed Robin Farina (VBF), Rebecca Much (TIBCO) and Rachel Warner (BMW) when their breakaway was in turn caught and passed by the pack.

We pulled to the finish about 5:20 behind the leaders who were all strung out after a really aggressive fourth lap. The course was a really good one, I think, for a nationals race. It wasn’t a pure climber’s course, or a sprinter’s course; didn’t suit any one strength. I finished 36th. I am happy with my race, having achieved my goal of being aggressive. I also really enjoyed racing with so many strong riders. I’ve learned a lot this season and especially the last few weeks, racing in Philly, Minnesota, and Bend. I’m happy to be home after a long road trip, though, and excited to be racing with my team at Fitchburg this weekend!

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