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US racing fans were treated to an incredibly exciting national road championships today. The country’s top professional road cyclists traveled to Winston-Salem for a chance to not only vie for the coveted Stars-and-Stripes jerseys but also to make a final push for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The stakes were high and the pressure must have been, too.
As a result, the peloton put on a thrilling show with courageous breakaways, patient team tactics and an exciting sprint finale. If you missed the action, you can watch the replay, here.
Megan Guarnier (Boels-Dolmans), fresh off her Tour of California win, proved that she is, once again, the best female cyclist in America. She outsprinted Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare) on the uphill sprint to be crowned national champion a third time. Mandy Heintz (Visit Dallas – DNA) rounded out the podium in third.
Hagens-Berman Supermint rider Ivy Audrain was in the midst of it all and was willing to share with us what the race was like from within the peloton.
US PRO Road Nationals! Winston Salem! An eight-mile circuit with 33 turns per lap?! Meaning: the crit that never ends? False. Crits have flat sections.
Have you ever done a race so complex that trying to keep track of where the next climb is, when the next turn is coming or even what lap you’re on? Feeling like I had to do math to keep track of it all at the US PRO road race felt like something like this:
But in all seriousness, this course is top notch, Winston Salem is an AMAZING place, the race was organized to perfection and we have the BEST HOSTS EVER. Barb won’t allow us to cook for ourselves and we love it.
Back to the race: A million turns, steep climbs and an incredibly strong field made this a real bike contest. The toughest climb on the course came just before the 1K to go signs.’Manly’ street was short and steep, and not graceful. It eventually starts to chip away at you, but feeling like I was floating up the climb the first few laps still probably looked like this:
This course in all its pointy glory meant our team was well equipped for this race, and ready to stay ever present.
We definitely did just that, from getting the hole-shot (because I was pretending I was in a three-hour crit), to Allison and Lindsay’s separate solo flyers, to the whole team patrolling the front and marking moves all day.
Finding myself in a 10-man break was a highlight, but it meant following some world class riders and burning through a lot of snax.
My favorite moment of the day though had to be seeing Scotti go for broke in the final few kilometers, and going into that final miserable climb first.
And then seeing her cash in her last check made me wish I could give her whatever measly amount of strength I had left. I’m proud to belong to a team full of riders who refuse to show up to a race and not make an impact.
We scrapped and battled, and while we missed out on the jersey, we did NOT miss out on the glory. Our new team lined up with some of the world’s best and made a statement: we are here to race…. And be #sofresh.
Next stop: crits and naps?
Ivy Audrain is a member of the new UCI Hagens Berman – Supermint team, making her debut as a pro this season.