One word describes my team’s (NOW and Novartis for MS) racing at Sea Otter; teamwork. I was the winner each day, but I could not have done it without my team. My teammates are the true winners of the four days of racing.
Day 1 was the Criterium. The team plan was to race our bikes, get in breakaways, and force the other riders and teams to chase. It worked. A breakaway never stayed away, but we raced and it was fun. On the last lap, Devon, Robin, and Olivia did a textbook lead-out for me to begin my sprint before the last 3 corners. It was textbook teamwork and almost easy for me to win the stage. A bonus on the day was getting the sprint jersey. A NOW and Novartis for MS rider won every single sprint and if someone wasn’t up the road, we had enough synergy to do a small lead-out for either Beth or me to get the sprint point.
Day 2 was the road race and we were ready to rip the legs off the other teams. As soon as the neutral start ended, Beth and Devon rode hard tempo on the front for the first lap. Then bam, we started attacking. Olivia was off the front a lap, Anne was off for a lap, the other teams were forced to chase, forced to expend energy, and eventually they all got tired. Our plan was working. During the last lap, a break of 4 got off the front and with two of them being NOW and Novartis for MS riders. Perfect. Over the second to last climb Lauren Rowney from LuLu-Specialized attacked. I hadn’t been doing anything all race other than sitting in the pack and saving my legs, so I was fresh. I went with Lauren and sat on her wheel while she chased the break of four with Anne and Olivia in it. Seeing that Lauren was coming with me on her wheel, Anne drove the break as hard as she could. Lauren had to chase hard, as I got a free ride. As soon as we caught the break of four, I attacked. No one came with me. Again, thanks to my teammates, it was easy for me to win. Yes, the last 2 km of that climb were very hard, but I didn’t have to race anyone but myself. Olivia beat Lauren for 2nd place and NOW and Novartis went 1-2 on the stage.
The Time Trial was day on 3. For many months before the race, I’ve been wanting to win the TT. The TT course was awesome, one lap of the road race. Finally, a TT course that has challenges; not your typical out and back boring TT course. This TT had hills, corners, rough roads, and wind. To do well on this course, you not only had to have power and fitness but you needed to have bike handling skills. Again, another great ride by all my teammates. I won, Anne got 2nd, and the rest of the team went 5th, 8th, 9th, and 11th.
The classic Circuit Race on the Speedway was on day 4. I won this race 2 years ago and wanted to win it again. But would it be possible for a four-peat? Plus, it would be really cool if another teammate won. Just like the other days of racing, the team plan was to be aggressive and always on the offense. Wow, every single teammate was on fire. The attacking and aggressive racing never stopped. If we weren’t being aggressive, I had a teammate leading me out for the sprint points. With two laps to go, Olivia told me to attack, keep “softening legs”. Apparently legs were already soft as Jackie Crowell from Exergy and I had an instant gap. The other teams just gave up. I couldn’t believe it. It was up to me to win. I was teammates with Jackie three years ago, so I knew she had a pretty good sprint. My only chance to beat her was if she had tired legs. I drilled it on the remaining two climbs, I drilled it on the downhill’s, and forced her to work on the flats. When it was time to sprint, there was no fight. I won easily and couldn’t believe it. I just won all four stages of the Sea Otter Classic! Honestly, I felt kind of bad and like a win hoard but, in the end, who cares as long as the winner is someone from NOW and Novartis for MS.
- Stage wins – Check
- Overall win – Check
- Sprint jersey – Check
- Teamwork – Check
- Fun- Check
If I could give a yellow jersey to all my teammates I would. They won the race.
By Allison Powers, NOW and Novartis for MS