This past week was the season opener of the USA Cycling American Road Calendar launching with the 27th Annual John Early Memorial Valley of the Sun Stage Race. The event kicked off with a 14.65 mile time trial, one of the few longer time trials left in US stage racing. With athletes having very little opportunity to race a championship distance course Sho-Air TWENTY20 seized the opportunity to test out new equipment and dial in the craft of time trialing.
Allie Legg (USA) (formerly Dragoo) took the win on the flat windy out and back course over her teammate Jasmin Duehring (CAN) while 18-year-old Simone Boilard (CAN) took the 5th spot, setting the team up well for the general classification.
“I had a great time racing at Valley of the Sun this year. I am super encouraged by how well the team worked together and I cannot wait to see the same effort at each race. I am confident in them and I am proud of them. I won the time trial which was a huge boost of confidence for myself. It has been a while and Friday morning I chose to believe in myself, keep the same routine, and really focus on the moment. I honestly prayed my way and asked for strength the whole time. My faith never fails the battles I face. I knew I had a pretty decent time and my body felt the shock that it should after an extremely hard effort, not to mention, the TT was 14 miles and is one of the longest of the season. Woo Hoo! We stacked the top 10.” commented Legg.
Stage 2 was aggressive from the start with Hagens Berman Supermint ‘s roster of 10 attacking in groups. The pace didn’t really settle over the 62-mile course and was marred with a couple of significant crashes that split the field. Sho-Air TWENTY20 did a stellar job of keeping Legg in the front group after a crash which left Legg on the bottom of a pile of athletes. The race eventually came down to a select group including Rally UHC’s Megan Jastrab who took the win over Jasmin Duehring in 2nd and Sofia Arreola (MEX) 3rd. Arreola is using the event as the final prep for UCI Track World Championships coming up in Poland.
“Our team set the pace from the gun to defend the yellow jersey. Even with three riders getting caught up in a crash we stayed in control and forced a final sprint. Sophia and I were able to finish off the strong efforts by the whole team, taking third and second place on the day while Allie kept the race lead.” Said Duehring.
The final stage saw a fast and furious criterium with the primary goal of retaining the leader’s jersey.
“Going into the crit our top priority was to keep Allie’s first place in GC, so we knew we needed to keep the group together by riding on the front and controlling the race. This was our first criterium racing together this season and I was impressed by everyone’s ability to communicate while the dynamics of the race kept changing,” commented Melanie Wong. “ Primes in the late stages of the race kept the pace high, but seeing my teammates around me in the final laps really motivated me to push towards the front for the sprint.” Wong was 4th on the stage with Powless in 5th.
The team concluded the weekend with Allie Legg keeping the leader’s jersey, Jasmin Duehring in 2nd and Simone Boilard in 6th.
“Valley of the Sun was a perfect early season test for our team. We used the time as a group to grow together and it was also the perfect opportunity to make sure our TT positions were good under race conditions. I was really pleased with how the team performed. The time trial was a great indicator of fitness and managing to have 3 athletes in the top 5 was a nice bonus. We were able to practice teamwork and strategy in both the road race and criterium and I believe we set a good standard from which we can grow as a team.” Commented Mari Holden, team director.