Posted by Editoress on 03/7/06
Sweeney Clutches First Top-Five NRC Place for CPT-Colnago
In their first week of national-caliber racing, the Colorado Premier Training-Colnago Professional Women's Cycling Team scored two top-10 positions at the McLane Pacific Cycling Classic. Nicky Wangsgard began the weekend with a sixth in the Downtown Grand Prix, and Lisa Sweeney finished off all but three of her 11 breakaway companions in the 72-mile Foothills Road Race.
For the weekend's races, the team brought four riders: Molly Hummel Miranda Duff, Sweeney and Wangsgard. Saturday's Downtown Grand Prix kicked off the weekend of racing, and with strong backing from the community, it was a great event for spectators and participants. Though many riders felt a road race would be useful for easing into the racing season, it was to be full speed from the gun. Wangsgard and Sweeney were very active covering attacks, while Hummel kept Miranda out of danger in the field.
For a short time, a breakaway formed with Wangsgard, Van Guilder (Team Lipton), Becky Broeder (T-Mobile) and Christine Thorburn (Webcor-Platinum), among others, but Team Lipton and Victory Brewing had good motivation to keep the field together, and the break was brought into the fold with six laps remaining. With Sweeney and Duff caught behind a crash, Wangsgard picked Van Guilder's lead-out wheel and stuck to it, but it was not enough, as she was sixth on the day.
Sunday's Foothills Road Race was met with renewed motivation by the team. Sweeney remarked, "I'm going to giv'er if I get any opportunity," and the flying Canuck found success. The pace was high, about 25 mph throughout the race, with teams Lipton, Victory, and Webcor initiating breaks in the first half. Forty-two miles into the 72-mile race, the significant break formed. Wangsgard evaluated the players, and with Van Guilder and Willock in the 12-rider group, it could not be missed. Wangsgard attacked from the field and set up a counter opportunity for Sweeney, who bridged the 15-second gap in about 30 seconds.
All aboard the break were doing equal shares, save for two club riders who did well to make the split. With the last three, heavily rolling miles approaching, Sweeney lessened her workload and began to conserve for the finish. Erinne Willock was the first to attack, but just made it to the last crest before fading. Dotsie Bausch (Colavita Cooking Light) was the next over, followed by Van Guilder, Anderson (T-Mobile) and Sweeney. The next 500 meters of downhill prevented much overtaking, and they finished in that order, with Wangsgard coming in seventh in the field.
Lisa Sweeney's Race Journal
"The McLane Classic: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the NRC Series"
This weekend, March 4-5, was my first weekend of racing this year. It was also my first NRC race ever, my first time racing for a pro team, and my first race in California. As the only Canadian on the Colorado-based CPT-Colnago team, I had no idea what I was in for (it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be).
The McLane Classic started with a technical crit - what a great way to kick off the season (note sarcasm). There was a little inflated archway about halfway through the course that we all had to squeeze our way through - this caused an amazing amount of havoc.There were crashes every few laps as someone inevitably got squeezed out going through the archway. Thankfully I spent the majority of the race near the front and managed to avoid the majority of the crashes. My legs felt great, and I was able to go with some moves, and even heard my name over the loudspeaker twice!
Sadly, though, the fun came to an end with three laps to go. I wasn't able to avoid the last crash and went down (not hard, though, but enough to scrape my shifter). No free laps after five to go - so I chased for about half a lap but couldn't regain contact. Phlllt. Kudos to Nicky Wangsgard for her sixth- place finish. She's quick!
I was happy to get one race under my belt - it gave me some confidence in my fitness and got me pumped for the road race the following day. Road races are better than crits anyway...
So, the following day we shipped out to the boonies for a 77-mile (115 km) road race. The terrain wasn't super challenging. Rolling hills (read: no hills) and a fair bit of wind. Our team's strategy was to make sure we had someone in the break if one went - easier said than done. At first, it looked like it would all stay together. A few dangerous moves went up the road but were quickly reeled back. We decided not to be overly zealous with following moves - there were only four of us, and the other big teams had many more riders. We decided to stay vigilant at the front. Finally, something dangerous stuck. Nicky attacked, and when that was reeled back, I countered hard and managed to bridge up to the break - a serious bit of effort that was well worth it. My teammates (Nicky, Molly, and Miranda) in the bunch policed the field and waited for opportunities to get another of us to the break, but it was not to be.
I was the only CPT-Colnago rider in a break of 12, including two Lipton girls, two Colavita-Quark girls, and a spattering of other teams, including fellow Canadians Erinne Willock of Webcor and Laura Yoisten of Victory Brewing.
The break worked well togther, and we managed to keep a gap of about a minute on the field. I was really surprised that no attacks were launched from the break until about a kilometer to go, when Erinne Willock initiated the sprint. I followed Laura, but Dotsie Cowden and Laura Van Gilder attacked from the other side with T-Mobile rider Kim Anderson closely in tow. I passed Erinne and Laura Yoisten and grabbed fourth. Just off the podium - but an amazing result for me in my first NRC road race.
I've left room for improvement...
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