The Mutual of Enumclaw Stage Race was the last race of the Tour of Washington series, and the women’s team made it a goal to move Holly up to 2nd place in the overall points GC. I was excited to host the team at my house and take them on some Olympia roads the day prior to the race. It was a nice way to spin out the legs after experiencing the worst I-5 traffic on a Friday afternoon.
Stage one was a point-to-point TT that presented itself with more wind than usual. We were all happy with our performances on the stage with Holly powering to 2nd place, less than 40 seconds from the winning time! Sarah had mentioned that she could have benefitted from previewing the course ahead of time, but that didn’t stop her from having an amazing 3rd place ride!
We waited for the men to finish up, grabbed food at a delicious breakfast place, then relaxed in the downtown area for our crit later that day. Our plan was to send Holly or Sarah up the road to potentially move up in the GC, and if it came down to a bunch sprint, we would do a lead out train in the final two laps.
At Tour de Bloom we had done an excellent job at taking every single prime, but we struggled to find each other for the finish. This time, we wanted to make sure that didn’t happen. Early on, we initiated a couple of attacks. I found myself in a short-lived break with the GC leader, not an ideal situation, but I won my first cash prime in the process so that was exciting!
What was really challenging about this race was how small the field was (15) because it was difficult to recover with no where to hide. In the end, we all stayed together, with Holly and Sarah picking up lots of primes including a $100 from the Tour de Bloom organizer. Despite lots of jostling, we all found each other with two laps to go and formed a perfect lead-out train that put our sprinters, Holly and Sarah, going 1-2 into the chicane.
Even after sprinting for so many primes, Holly still had the strength to take the win! And Sarah was just barely nudged out for 3rd to round out the podium! We were all happy to have successfully executed our plan. For such great results, Sarah and Holly were taken away by anti-doping control for their first drug testing. Meanwhile, Brenna and I got to watch the men win their crit as well!
The final stage was a road race with a climb that we had to do four times, including a hilltop finish. The first lap was super, super slow. The entire, pack besides my teammates, refused to pull through and seemed content with rolling at 12 mph. We threw in some attacks and Holly got away with the GC leader at the start of the second lap. They easily gained three minutes in a short time simply because the peloton was moving at a crawling pace. I don’t know why no one tried to bridge when they were within reach because that was so clearly the winning break.
The second time up we hit the climb hard. A girl only 12 seconds behind Sarah in the GC was charging up. I stayed on her wheel and the pack was not too far behind. I knew I had to take the time bonuses, so I successfully dropped her on the climb and then continued to go hard afterwards. I’m guessing she experienced some junior gear problems and shortly after was absorbed by the pack.
I finished the second half of the race solo, meanwhile Holly had no problem staying with the leader and even threw in a smart attack at the end. As expected, Brenna and Sarah had to deal with a complacent pack but threw in some attacks during the last lap. Brenna set Sarah up for the finish by setting tempo on the climb to discourage people from surging early on and possibly gaining time on GC. Unfortunately, Sarah did not hold her GC position, despite a strong finish of 2nd in the bunch and 5th on the stage.
Although the traffic and late nights made travel very exhausting this weekend, especially for the islanders, it was nice to take home lots of results and prize money! A bonus surprise was the perfect weather. It rained on Saturday night and just after the men’s road race on Sunday, but completely dry during the races themselves!