|I have to say, criteriums aren't my strong suit. Give me 140kms and an uphill finish and I stand a chance. Put me in the middle of an NRC crit where everyone is fresh and peaking and WHAM! What hit me??? I went to the CapTech classic because the web site boasted 100 feet of climbing per lap. I thought that the grade might give someone of my build a slight advantage.|
Nobody told me that 80% of the climbing was right after a screaming downhill so momentum and not power would get you up the other side. At 115 lbs, downhill momentum isn't exactly my strong suit either. Still, I might have stayed in a bit longer if I hadn't totally botched the start.
In a criterium, staging and starts are absolutely the number one most important thing. You have to be on the front, and you can't miss-clip or else you're on the back and have to use all your energy to move up. The pace near the front is fast and smooth, but at the back the sudden accelerations can whip you off the pack faster than you can say "Mommy!"
So, I staged with a bunch of women near the last turn, and sprinted up to the line when they called us only to wind up 3rd row. I picked a Snow Valley rider to get behind thinking it was Kristy Scheffenacker, who is a very good criterium rider. Nope! It was someone else, and she couldn't clip in to save her life. All the time I spent practicing a fast start was useless and I had to sprint around to get onto the back of the pack. Then I got squeezed when the median narrowed as I was moving up on the right and all the work I put into trying to move up was ruined. I was on the back behind the ever increasing braking in every turn, having to sprint out of each turn and hammer up the hill to try and hold on.
After 3 laps, BOING! Off the back. I kept hammering, hoping I'd be able to catch back on if
the pack eased a bit, and still had the pack in sight when the bicycle medics pulled out between the pack and me as I came screaming into turn 4 at 35mph. Did they want something to do or what? I had to brake and my dreams of finishing the race were over. I guess I shouldn't feel that bad, since 50% of the field got pulled.
It was pretty cool to watch Lynn Gaggioli beat Ina Teutenberg in the sprint. Sure, Ina just came back from a stage race and probably had some jet lag, but you can't take any credit away from Lynn. Anyone else would have sat on Ina and tried to attack her a few times only to get beat. Lynn kept the pressure on by just hammering up the hill every single lap they were away, making Ina work really hard just to stay with her. In the end, she led the sprint out from the last turn and Ina couldn't come around. The announcer asked Lynn how much agony she was in during the last 200 meters, and she replied "When Ina didn't come around me, there was no pain." She must have been on cloud nine.
So. Sunday I race in Philadelphia. It's the biggest one-day women's race in America. I am anxious to say the least! It's gonna be fast. It's gonna be hard. It's gonna hurt a lot. But it sure will be an experience. How many of the guys on your club will ever get a chance to race up the Manayunk wall against the best racers in the world? In a perfect world, someone of my caliber shouldn't be in the race at all because there would be so many talented women racers that it would be invitation only like the men's race. But someone has to be pack fodder, and scanning the 130 names on the start sheet it looks like only about 20 people stand a chance of winning the race so I'm not alone.
My prediction? Petra Rossner is going to be a marked woman and might have a hard time getting away, but her teammate Judith Arndt could win from a breakaway.
You can read more about Laura Weislo at her website.