After I read Gina Grain's race report of her victory in stage 2 of the Tour of the Gila I knew I wanted to share it here. Official news race summaries rarely give you real insight into the tactics of a stage or the viewpoint of the racers within (especially not for a women's race), so a race report like this is a treat. So, here you go: team tactics, GC fights, and a Kristen Armstrong leadout, all leading to a stage win.
Gina Grain's Report, used with permission
The day started out with a nice 5-mile, leg-opener climb....well, leg opener for some, and locker of pain for others. Not too much happened on the climb until near the top when yours truly, Webcor, was firmly represented in the straw that broke the camels back break. Super-leader Kathryn [Curi Mattis] and Alex [Rhodes] were amongst the 15 women whose legs and/or lungs didn't implode.
And so it was. A chase group of about 20 or so, including Nikki [Butterfield], Amy [Dombroski] and myself, worked the descent and got within 200m of the lead group when the next little hill came, which wasn't so little, so we lost them to about a minute and 30 sec by after the rippin' technical descent. Somewhere in between the 2 descents we saw a struggling soldier up ahead: Rebecca [Much]'s astounding climbing efforts yesterday on the final 7-mile climb battling with one of the best climbers in the world caught up to her a bit today, and so she got stuck between the two groups and waited for ours.
The caveat in the whole chase group was the 3rd-place rider on GC was with us, meaning that the 2 other major-player teams in the chase group, Colavita and Value Act, didn't want to catch the lead group, because that would put their team GC riders higher on team GC and onto a podium position. So, yep, you got it, Webcor and a few other random
riders at times were the ones to chase. Stellar efforts from everybody, we caught the lead group and the game was on -- or the bar was open for business, as Dave asked in the radio at about 10 miles to go! "Gina is the bar open for business...i.e. ready to sprint.?" I
said, "the bar is open and has an open tab." Others said it was happy hour and ladies night. You see race radios are helpful!
Well, before this happened, a Value Act girl, Nicole Evans, managed to get away after Webcor was aggressive with attacks. She got around 2 min 50 sec at one point. But, was this enough to stop Webcor from a sprint finish and possible stage win? NO. Webcor again got on the front, this time with help from Colavita and Kristen Armstrong to
chase her back. We caught her at about 1 mile to go -- I say we, well I was actually in the pack saving the sprinting trunks. So, by the time Webcor caught Nicole, their trunks were done in and needed watering. Kristen Armstrong came up to me and said that she was going to help us in the lead out!!! I said, ok, you know how this goes: it is a strong cross headwind, just gutter it and I will be there. Sure enough, going into the right hand turn at 1 mile to go, Kristen was there, Webcor was up there manning near the front, and I jumped on Kristen's wheel. She went into TT mode, and, in the cross winds,
anybody who wasn't in the top 5 were going to suffer!! Me, I tucked in behind her and launched my sprint at about 200m to go on a slightly uphill grade. It was a bit early but the time was then. I kicked it really hard and made a pretty good gap coming across the finish line with time to think about the victory salute!!! (note: I forgot to zip up my jersey).