VK Still Leads USA Crit Series After San Francisco Twilight Crit!!
Vanderkitten raced a tough race at San Francisco's Twilight Criterium on August 13th. Below is pre race and race recap from VK's Liz Hatch:
After a year of traveling to every major race cross-country by plane or long distance drive I was really looking forward to the San Francisco Twilight as it's basically in my backyard. We rented a really cool apt in The Castro and had 6 of us share the space for the weekend. I've grown to love racing this year not just for the actual competition but for the time I get to spend with my teammates. For the majority of the past 5 months it's been the 4 core members, which include Leigh, Jen W., Melissa and myself, so it was especially nice to have Jenny Trew back with us along with a special guest, Jen Reither. Yes, half our team had some variance of the name Jennifer!
The night before the race we went to the Galaxy Club to pick up our race packets and number and have a beer, after which we went to a team dinner with Mark and Robin Zellner who has been guest directing for us to share a meal and some pre-race plans. Jen Wilson has been battling it out with Kelly Benjamin all year for the overall in the USA Crit Series and we as a team have had a narrow lead over Cheerwine for the top team in the standings so we were all feeling the pressure of the race . Kelly has had a banner year and for that reason we knew it would be a tough road but not unthinkable. Jen is one of the toughest women I've ever met on a bike and if anyone could win the overall for our small team it would be her.
Race day came and proved to be quite chilly and windy as we woke early to put on a free clinic for women in the Bay Area looking to improve their bike skills and even a bit of mechanical training. A nice group showed up and we got to spend a couple of hours with them talking about A to Z bike stuff. A big thanks to Dan Horndasch for coming out and running the show as far as the bike maintenance went, he answered everyone's questions with patience and precise direction.
After a few hours of lounging around our condo we packed up and headed down to Union St. to the Pro Village. I have to stop here and give a huge round of applause to Ryan Dawkins and Webcore as well as the city of San Fran for allowing pro cycling to come back to the streets of San Fran. It's a huge shame that the SF Grand Prix is no more but this is a step back in the right direction. The whole affair was a joy to be present at and to race made it all the better. Thanks guys!!
We warmed up and got our pre race instructions followed by our callups. I think every member of Vanderkitten received a call up as we are all ranked in the USA Crits top 10 except for myself but since I'm a local I guess that was their excuse. I always feel a little awkward going wheel to wheel with girls like Kelly Benjamin, Laura Van Gilder, Kat Carroll or Christine Thorburn. I'm such a newbie but I hope to emulate their success on the bike at some point.
The race started out fast with me leading the first lap semi on accident. I've grown used to starting in the back out of personal preference but as I was at the line I decided to go out and dictate the pace for the first lap or two. From the gun it was fast and furious with a strong break getting away after about 5 or 6 laps which included all the heavies except on of us! NO GOOD!! Robin was sounding pretty stressed in our earpieces, of course. We worked hard the whole race to put things right and pull it back but for some reason we just weren't firing the way we normally do. It's been along year and the 4 of us have race so hard and perhaps we were a bit tired however there was no option to call time out of give up which none of us ever do anyway.
Kat Carroll put in an amazing solo attack hoping to repeat her win at Charlotte earlier this year but was pulled back with 5 or so to go and eventually the whole field, drastically reduced from the start, came back together. Next Meredith Miller made one last MONSTER attack which just shredded the field and made the final selection from which Shelly Olds would go on to win and Laura Van Gilder would take 2nd and Kelly Benjamin 3rd. Jen ended up 10th and the rest of somewhere behind. Personally the race was not my best, I could not seem to get the legs going until about 45 mins which was way too late. A shame too as the course had a nice rise on the back side which normally would suit me well. You win some you lose some, eh??
In the end Jen is in a solid second place overall behind Kelly and we sit as a team on the top over Cheerwine. Not bad for a ragtag first year team! And I say ragtag in the most loving and prideful way possible. We've bonded through good and bad this year and have really fought for our place in the top teams without having all the benefits of a bigger team. I'm really grateful to Mark and Dave for understanding what we are trying to accomplish here and supporting us. Next year will only be bigger and better!
Now it's time for Vegas and our last race so see you there! Lizzer