The small technical four corner criterium course had a small hill (2-3% rise on the backstretch opposite the start finish). The starting line had 36 women from the strong Nor Cal region on the day. Some big guns were racing with Robin at Tour de Nez, but Nor Cal has plenty of big guns to go around, so Laurel had her work cut out for her. With several pure sprinters in the field, she knew that an all-out field sprint was not going to work for her. Most of the first 15 minutes of the race, Laurel was near the front assisting in the string out which thinned the field to about 20 riders. Then they bunched back up, and folks just started taking flyers. Kate from Australia, who was wearing the Cycles Fanatics kit for the day, was easily one of the strongest riders in the field. Metromint was working to get away. Red Racers (Kate Ligler and Kim Sperling) were helping Laurel reel things back in.
About two thirds through the race, nothing had gotten away, but Laurel appeared to be feeling good, and she was able to move forward with any acceleration that occurred. With 3 laps to go a huge acceleration happened at the front, and Laurel moved up readily… on the hill. With 2 laps to go... She just stayed put... about mid pack (which by this point was about 10 riders back).
With one lap to go, she moved with the acceleration into turn 1, and came through about 8th wheel, then moved all the way forward between turn 1 and turn 2. Coming through turn 2, about 5th wheel, then once the field made the third turn, she jumped hard, out to the right, and BAM, by the time the field hit turn 3, she was coming through AT THE FRONT, ON THE FRONT. She took her own line through turn 4, her own awesome line, which she loves to do on her Cornering Cannon Leopard Cycles bike! She just accelerated as hard as she could; leading out the entire field of what was about 20 riders by this time. The second place rider’s front wheel was about at her pedal when Laurel crossed the line. Marissa Axel of Touchstone Climbing was 2nd, and Vanessa Drigo of Vanderkitten was 3rd. I guess Laurel likes to take ‘em long.
- Anita Sandwina (Training partner)