The indomitable Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) won the sprint of the 40 miles NRC Visalia Criterium ahead of the Tibco duo of Brooke Miller and Lauren Franges who all avoided the crashes in the last lap including in the last corner.

Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road) wins the spring ahead of Tibco's Brooke Miller and Lauren Franges

"I had a good position at the end and my team helped me out to get me there. I had the better position to Brooke coming out of her draft and get around with a bit more speed." said Teutenberg.

"On the backside, Lauren jumped early which was exactly what we wanted to to, we wanted her to go for a full sprint on the corner with me on the wheel so she set me up absolutely perfectly. Unfortunately I also gave great leadout to Ina, but my team did such a great job of leading me out, I was really very excited about it." said Miller about the last lap.

The pro women gathered on Sunday for the second day of the Sequoia Cycling Classic to tackle the flat and fast Visalia Criterium.

Before the race started, a moment of silence was held in memory of Kristy Gough of the Third Pillar Cycling Team, who was set to compete in the event. Along with Matt Petersen from Roaring Mouse Cycles, Kristy was killed during a training ride on March 9, 2008. We honor their lives with a celebration of the beauty and joy of cycling.

The sprinters come out to race hard and fast. Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder, Tibco's Miller, High Road's Teutenberg, Aaron's Anna Lang and Kat Carroll, Value Act and Proman riders were chomping at the bit to get the show on the road. Young Emilia Fahlin (High Road) winner of the Merco Road Race and Crit had to sit these races out as she crashed during her training and had to get a few staples in her head.

The nod goes to Cheerwine's Kelly Benjamin in the best move in the startline for the weekend. With the music blasting, she gave us full dance moves.

Just like the men's race, the pace was furious from the beginning, with breakaways trying to form, and all were neutralized very fast. High Road launching attacks after attacks on the 0.7-mile, 6-turn course to try and soften up the field

"We tried to get into breakaways but the race was so fast it was hard to make that happen. When you have to ride that fast, it's pretty impossible. With 20 laps to go, we decided we were going to wait it out for the sprint." said Teutenberg.

"Everybody was pretty keen in keeping it together for a sprint, the homestretch was pretty hard with the headwind so being out there by yourself wouldn't have been quite ideal either, you needed the right mix, and the right mix never seemed to go " said Franges.

(l-r) Value Act rider attacking; Flavia Oliveira (Vanderkitter) chasing after crash; Kim Anderson (High Road) leading the field

With 10 laps to go, the field was all together getting ready for the final sprint, with some teams taking last minute flyers, such as Cheerwine's Marisa Asplund-Owens who crashed but got right back in the race after stopping in the pit.

The Tibco, Cheerwine and High Road teams massed up at the front of the field with 5 laps to go.

"It was pretty sketchy the last 3 of 4 laps. There were a lot of girls who wanted to sprint, it probably wasn't fast enough, I don't think any teams, we only were pretty much 4 people here, so it's hard to do a long fast leadout which makes the race faster so... I mean Tibco and us tried a little bit, it was okay but it was pretty sketchy. " said Teutenberg.

"We really go up there with about 4 or 5 (laps) to go, and Helen (Kelly) , Amber (Rais) and Lauren all got up there, I was sitting on Lauren, she was going to be our last leadout rider because she's just got such a big sprint. And so I was sitting there following her wheel around, Cheerwine was getting up there, High Road was pushing the pace a bit. For a while, Amber was up front, Helen, Lauren and I kind of got stuck in the back, got jostled a little bit for position, but coming into the last lap, I was able to come to the front and Lauren came around me, set it up really great." explained Miller.

Coming into the last corner, Franges was leading out Miller who had Teutenberg on her wheel. Behind them, a crash. The sprint was on, with Teutenberg taking the victory.

"Third wheel (coming into the corner), I was behind Brooke, I was in perfect position coming into the corner." smiled Teutenberg.

Unfortunately, crashes occurred during the race which took out some riders.

"The course isn't technical, a lot of the time the safer the course, the more dangerous the race, because people kind of get a little sense of security that they could take lines faster, we were taking those corners, four or five abreast so you get somebody taking a little bobble and you get a chain reaction. It's a big field, there's a lot of money on the line, and people are racing aggressively, and taking corners aggressively and sometimes you hit the deck." explained Miller about the crashes.

Proof that the women are tougher than the men, as the three women on the podium were the only ones to lift the boxes of oranges - none of the men even attempted this maneuver.

Women's Podium (l-r): Lauren Franges (Tibco), Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (High Road), Brooke Miller (Tibco)

Next up, for the NRC Calendar is the Redlands Classic in two weeks for most of the women, but some are traveling to Europe to race in the upcoming World Cups.

"I'm going to Flanders, I did the cobbles, it was my first race in Europe last year, I loved it, I hit the deck in the final sprint so I'm really eager to go back. The harder the race, the better I love it. That grueling nature of the cobbles takes a toll on everyone, Flanders was my favorite course in Europe." said Miller.

A very happy Anke Wichmann (High Road) won the 99 Series Overall Classifications with her teammate Mara Abbott coming into second place

99 Series Podium (l-r): Anke Wichmann and Mara Abbott, both High Road


Women's Crit Top 10
  1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Team High Road)
  2. Brooke Miller (Team TIBCO)
  3. Lauren Franges (Team TIBCO)
  4. Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine Cycling)
  5. Meredith Miller (Aaron's Pro Women's Cycling Team)
  6. Nichole Wangsgard (Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light)
  7. Megan Guarnier (PROMAN Racing)
  8. Anna Lang (Aaron's Pro Women's Cycling Team)
  9. Janel Holcomb (Webcor Builders)
  10. Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine Cycling)
Full Results here.

All photos c. Lyne Lamoureux