Amanda Miller attacks the steep, cobbled Snake Alley climb en route to victory. (Photo: Michael Alexander)
Pescadero, CA - Team TIBCO riders took advantage of the three-day weekend to take on races across the country, netting three wins and three additional podium spots in the process. Amanda Miller got things rolling Saturday with the difficult Snake Alley Criterium in her hometown of Burlington, IA, made more difficult by temperatures in the upper 80s with high humidity.
Racing on roads she grew up training on, Miller took an impressive solo win, riding on her own from the latter part of lap one until the finish.
"I actually couldn't find my pedal at the start so I had to make up some ground at first," she said. "But by the time I got up the Snake the first time I was at the front."
She was also on her own, being chased the entire time by Lisa Vetterlein (Punk Rock Cycling). "She kept me at a constant 14 to 18 second gap, so I had to keep going," Miller said. "I was pretty cooked by the end."
But the win made relaxing with her family the rest of the weekend all the more relaxing.
Guarnier, Starnes provide the horsepower in NorCal.
Megan Guranier won the imposing Mt. Hamilton Road Race on Sunday, winning a two-up sprint ahead of Kathryn Donovan (Now-MS). Teammate Alison Starnes finished 3rd ahead of Shelly Evans (Peanut Butter & Co.).
"I guess I found my climbing legs," Guarnier commented. With the race climbing nearly 4,000 feet to the top of Hamilton in its first 20 miles, she needed to find them fast.
"The bunch was pretty much together through the first part of the climb," Guarnier said, "but after we descended into the valley and hit the second part, Ali attacked with Kathryn and Shelley."
The trio got a small gap, and when another rider went to bridge up to the leaders, Guarnier grabbed her wheel.
"The five of us rode a fast tempo up toward the top," she said. The pace and the climb began to take its toll. With 6 km to go to the top, Evans fell off the pace. Two kilometers later, Guarnier came off. Starnes and Donovan continued on, but 2 km later, Starnes also fell off the pace.
Guarnier kept a steady pace to the top in order to limit her losses. "I wasn't looking to make up time on the descent because I'd never done it before but I heard it was pretty technical," she said. "I was actually pretty cautious."
Apparently, so were Starnes and Donovan, both of whom she caught and passed on the descent. When she reached the bottom, Guarnier was solo off the front. "I didn't want to ride the last 40 miles solo," she said. "So I rode a steady tempo for a couple kilometers and Donovan caught up to me."
The stronger climber, Donovan set the pace on the uphill portions of the hilly course through the San Antonio Valley onto Mines Road, which played host to the Tour of California little more than a week ago.
"I just sat on and tried to stay with her on the climbs," Guarnier said. "I was cross-eyed hanging on her wheel." When the road tipped downward, it was Guarnier setting the pace, while the duo took equal pulls of the few flat sections. On the final descent, Guarnier dropped Donovan but she caught back up on the following flat section.
With a kilometer to go, Donovan attacked, "but I was on her immediately," Guarnier said. The duo played a bit of cat and mouse, but with 200 meters to go, Guarnier stopped playing and hit it.
"I went straight to the left hand side of the road and hit it hard into the uphill finish," she said. "I really surprised myself with my jump."
While Guarnier was taking the win, behind her, Starnes was in a battle with Evans for the final step on the podium. Evans had also passed Starnes on the descent, but Starnes caught her and was able to sit on while Evans chased the lead duo. Eventually, Evans popped again and Starnes was able to go solo to the finish for 3rd place. Team TIBCO's Devon Haskell also rode a fine race, finding her way through the shattered field to earn 5th place.
Starnes and Guarnier followed up their efforts in the road race with strong performances in the Memorial Day Criterium in Morgan Hill today. Starnes attacked on the second lap of the race and was marked by former teammate Kat Carroll (Peanut Butter & Co) and two other riders who eventually fell off the front group.
"There was no really well organized chase from the peloton," Guarnier said. "The gap got as low as eight seconds but the chase ran out of gas and the gap went out again. Team TIBCO was on every move to make sure no one bridged up the Ali and Kat without one of us on them."
Knowing that her chances to win in a sprint against Carroll weren't good, Starnes attacked with one lap to go, but Carroll kept Starnes from the solo win, eventually winning the two-up sprint.
Behind them, it was Guarnier's turn to battle for third with Evans, a multiple track national champion. "I was going to jump coming out of the last corner," Guarnier explained. "Devon gave me a great lead-out, but Shelly jumped just before the last corner and got a gap. It was a drag race. We were pedal stroke for pedal stroke for a while then I started gaining on her but she got too good of a jump on me to overtake her. It was a good race by both Team TIBCO and Peanut Butter & Company."
Kiesanowski takes her first win in new home town of Seattle
Joanne Kiesanowski got settled quickly into her new home cycling community of Seattle, taking the Fremont Criterium there Sunday. She was active throughout the fast, flat race, putting in numerous attacks.
When it became apparent the race would come down to a sprint, "I knew I wanted to be on the front going into the final two corners," she said. She positioned herself perfectly on the final lap and won the sprint to the line.
Somer-time for Brooke Miller
Though still feeling the effects of the Tour de l'Aude, including a respiratory bug that also affected all her l'Aude teammates - including Amanda Miller - Brooke Miller still managed to earn 3rd place at the Tour of Somerville Sunday. With teammates Kristen LaSasso and Samantha Schneider to help, the TIBCO trio did battle all race with several teams fielding full squads..
"Sam and Kristen did a fantastic job covering moves and allowing me to save as much energy as possible for the sprint," Miller said.
Teresa Clif-Ryan (Colavita-Baci) got the win.
Team TIBCO II takes the win at Memorial Day Crit.
The Cat. 4 women of Team TIBCO II also had a great day in Morgan Hill on Sunday. Bobbi Jo Price took the win off an impressive lead-out by teammates Vanessa Cairns and Shari Countryman.
According to Price, Team TIBCO II was aggressive throughout the race, putting in repeated attacks, and then setting up Price with "a lead-out that all the other sprinters were drooling over."