No blues in St. Louis so far for Team TIBCO: Miller takes wins in first two Women's ToMO races.
St. Louis, MO - Team TIBCO sent four riders to St. Louis for this weekend's Women's Tour of Missouri Series, part of the Gateway Cup. Despite being outnumbered by the likes of Colavita/Sutter Home and Team Type 1, those four women seem to be riding like eight, having now delivered Brooke Miller to wins in the first two races of the series.
Saturday, on a wide open, 1.3 mile St. Louis Hills circuit, Miller took advantage of a sneak attack leadout from teammate Katharine Carroll, who took Miller to the last turn and let the sprinter finish the job.
"We wanted to be the aggressors again today," said Miller. "We launched a lot of attacks but nothing was getting away. About half-way through the race we decided to change tactics and race a bit more defensively. We thought Colavita might attack more since they had the numbers, but they weren't going on the attack.
Instead, with two laps to go, Colavita set up their train on the front.
"I thought it might have been a bit early, given how long the laps were, so we just sat in," Miller said. "On the final lap, Tina Pic was leading out Kelly Benjamin. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) was on Kelly's wheel, and I was on Laura's, with Kat behind me.
"Coming out of the second to last corner, Kat put in a surprise attack. I jumped on her wheel coming past and she took me to the last corner."
Miller then used her signature sprint to finish things off.
"Kat pulled off a clutch move at the end to get Brooke to the last corner," said Alison Starnes of Team TIBCO. "We're really racing well together given the numbers."
The strong team effort began Friday at the Tour of Lafayette, the first race in the ToMO Series. Team TIBCO was similarly aggressive, a racing style they've become known for this season.
"Friday, we attacked a bunch and Colavita had to do a lot of chasing," Miller said. "One attack would get caught and we'd launch another one. With just four of us, we have to make sure we get in as many moves as possible so we don't have to burn energy chasing."
With four laps to go, Rushlee Buchanan, Starnes, Carroll and Miller took over the front of the race and controlled things until just under one lap to go when Colavita lined it up and took over. From there, Miller did a bit of freelancing and keyed off of Colavita's leadout to take the win, while Carroll rolled in for a solid 6th place.
"The first two days have really been fun," Miller said. "We're all really racing on the same page. I was a bit worried because Rush and Ali haven't raced with Kat and I too much this year. But they've stepped right in and done the job."
Miller said she's been particularly impressed with Starnes riding this weekend, noting her increased comfort riding crits, as well as her ability to read races. It's just more evidence of Starnes' increasing development during the 2009 year, just her second racing a bike.
Starnes credits not just the practice of racing more, but also the mentoring of riders like Miller and Carroll this year.
"I was a bit nervous yesterday before the race because I hadn't done a big crit in a while," Starnes said. "But Brooke and Kat and the other riders have helped a lot throughout the year. It's a big process, and they've shown a lot of patience and have been teaching me a lot. We talk after races and now I don't have to think as much during races. I can react more. I know I have the strength and power to be there and to do what I need to do when they tell me."
She also credits her time with the U.S. National Team in Europe with helping her development. "In Europe, the pelotons are much bigger and the pace is really fast, so I'm more comfortable riding in large packs. But the racing there is different than it is here. There aren't too many crits in Europe. The pace is different. I was worried a bit about my speed coming here, but I feel great."
She also knows that, since she's coming back to Team TIBCO for 2010, she'll be racing with Miller even more next year. "We have a great sprinter in Brooke, and I want to be able to help her next year."
By all appearances, Starnes has already gotten a head start on 2010.