Sun Shines on Tina Pic as She Takes Stage Two in Cannon Valley, Earns Yellow Jersey

By Lindsey Dickinson

Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light rider Tina Pic won the Cannon Falls Road Race, stage two of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, in a sprint finish to earn the Nature Valley GP overall yellow jersey and a spot on top of the podium. Joanne Kiesanowski of Team TIBCO took second and Cheerwine's Laura VanGilder took third in the stage.

"I was just trying to keep myself up there," said Pic of her time in the finishing circuits. "It was dicey. You really had to be in top five. Once you got back a little bit, it was that slinky effect and you had to be up there, just fighting."

Pic's fighting finish came after 55 miles among the rolling farm fields of east-central Minnesota, marred by one serious crash involving several riders, including Pic. "I chased for a long time," said Pic. "Then two of my teammates came back to help but I think they didn't know I was down and it took a long time to get a wheel change… When I got up everyone was gone, so it was just a long time chasing...I'm okay. I landed on people, poor things."

The Jelly Belly Queen of the Hill jersey went to Felicia Gomez of Aaaron's Professional Women's Cycling Team, while Joanne Kiesanowski of TIBCO took home the Wheaties Sprint jersey. Cheerwine's Catherine Cheatley earned the BOOST Best Young Rider jersey

If the prior night's rainy, cold criterium in Saint Paul was a bike racer's hell, then Thursday's Cannon Falls Road Race was a little slice of heaven for the women's peloton. In a stage that has historically been marred by adverse weather-extreme heat one year and tornadoes the next-today's race presented what can only be described as a beautiful sunny day, complete with moderate temperatures and light winds. The teams started from scratch after a controversial decision by the officials to cancel the results of the first stage due to the negative weather events. The decision negatively impacted riders and teams who fought through the weather, including Team TIBCO.

"It's water under the bridge and we're going to focus on our race and doing the best we can," said TIBCO's Brooke Miller. "We're pretty upset, because we raced really hard… We're a bunch of tough riders and we're a little disappointed they didn't think highly enough of our performance yesterday to reward us with a time.
Taking the decision in stride seemed to motivate the team. "The team raced a great race today," said Miller.

"We were really aggressive. We wanted to make it a hard race. I think all of our girls did a really good job. Coming into the finishing circuit bad luck struck, and Lauren [Franges] had a mechanical that was horrible timing…I had a rider slide out in front of me on the second to last corner and I had nowhere to go but somebody's front yard. It was great that Jo [Kiesanowski] closed and sealed the deal, but we did have higher hopes than just one rider on the podium."

In addition to her second place finish, TIBCO's Joanne Kiesanowski earned the Wheaties Sprint Jersey while Amber Rais, another TIBCO rider, took the Freewheel Most Aggressive jersey for the evening. Kristin McGrath, a Ryan Collegiate All-Stars alum and Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light rider, was awarded the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey for her efforts in the stage.

Kristin Armstrong, two-time Nature Valley Grand Prix women's champion riding for CervÈlo-Lifeforce, was noticeably absent from the podiums in Cannon Falls. "Emma [Rickards] and I are just two of us and…There are a lot of big teams out there and they had a lot of sprinters on their teams and they wanted a win at the finish today," said Armstrong. "Emma and I kind of watched, sat back and we decided we'd take a shot at it on the circuits. You never know with these sort of circuits if you can get away."

Laura VanGilder was one of the riders benefiting from having a large team present. "We performed great. There were several laps where when there weren't attacks going by the CervÈlo riders, my team took over to maintain the high speed," said Cheerwine's Van Gilder. "On the last lap, they gave me a really great lead-out. I wasn't able to capitalize on that for the finish, but podium is certainly good and we're happy with that." Van Gilder will be going for her third win in a row at the Minneapolis criterium Friday night.

For her part, Kristin Armstrong was looking forward to the Saint Paul time trial coming up Friday morning, which was altered this year to include a one kilometer climb at the end. "I'm definitely excited about it. I love all time trials-flat, hilly, rolling terrain, technical-I think when you're a time trialist, you have to like them all," said Armstrong. "I think the more challenging the better."

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