Minnneapolis, MN - In front of a huge Friday evening crowd in Minneapolis, Team TIBCO delivered national criterium champion Brooke Miller to a textbook sprint win in Stage 4 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.
"It was a picture perfect race for the team," Miller said. "Everyone raced great tonight. We all did our jobs perfectly."
In the first half of the 48-minute Uptown Minneapolis Criterium, that took the form of sitting back and covering pretty much every move that tried to get away off the front. "We were like bees," Miller said. "We swarmed on everything."
But when the second half of the race came around, the tactics changed, and Team TIBCO turned the aggressor. "Everyone got in on the act," said Team TIBCO directeur sportif Jeff Corbett.
Emma Rickards put in one strong attack that drew out a couple other riders. When that move was about to be caught, Lauren Tamayo countered with a huge effort and got off the front solo, and stayed out there for almost five laps. At one point she held a gap of 15 seconds.
"That forced the rest of the field to put in a hard chase and took some of the pressure off of us for a bit," Corbett said.
A couple laps after Tamayo was caught, Katharine Carroll's put in a big attack with only about four laps to go. Her move was critical to setting up the win, Meredith Miller noted.
"We knew Colavita would set up their lead-out for Tina (Pic)," she said. "Kat's move created a bit of chaos. We knew it would throw them off and force them to burn some matches bringing her back. It allowed us to get our lead-out set up."
With two laps to go, Amber Rais came around the Colavita lead out. A half lap later, Meredith Miller came around. On the final lap, Joanne Kiesanowski put in a huge turn at the front and left it for Tamayo to take Brooke Miller to the last corner.
"I had found Lauren's wheel with about five laps to go," Brooke Miller said. "She was determined to be my last lead-out tonight. A couple times I had to fight to keep her wheel."
About the only thing that didn't go quite according to plan was Brooke Miller starting her sprint a bit earlier than she wanted.
"I was supposed to go from the last corner," she said, "but I misread Lauren's body language and actually went before the corner."
It didn't matter. "When I have a lead-out like that, I don't have to have good legs to win," Brooke Miller said. "But I did have good legs, and I was able to hold my sprint to the line.
"Today's crit was a lot more controlled than the first day's," Brooke Miller added. "That first day it was really chaotic. Everyone had fresh legs. Today we really controlled the race from the start. We had a heavy presence on the front the whole race, and we were able to dictate a lot of what happened today, whether it was attacking or covering moves."
Both Millers agreed it was a perfect day.
"The last couple of days we had a bit of bad luck," Meredith Miller said. "Today, we were all on the same page. It was good to go out and execute a race plan perfectly and pull off the win."
Team TIBCO will get its next opportunity to take control of the race Saturday with the often decisive Mankato Road Race, the stage notorious for its crosswinds and rolling terrain.
Photo (c) Jonathan Devich/Epic Images