The women of Rally Cycling showed exceptional early season form and used teamwork to dominate the Chico Stage Race over the weekend. Sarah Bergen, Summer Moak, and Katherine Maine took home a hat trick of stage wins, and Bergen used her stage finishes to propel herself to second overall. Moak, riding strong all week, finished third overall and took home the Best Young Rider jersey after three days of racing. All told, the team accounted for sixteen top-tens and eight podiums in Northern California.
“The ladies did a good job of using their numbers to gain a tactical advantage on their competition,” said Team Director Zach Bell. “They applied pressure by relentlessly attacking the stages to create fatigue in the field. This helped them launch key moves that led to wins on three of the four stages. They did this without much feedback from me, which is a great sign of things to come for this young roster.”
After a near miss in both the time trial and the overall at last month’s Valley of the Sun stage race, the women of Rally Cycling were keen to start things off on the right foot in Northern California.
In the opening circuit race at the Thunderhill raceway in Willows, CA, Gillian Ellsay spent the majority of the race off the front and took the lead in the points classification. Her efforts allowed the rest of the team to conserve for the final sprint. In the run up to the line, Maine, Abby Mickey, Heidi Franz, and Sara Poidevin took control of the field and delivered Moak to the win, and Bergen in third. The result gave Moak the lead in the overall and best young rider competitions after only one day of racing. For the 18 year old, it was good to find her sprinting legs so early in the year.
“I had gotten away from sprinting the last few years, and winning stage one like I did was a huge confidence boost,” said Moak. “I switched my focus to time trialing a while back and I’m excited that my recent sprint work is already paying off. The environment on Rally Cycling is so positive and encouraging it’s hard not to find success.”
With three jersey classifications to defend going into Saturday’s road race, the team had its hands full.
Stage two featured eight miles of gravel roads over a grueling 90 mile course in the foothills of Paskenta, CA. In a near carbon copy to stage one’s success, Katherine Maine spent much of the day off the front while the team controlled things in the peloton. In the finale, it was Sara Bergen who emerged from the final gravel sector to claim victory with Moak, yellow jersey in hand, sprinting to second on the gradual climb to the finish. Heidi Franz rounded out the podium in fifth.
“K-Maine’s break in stage two was massively important as it forced our competitors to chase,” said Bergen. “Entering the gravel section on the last lap Gillian Ellsay got it going with a flyer on the gravel, Podio countered and I attacked on top of that. It was immensely satisfying to win for the team after the performance they put in.”
The final day of racing was a double-header, a ten mile time trial in the morning followed by a one hour criterium in the evening. Despite a third and fifth place finish in the time trial by Bergen and Moak, the team lost the yellow jersey. This meant that Bergen had to make up 15 seconds on Allie Dragoo (Twenty20) in the criterium to retake the lead for Rally Cycling.
“It was the most majestic crit ever,” said Bergen. “It was all hands on deck from the start. We needed everyone to shell themselves for the cause, to attack, and to be relentless in order to put Twenty20 on the back foot. We attacked in two’s and never stopped pressing. We couldn’t wrestle back the yellow jersey but the stage was a good representation of what we did right all week; race hard, aggressively and with a 100% buy in from everyone for the team goals.”
In the end, long-time domestique Katherine Maine shocked the field with a sprint win, capping off an amazing weekend for the women in orange.
Emma White and Kirsti Lay are traveling out to meet the Chico crew for training camp this week, as the team prepares for April’s Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas.
Stage 1 Results
1 Summer Moak
3 Sara Bergen
6 Katherine Maine
Stage 2 Results
1 Sara Bergen
2 Summer Moak
5 Heidi Franz
6 Sara Poidevin
Stage 3 Results
3 Sara Bergen
5 Summer Moak
7 Sara Poidevin
Stage 4 Results
1 Katherine maine
10 Sara Bergen
General Classification Results
2 Sara Bergen
3 Summer Moak
7 Sara Poidevin
9 Heidi Franz