Despite tornadoes and torrential rain in the DC area, the women's field got lucky. We somehow had one full hour of clear skies at Carl Dolan.
About 30 women lined up in the Open Women’s race. Clearly missing from the field was most of the enormous HPC squad which meant the CycleLife team was the biggest team out there with seven riders. The only other team with significant numbers was ADG-Joe’s. Otherwise, our competition was mostly super strong individuals.
Even though the course doesn’t lend itself to breakaways, you can’t exactly ride around in a circle for 25 miles and do nothing when you’re the strongest team in the peloton. So the CycleLife ladies spent the race attacking and covering moves – generally trying to soften things up for the sprint. A few of the moves actually looked like they might stick, but nothing doing when there are so many strong riders out there this year - seriously, what's up with that? The women's field is full of hammers this year!
After catching Heidi Goldberg (Kenda) who had bravely soloed off the front late in the race, the team worked to keep the pace high on the last lap. Wendy drove it into the corner while Jenny and a few of the strong individual riders like Susanna Matsen (LSV) kept things strung out coming into the sprint.
Michelle "The Tornado" Hart knows her sprint well, and despite being cautioned that the winner would likely start her sprint inside the 200 meter mark, she came around Jenny with 300 meters to go. Fortunately Michelle can sprint forever! She won accelerating all the way to the finish! I managed to hang onto her wheel for second place. It felt like we had a huge gap on the field, but we’ll have to check out the race photos (coming soon!) to know for sure.
Our cat 3 ladies managed some impressive results too with Sara (4th), Melanie (6th) and Robin (10th) despite working their arses off all day to help us get the overall win.
So, the only tornado at Carl Dolan (at least during the women's race) was the CycleLife team. The guys immediately after us weren't so lucky as the skies opened up just as their race began.