Going into this crit, I held vague hopes of winning the green sprinter’s jersey but didn’t even consider that it might be possible to win the race; I’m a time-trialist, not a crit rider! I made the race hard from the start, trying to string out the field and learn the course. The group of A/B women felt a little sketchy at times, braking too much on the downhills and taking “interesting” lines through the corners. At the first prime lap, I moved up to the front and gave the current green jersey holder Rose a perfect leadout. Brilliant move, now the gap between my sprint points and hers was up to 10 points. She is a smart, tactical rider, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to make up for that, so I sat back for a while, making occasional half-hearted surges and saving energy on the rest of the primes.
With four laps to go, I felt disheartened; this race would amount to a mass sprint, and I would end up mid-pack at best. I decided to try another attack, just so I wouldn’t feel bad about myself for not trying everything I could to prevent that mass sprint. I came around the corner that turned onto the extended mild hill toward the finishing stretch around 6th wheel. Then, I up-shifted and moved far to the right-hand side of the road, riding pretty hard out of the saddle. Someone yelled to chase, but I was quite far away from the field laterally. Surprise, separation, speed, not attacking off the front – it worked! I looked back and was shocked to see no one there. I thought, “*expletive*, now I have to go really hard!!”, and I did. 3 laps to go, I rode across the line with a growing gap. Not having to worry about other riders, I could take the corners and downhills with my ideal lines. I wish I had heart rate data for those laps, because it would have probably been terrifying. ½ lap to go, and a strong Pitt rider Hayley Wickstrom flew past me. I thought, “Well, 2nd place in a crit is great for me!” and pushed hard enough to catch back on to her wheel. Around 100 meters to the finish line, I thought, “Actually, maybe I can sprint by her” and did. My first mass-start win since I raced Intro in 2010!