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“It’s a fucking bike race so we’re bringing it” – Heidi Franz reports from VOS

"...it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it."   - photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

“…it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it.” – photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

 

Recovery Starts Immediately - so EAT UP!  -photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

Recovery Starts Immediately – so EAT UP!
-photo courtesy Jonathan Devich (@photogjono)

Bike Racing is Hard....

Bike Racing is Hard….

Tête de la Course athlete Heidi Franz opened her 2018 race account in Arizona this past weekend at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Here is her race report:

 

Valley of the Sun 2018 Race Report

For the first time, I wasn’t starting my road season with a of couple relaxed Collegiate road weekends with friends, or the classic Tour De Dung road races out in Sequim, WA. In the words of Rally Sport Director Zach Bell, we were now “100% Pro”, through and through, and that’s just how this season would start.


Sara Bergen, Gillian Ellsay, Summer Moak and I were sent to The Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Three of us had never done it before, just as three of us had never raced together as teammates. The purpose was to set a precedent for the rest of the season in terms of communication, coming up with a plan, and sticking to it. Using the weekend to get our race legs back on and get back into the road mindset allowed us to ease into the season with low pressure. But of course, when we line up at the start to race, it’s a fucking bike race, so we’re bringing it.

Stage one is a time trial, basically a flat 14 mile out-and-back. We set warm-up camp in our sweet VIP parking near some desert brush and Porta-Johns, and began the day. Gillian would go off first, Sara second, myself third, and Summer fourth. As the Phoenix/Scottsdale resident, Summer knew this race well. There was little wind to speak of, so it made for a less than complicated effort.


There were reports of Sara Bergen rocket-shipping herself around the course, absolutely steamrolling the competition and landing securely in 2nd, 13 seconds behind Leah Thomas. I…went a little slower, but that’s fine. Always critical at first, I had to remember that it was my third TT ever on an actual TT bike. So, I was content . Summer put down an absolutely amazing personal best time, putting her in 5th. Gillian put out a super strong showing in 10th. With me in 13th, the whole team was starting in the top 15 in GC. We could start to scheme our cards for the road race the next day.

Tibco missed out on the top 6 in the TT, so we expected a fireworks show from them to get something up the road. What we didn’t really expect (or count) was that 10 women would all go on the attack from that team. 10!!! We had planned for Gillian and I to cover moves early on that could be dangerous, but that meant following anything that had UHC and Tibco in it. Needless to say, we were busy! No breaks were sticking, and the pace was incredibly high. With one men’s field passing us left and right (literally) and our peloton catching some straggling men on the last lap, the finish was decided in a decent manner of chaos. We were setting up for a bunch sprint, and Sara and Summer were to follow wheels and help each other position in the last km. If Gillian and I had anything left, we would try to help. Little did we know, those weren’t just dudes up the road, but a break from our peloton. Lauren Hall ended up taking the win for UHC and Allison Jackson in 2nd for Tibco. Far enough down on GC, they didn’t change the top 15 very much. Sara was still solidly in 2nd. So, how to make up 13 seconds in a criterium….? Hmmm.

Spitting fire and getting Sara in a break was the goal for the crit. If not, set up Summer for the bunch sprint. The course was fast, 8 corners. Being the first crit of the season, I was pretty nervous, but just focusing on the plan would keep me from overthinking anything. The first half was great. We were riding safe, always towards the front and choosing our responses carefully, letting Tibco flyers go up the road if they wanted just to come back a couple laps later. We learned to save our matches for the really dangerous moves. Unfortunately, a serious crash 15 minutes in with a young 2020 rider neutralized the race for about 15 minutes. Starting us with 25 minutes to go, there was little time to get going. Each of us tried to move up and reshuffle the field with attacks and get Sara in position to take off. However, she was too marked to get away. Suddenly 4 then 2 laps to go, it was a rush to move Summer as far up as we could. Sara was in a decent spot and there was little more Gillian and I could do with such little time.
Stopping the clock at 35 minutes… Kendall Ryan took the win for Tibco in the sprint.

Overall, we came away feeling good. We raced well as a team for the first time, communicated well and knew when and where we needed it better. We raced hard and held our own, being a small squad of four against the powers-in-numbers. With a 2nd, top 15 for everyone, and Best Young Rider, we are happy and ready to do it again.

All our best goes to Zoe Ta-Perez’s recovery! Glad to hear she will be okay.

 

Thanks for reading!

 

– Heidi