Heather in Eagle, ID – We started with 27 women. Kristin Armstrong (Lipton), Laura Van Guilder, Kelly Benjamin, and Brooke Ourade (all from Cheerwine), Melissa Sanborn (Wenzel Coaching), and several teams with two to three riders each. The course was a nice four left hand turn 1 km course. It was about 250 m from the last turn to the finish line. I started in the back and stayed in the back the first part of the race to see what would happen.
My goal was to win the race. I knew the only way I could do that was from a break. I also knew the only way a break would stick was to go at the halfway point of the race, when some of the riders would be tired. This race is part of the US Criterium Series so there was a midpoint sprint for points. The race started out fairly easy. The first prime Kris Walker (Bob's Bicycles) attacked on the backside of the course; three women jumped on her wheel, but Kris held it to the line to win. They were quickly reabsorbed. Then Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) took a solo flyer and was off for a few laps. Right after she was caught Brooke Ourada (Cheerwine) and Tiffany Pezzulo (Ivory Homes) were off for several laps. We brought them back a few laps before the lap 25 sprint.
I knew a break would probably get off after the sprint, so I set up to follow wheels and make the selection. Sure enough, the speed picked up as we headed toward the finish line. After the sprint, a group of six of us got off: Kristin Armstrong (Lipton), Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine), Kristin Kotval (Ivory Homes), Melissa Sanborn (Wenzel Coaching), Jenn Halladay (Team Tamarack Resort), and I (America's Dairyland). We were off for a few laps, but Laura, Kristin Kotval, and Melissa would not pull through. I knew I would not win in a break with them, so I decided to get rid of them. The next lap was a prime lap. I gassed it and went for the prime and won. Jenn came with me, and we were off. We took off to establish our lead. Unfortunately, as soon as we established out gap, I started feeling terrible.
My body was not doing well in the heat. I was struggling to stay on Jenn's wheel and pull through. I came through and saw 18 laps to go and wondered what I had gotten myself into. Uhl's team (Intermountain Orthopaedics) had staked out corner four and had a huge contingent. When Jenn and I were off, they started cheering "Heather, Heather, Heather" as we came through. Then it changed to "Heather & Jenn, Heather & Jenn, Heather & Jenn." It was very motivating. With 6 laps to go, Jenn took off and I couldn't go with her. I was cramping and getting the chills; I just hoped I could make it to the finish. Jenn managed to catch the remainder of the pack and then drove them. I was chasing them around the course.
With one lap to go I knew a chase group was closing in. I put my head down and worked as hard as I could without cramping. I stood up and sprinted out of the last corner. However, the line was two feet too long for me. I got passed in the last two feet by Kristin Armstrong, Melissa, and Kristin Kotval. It was heartbreaking for me, but I was glad I made it to the finish. Both calf muscles cramped on my cool down laps. Jenn Halladay won her first NRC event, Kristin Armstrong 2nd, Melissa Sanborn 3rd, Kristin Kotval 4th, Heather Albert 5th, Laura Van Gilder 6th.