Last weekend, the KR women’s team took to the road to race the Tour of Walla Walla in beautiful southeastern Washington.
- Cheryl kicking off the weekend by winning Stage 1.
- Tricia taking 2nd and Cheryl 4th in the TT, putting these 2 teammates into 2nd (Cheryl) and 3rd (Tricia) in the GC.
- Tricia pulling off 3rd in the crit with some monster efforts from Kele.
- Tricia taking the overall win by 5 seconds!
- A full-on team effort the whole weekend.
- Cheryl’s wonderful family hosting our entire team!
Friday, Stage 1: Kellogg Hollow Road Race, 37 mi with a QOM
This stage is known for its rough winds and unforgiving course. Although the wind wasn’t quite as bad this year, it helped to keep a lid on things, as few attacks were attempted (only 2 or 3 by our team, and one by Jen Wheeler of Hagens Berman), and none stuck. The pack shredded on the QOM climb, but the wind helped to slow the peloton, and allowed for some (but not all) stragglers to chase back on. Tricia made it over the climb with the stronger climbers, Kele and Cheryl descended like pros to catch back on quickly, and Christine worked with 3 other riders to make it back to the pack (a big thanks to Kendi [Kenda/Whitman] for her descending prowess). The finish was strange and garbled, with the pack slowing in the last 1 km, and one of the slowest final 200 m the team has experienced. Kele, Tricia and Cheryl tried to line up for a perfect leadout, but with surging on either side, Cheryl made a last-minute decision to grab the back of the HB train, and outsprinted Wheeler and Jadine (TGH) for 1st – a W for KR (and a 10 second time bonus for Cheryl)!
Saturday AM, Stage 2: Russell Creek Time Trial, 9.3 mi
This is the second year for this fun TT course. A decent climb in the middle, with lots of descending afterwards, and an ever-so-slightly uphill finish, accompanied by some wind all combine to keep things interesting and challenging. Everyone put in their best efforts, and we came through with Tricia placing 2nd, Cheryl placing 4th and Kele rounding out our team’s top 3 in 12th, to take 1st in team GC. This put Cheryl and Tricia into 2nd and 3rd in the GC (behind Jen Wheeler of HB) going into the crit that afternoon.
Saturday PM, Stage 3: Allegro Criterium, 40 minutes
This is also the second year for the lengthened crit course in downtown Walla Walla. Its unique shape is just technical enough to be interesting but still fast and furious. The plan was to keep Tricia and Cheryl in good positioning for the whole the race, and Kele did a fantastic job patrolling and driving the front for them throughout. Both Tricia and Cheryl managed to scoop up about $100 in primes! With 2 laps to go, Wheeler crashed hard, and the pack got shuffled up quite a bit. When Tricia found herself on the front with one lap to go, she decided her best move would be to keep things hot, since Kendi (Kenda/Whitman) and Jadine (TGH) were on her wheel and weren’t going to pull through. Tricia’s smart move and strong legs nabbed herself 3rd in the finish, and the other 3 teammates rolled through with pack time. Unfortunately, Wheeler (the GC leader going into the crit) ended up at the hospital with a broken collarbone, which took her out of contention for the final stage. Sending healing thoughts to Jen!! This also meant that the yellow jersey shifted to Tricia for the final stage.
Sunday, Stage 4: Waitsburg Road Race, 75 miles
This queen stage of the Tour of Walla Walla is notorious for the 3 km climb that the women raced up twice, once each lap, finishing at the top the 2nd time around. Cheryl was placed 2nd in GC behind Tricia, so Kele and Christine spent the first lap staying towards the front, protecting our GC leaders, and keeping an eye out for any attacks. There were no real attempts, as the pack knew it was going to be a long, hot, hard day, and that the climb would decide much. The first time up the climb, there was the anticipated pack separation, but Tricia and most of the potential threats made it over the top together. Cheryl, Kele and Christine got it together on the descent, and chased hard until the feed zone hill. Luckily Cheryl had enough energy left to bridge the gap to the next chase group, and she, along with Jadine and Tamara Bessette (Northern Rockies Orthopaedic) dragged themselves and the rest of that group back up to the field, many of whom had been driving the pace at the front trying to stay away. Once Cheryl’s group caught up, the pace slowed, which allowed Christine and Kele’s smaller chase group of about 7 to work their way back as well. With the group back together, the field was crawling at a pace slower than most neutrals! Multiple times, the moto ref came up to the field to let the ladies know that the Cat 4 Women’s field was gaining time. But since KR was only there to defend, and no other team wanted to take the initiative to drive the pace, the group just spun through the last quarter of the race, until the base of the final climb. Tayler Wiles (Rocky Mtn Colavita), winner of Friday’s QOM, led the climbers up in a group that quickly whittled down to about 7 women. Tricia stayed with Jessica (Cucina Fresca, 3rd GC) and Robin (Riverstone, 4th GC), and came around them at 200 m, finishing 3rd on the stage with a 4 second time bonus. Cheryl, Christine and Kele each gave it all they had for the climb as well, and finished soon after Tricia. After rolling down to the staging area, the women confirmed that Tricia had indeed maintained her GC lead by 5 seconds, and the rest of the KR ladies finished within the top 20 (Cheryl – 10th, Christine – 19th, Kele – 20th) for money spots all around, and 2nd in Team GC.
The weekend was filled with lots of great teamwork, amazing individual efforts, and plenty of lessons to take home. Let’s hear it for the Keller Rohrback women’s team!