One week ago, the very first Women's Pro Challenge started in Breckenridge, Colorado. We were happy to be part of it. In addition to ALP Coaches Patricia (Team TIBCO) and Jennifer (CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling) racing in the Pro Challenge, ALP Cycles Coaching supported and sponsored the Colorado Women's Cycling Project p/b Spark Cycling Team. This was our first time to support a team in this way and it was exciting and rewarding. We had our ALP Cycles logo on the team car and team mini van and on the riders cycling and race clothing. We also provided (ALP Coach) Alison Powers as the team's director for the weekend.
The weekend started on Thursday with a pre-ride of the Time Trial course in Breckenridge. All our ALP riders and CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling team had already seen and ridden the course several times. Today was not about figuring out the course, that had been done already, today was about dialing in our bodies, race strategy, and equipment.
Friday was TT day and the start of the 3-day stage race. CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling rider Gwen got to be the very first racer on course and it was awesome. The crowd was cheering and the atmosphere was amazing.
In addition to making sure things went smoothly for the CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling women, Alison was in ALP athlete Abby Mickey's follow car. Thanks to having a race radio, Alison could make sure Abby was executing her race plan, staying focused, and finding speed at every section of the road possible. Abby had a great TT and finished 4th overall in addition to winning the QOM section of the TT-- which was not in the race plan. The plan was to race to Abby's strength's and limit her loses on the sections of course that didn't necessarily favor her. The race plan was executed to perfection. Great job Abby!
Lessons learned from today included making sure each and every TT bike is set up to UCI specifications.
Day 2 brought the road race from Loveland to Ft Collins. We knew today would be tough. Just like with the TT, the girls had already pre ridden the course and had an idea of what to expect.
We had a pre race meeting to talk about the race and team strategy. Then the girls were on their own for warm-up and final preparation.
We (CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling) were car 12 in the caravan. As you can see, we didn't get to see much of the front of the race. But, we still had plenty of action with feeds, navigating dropped riders, and giving general support to all the riders.
Lessons learned from today included paying attention to the wind direction and how to get out of the wind and using the team cars to navigate your way back into the peloton.
Day 3 was the final day of racing in Golden-- a hilly, technical, criterium. Just like yesterday, we knew today would be tough. This type of "attrition" course doesn't offer much as far as team tactics and strategy. The CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling girls just needed to be smart with their energy and where they expended it. They could help each other by making sure they were out of the wind, or offering up a wheel. They raced their hearts out and it was cool to see.
The day was finished with tired legs and champagne to celebrate the fact that they got to race in the USA Pro Challenge and 'cheers' to doing it next year.
A quick trip to Denver to visit the awesome people at Pactimo ended the day. Pactimo supported the CWCP p/b Sparks Cycling team with kits and skin suits for the Pro Challenge and they are a continuing sponsor of ALP Cycles Coaching.
Lessons learned from today included being thankful for the people and sponsors who get you to a race, and support you in that race. Bike racing is so much more than the racer and the actual race. Without the people who aren't actually racing (race organization, sponsors, teams, staff) the race would not happen at all.
It was a great weekend of racing and we were psyched to be part of it. Here's to a 2016 women's edition of the Pro Challenge.