Vegas baby! The final race in the USA Crit Series and what a ride it has been. After racking up the airline mileage, suffering a concussion and getting a second row of stitches on my chin it is finally culminating. I have to admit that parking lot crits are not my favorite but off we went to defend our team lead in the crit series and my second place overall. After nearly taking out my eye running into a wire that I did not see in the in field, we all arrived at the starting line. Luckily since most of the VKs were sitting in the top ten, most of us got called up before the race which on this course was pretty important since the areas available to move up were slim with the barriers being on either side.
As it has been all season, the pace was fast from the start and did not let up. The big teams were in force, especially Colavita/Sutter Home and Cheerwine. As is typical of this course there were crashes in the first couple of laps and throughout the entire race. Luckily none of us were directly involved. The VK girls did a great job of staying up in the front and monitoring and dictating the race pace. It was great to see them doing their stuff and I felt that for a first year team we were given the respect of a more developed squad. I had to keep on eye on Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and hope that something magical might happen for me today to overcome her 65 point lead over me in the series. It has been a season long battle with us trading off the top spot. The heat exhaustion I experienced in Charlotte, SC was where the tides switched and Kelly took the lead. It has been an uphill battle trying to gain points back on her. She is such a strong rider with a very strong team and I have learned a lot “battling” with them.
As we were getting into some type of rhythm on the course I saw an opportunity to attack through the chicane area. However, no one wanted to let me go. Jen McRae took off soon after that and was in a two rider break. She is so strong that she eventually dropped the other rider and soloed her way to the win. Colavitta/Sutter Home and Cheerwine chased hard but on this course a single rider has much more of an advantage than the pack. The team put in a good effort with about 4 laps to go and I was able to maintain my position in the top. We came into the sprint and I came in 8th. It was over! We had done it and maintained our team overall lead!
For my first season on the national circuit it was great. Vanderkitten accomplished a lot in one year and it was exciting being a part of it and surrounded by such wonderful people; both the riders and management. In addition, it has also been great to have our sponsors believe in us especially since it was our first year and we had no track record. I am already looking forward to next season!