The at least 40 strong women’s field started hard at Mt. Hamilton. Attacks and counterattacks began about halfway up the first pitch of the climb. Jane Despas (Yahoo) started things off to stretch her legs. Alison Starnes (PB2012) and Flavia Oliveria (Wells Fargo) quicky responded and got a good gap (~1min) on the much reduced field of 15 women that remained over the top of the first pitch.
At the start of the second pitch, Oliveria had a mechanical and was passed by the field. Bad luck for Flavia and bad luck of for the remnants of the field, which was once again destroyed by her acceleration as she came back by them on her way to the QoM Prize. The only woman who could hang with her this time was Tayler Wiles of (PB2012). Down the descent the two PB riders and Flavia joined forces.
Chasing behind were Kristina Seley (Specialized-Missing Link) and Susannah Breen (Fremont Bank), followed at 1 minute by Olivia Dillon (PB2012), Beth Newell (Fremont Bank), Bec Werner (Webcor), and Molly Van Houweling (Metromint). Even this last group had averaged 14mph from the start when it crested the climb.
Down the backside of Hamilton, Dillon performed her first feat of gravity acrobatics on the day, dropping two members of her group (correction — apparently Werner, not Dillion led the way down the hill) and crossing the gap to Breen and Seley with Werner. Near the feed zone the four chasers caught the front three, who had apparently decided not to drive the pace or attack each other over the flats. Anyway, this group of 7 soon became 9, as Newell and Van Houweling rejoined the after a very efficient chase.
At this point, it was all downhill (though 20 miles of that), and it turned out to be Dillon time. After a few PB attacks to soften up the field, Dillon countered a catch and quickly got a gap. She then scorched through the twisty and fast corners on Mines Road. The chase was mostly lead by Van Houweling. And with two PB riders sitting near the front, it was never well organized even when others pitched in. Dillon’s gap stretched to 30+ seconds and she took an impressive solo victory.
The finish of the pack was marred by a bad crash. With about 500 meters to go, Starnes, who had been gapped on the last downhill, came back to the pack and attacked hard around the left. Oliveria tried to jump on Starnes, and somehow ended up on the ground. She landed partly on her face and head and was taken away in an ambulance.
In the end, the top five were Dillon, Wiles, Newell, Werner, and Van Houweling. Notably, that 5 person podium included the last 4 women (of the final 9) to crest the climb, showing that Mt. Hamilton can be about daring downhills and determined chasing as well as going up.
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