Elite men and women cyclists will be lining up in Augusta Georgia to battle it out for various US Championship titles this week. In order to get our local folks psyched up to race and watch so we will interview as many champs produced in NorCal as we can get our hands on. The first in this series is with Katheryn Curi Mattis who retired last year after a daring break in the Wold Championship road race. Curi Mattis served as a faithful lieutenant for man of the top women cyclists of the last ten years including Jeanson, Thorburn, and Armstrong. Despite being in a support role Curi-Mattis was hard and opportunistic racer that busted out several huge wins including a US National Championship in 2005.
Where and when did you win?
2005, Park City, UT, US Elite Women’s Nationals Road Race
How did it go down?
See the attachment for the original race report. [ed note: I’m including at the bottom of this interview for everybody to dig into.
Where does it stack in your list of victories?
Definitely up there next to winning the 2008 Geelong World Cup, a stage at the 2010 Tour de L’Aude and the numerous stage race and race victories I have helped my teammates with.
What do you remember going into the race?
I remember before the race feeling this odd calmness (yet also very excited at the same time), as if I knew I had done all the preparation I could leading into the race and all I had to do was go out and race hard and smart.
Were you treated differently when raced with the jersey the following year?
A bit but my challenge was I had really bad accident in February the following year that took me almost all year to recover from. It was hard for me to be wearing the stars and stripes and not feel like I was myself and able to represent it to the best of my ability.
Original Race Report from Katheryn’s 2005 Victory
The US riders of Webcor would tackle a 75 mile course at altitude, competing for the honor of wearing the Stars and Stripes jersey for the next year. The winner would also earn herself an automatic spot on the World’s team.
Having scoped out the course on Monday, the riders knew that the 15 mile stretch leading the riders out to a 23.2 mile loop, that they would do twice, and then come back on would most likely be the crucial part of the race. The loop itself was almost completely flat yet the 15 mile stretch contained some challenging climbs. It wasn’t necessarily the steepness of the climbs (averaged about 5%) or the length (longest at about 3k) but the fact that the pace up them could be very fast and hard coming back into the finish. Also, coming from sea level the 7,000+ altitude had the team wondering how they would feel when the pace got high.
There was also no caravan and riders/teams would have to rely on their own tactical skills and not their director’s. Karen had the pre-race meeting Wednesday morning and spoke about how to be conservative yet present throughout the whole race. She also felt that if Christine or I could counter an attack by Kristin, we had the possibility of getting off solo or with a few other riders. Katheryn also had gotten some feedback from her coach (Laura Charameda) that a good place to start being aggressive was the first hill on the 15 mile stretch back to Park City, figuring that people’s legs would be flat after the two loops. So, with the feedback from two very seasoned racers, the Webcor women were ready to race.
The field for this year’s race was small, about 60 women, and the skies were a bit overcast as the peloton rolled out of Park City just before 1pm.
T-Mobile was aggressive from the beginning, taking advantage of their numbers and the strong crosswind; they sent Brooke and Lara to the front on the way out to maintain a steady tempo on the hills. Christine and Katheryn were a bit concerned as they were riding the deep dish Easton carbon wheels (Tempest II) and did not know how they would control in the winds. (They were awesome!)
All the Webcor riders made it safely over the climbs out to the loop and were ready to take on the challenge of the stacked T-Mobile team (Kimberly Bruckner, defending champion Kristin Armstrong, Kori Seehafer, Brooke Ourada, Mari Holden, Lara Kroepsch and under-23 2005 TT champion Rebecca Much). Quark also had a strong team of Tina Pic, Laura VanGuilder, Grace Fleury, Candice Blickem, and Sara Uhl. Despite not having teams Lynn Gaggioli and Amber Neben were also riders to watch.
Once the group hit the loop for the first time the attacks came early not only from T-Mobile but also Basis. Cat, Stef and Kim did a great job of covering these attacks while Christine and Katheryn kept an eye on the top riders and tried to keep their noses out of the wind. The early breaks were never the right mix of riders and teams and were short lived. The cards were finally shuffled right when Kele Husler managed to attack solo off the front and Cat, Sara Uhl, Lara Kroepsch, Anna Milkowski (Lipton), and Mara Abbott (Sports Garage) bridged up to her. Since all the major teams were represented in the break, teams were content to let the gap grow quickly.
The peloton rolled along the beautiful valley for several miles before T-Mobile decided that they wanted to keep the break in check and sent Rebecca and Brooke to the front to roll through and keep the pace up. Mari and Kori would alternate attacks once and a while to keep things even more exciting, although it had the Webcor women wondering why exactly they were doing this.
Riders had to be very conscious of the wind direction as to not get caught in the gutter with no draft. To make matters worse, the feed zone was located on a cross-wind and very flat and fast section of the course. Fortunately they had very reliable feeders (Ted, Carl and Bernard) and were able to get feeds without incident. Attacks and tempo continued from T-Mobile throughout the second lap and Stef and Kim executed their roles perfectly, keeping Christine and Katheryn as fresh as possible. The skies also decided to open up and shower the riders with some nice rain, causing Katheryn to wonder why the heck she even bothered to put sunscreen on before the race – maybe warming gel would have been a better choice!
Another trip through the fast and furious feedzone led the main peloton to the approach back to the 15 mile stretch to the finish. Cat’s group still maintained their lead around 1:30 and T-Mobile was anxious to bring them back. It is a bit unclear as to how exactly the first climb initially played out but it is known that Kori went to the front to drive it. The peloton was beginning to getstrung out. The race was on! When Kori began to fade, Kristin attacked and continued to drive it. Christine was right on her wheel, as well as Lynn and Amber. Katheryn was a bit mis-positioned and started to get gapped by weaker riders, yet she was able to see that Kimberley was also getting dropped by her teammate, Kristin’s effort. Tina and Laura were struggling and the ever dependable worker, Grace, got to the front to pull them back to the group that was quickly gaining on the fading break. Katheryn was able to take advantage of this free ride back to the front.
Just when Katheryn was being brought back up to the front, the break was reabsorbed and she saw the perfect opportunity to attack. She went flying by on the left hand side and gave it everything that she had. She was counting on the fact that Kimberley, Tina and Laura were suffering and Kristen and Grace had just done efforts on the hill. Amber and Lynn, being solo riders, would look at T-Mobile and Quark to do the work.
Katheryn could hear Christine encouraging her to “Go, Go, Go!” in the radio and a few quick glimpses back provided her with the information that she had a good gap. Fortunately the hill mellowed out before kicking up again and she was able to find her rhythm. Meanwhile, Christine was perfectly positioned on the wheels of Kristen, Lynn, Amber, Kate Sherwin (Victory Brewing), and Grace. Amber and Lynn were the only ones doing any work. When the moto bike first informed her of the chasing group of 6 she made sure that one of those riders was #2, Christine.
Katheryn continued to put time into the chasing group of 6 and felt confident that even if she got caught that Christine could counter off her move, yet that tactic would not need to be played today. The disorganization behind her caused the group of 6 to be caught by the next group and initially no one seemed to want to sacrifice themselves to bring her back. Katheryn’s lead grew to almost 1:30 as she flew down the long decent and powered up the next climb. The moto bike was still doing a great job of keeping her informed of the time splits and they mainly hovered around 1:20. She could also hear Christine’s cheering her on every so often over the radio.
With about 2k to go, Katheryn still had over a minute and she knew, barring major mechanical or freak accident, she would win. The 1k sign brought a smile to her face and at 200m she sat up and began her victory celebration, capping it off with both fists in the air as she crossed the finish line. The National Championship was hers!
Christine sprinted in for third in the bunch kick, 4th overall. Two Webcor women would be on the podium.
Stefanie finished a strong 22nd to secure a second place on the U23 podium behind Lauren Franges (Victory Brewing). Cat and Kimberley finished 25 and 55.
The win was truly a Webcor team effort and could not have been done without the support of the whole team, all the staff, and the wonderful sponsors.
Thanks everyone for making a dream come true!
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