The Pre-Season racing continued this weekend with the famed Cal Aggie crit in Davis. In the Men’s race Sam Bassetti attacked late in the race for a solo win off the front. It was a win stylistically approved by teammate Rand Miller who was monitoring the chase group on Bassetti’s heals.
The Women’s race sported several big names including Emily Kachorek, Flavia Olivera, Beth Newell and several Vanderkitten-Focus riders. Despite the presence of some of NorCal’s top talent it was Heather Lipana riding for Bill Nicely’s upstart Steven’s p/b Pactimo Women’s team that took the win.
The Steven’s team founder, and former controversial NCNCA President, Bill Nicely sent us a report on how the race unfolded.
The Cal Aggie Criterium saw unseasonable clear and warmish weather (mid 60’s). The Pro/1/2/3 women’s field saw about twenty-five starters including Beth Newell (Now MS), Emily Kachorek (Primal/MapMyRide), Flavia Oliveira, Vanessa Drigo (VanderKitten-Focus) and Maura Kinsella (VanderKitten-Focus). Debuting in this race was Stevens Bikes p/b Pactimo with four entrants (Heather Pryor, Marley Smith, Amy Chandos, Heather Lipana). Early action saw riders from Touchstone Climbing and Stevens Bikes (Marley Smith) on solo breaks that were merely probing attacks and readily brought back. For an early season race the pace was honest, leading to several riders being shelled and reducing the field to about twenty riders. With 7 or 8 laps to go, Maura Kinsella launched a solo attack just past the S/F line that saw no reaction from the pack.
Over the next two laps Maura’s lead would grow to about 30 seconds with no apparent response from the pack. Maura, who placed fifth in the 2011 U23 National Championship Time Trial looked on form and comfortable in TT mode. The next two laps saw the lead reduced to 25 then 20 seconds with only three laps to go. The crowd of about 150 were cheering her on believing the break to be secure. Just past the S/F line with three to go Heather Pryor and then Marley Smith went to the front and over the next two laps erased the gap to the solo break with just less than one to go.
The pack hesitated just after the catch and there was a general reshuffling for the remaining riders in the pack. Stevens Bikes lined up all four girls at the front heading into the turns and chicanes at the bottom of the course. Heather Pryor then Marley Smith took turns at the front until Amy Chandos stood and initiated the sprint coming out of the last turn with Heather Lipana coming off of Amy’s wheel at about 400 meters out, catching the seasoned riders a bit off guard, getting an initial gap that Emily Kachorek, Sunshine Townsend, Flavia Oliveira and Beth Newell could not close before the line. Repeating the exact winning drive as Beth Newell in this race last year, Heather Lipana, a second year racer earned her best career result, Stevens Bikes p/b Pactimo’s first victory and her final upgrade points for Category 2. With the perfectly executed lead-out and well-timed sprint, Stevens Bikes has certainly placed themselves on the map in the NorCal Women’s racing scene.
The Steven’s team is one of a handful of women’s development teams that has stepped in to fill the void left by the Webcor Alto Velo Women’s team which folded for good at the end of last year. The early season win comes as a happy surprise to the team and it’s founder, so they should be an outfit to watch. Look for an interview with Nicely on the team and it’s goals later this week.
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