Though i have no hard proof, mostly because USA Cycling’s records are a shambles, I think Beth Newell’s three bronze medals, yes she won another one in the Omnium today, is a US record for a woman at an international event. I rely on the NorCal community, which I’m sure has better collective memory than USAC to tell me if she’s close to the track record. I was able to catch up with Beth and hear about it in her own words. It’s nice when a racer is quick to respond, funny, and gets to the point!
I am pretty happy about this one. The omnium is a pretty stressful couple of days! I was pretty pleased with my flying lap, although I got 4th and missed out on 2nd by about .15 seconds. In the omnium, every place matters – so that is rough. The points race went really well for me – I ended up taking a lap solo and getting second, which moved me up. The elimination, did not go so hot. I set pace at the front for too long, and then ended up losing steam and got 6th, this moved me down to 4th place. The next day, my pursuit went pretty well, ended 4th (just a little bit out of 3rd). I was a bit slower than in my ride for bronze a few days earlier, but this was day #4 of racing in a row for me, so that fatigue is expected. I knew I had to have a good scratch race, as I was now 1 point down on Colombia. I warmed up… and then about 10 minutes before the start of the evening session – it started pouring! We all waited around under the cover, the Chilean team next to us were crankin’ up the bad pop tunes… and then after 2 hours of this, the race got called and postponed til the morning. This was pretty mentally draining, it had been a long week – and it is hard to get psyched up for race, take too much GU, and then have it delayed another day. I felt pretty good in the morning, despite getting up at 5:45 to get to the track by 6:30. I was hoping to get away in the scratch race, but things didn’t work out like that… it ended in a field sprint, and I was really happy to get 3rd in it. Even better, Colombia and Brazil, who i was close on with points, placed 6th and 5th in this race. This bumped me to 3rd going in the 500m. Honestly, I didn’t have a very good 500m, but it ended up being good enough, to keep me in 3rd. Finishing the omnium is more a relief than anything. I did my own little 6-day this week….. double days almost every day, so it feels great to be done with the track and have performed so solidly. I am really looking for forward to the road race, to get to ride next to Amber Neben, Shelley Olds, and Coryn Rivera – it will be really awesome. I hope we can bring home the USA gold!
Were you nervous in your first big meet?
I don’t know if I was nervous – but i think the nature of the Omnium is that it is most definitely stressful. There are lots of ups and downs – and it is key to quickly forget the race you just did and focus on the next one. Keeping track of warmup, cool down, and nutrition is crucial. And having a really great support crew was critical. Super thanks to Ben Sharp for being great at having me ready for the races, giving me tactical advice, and keeping track of all the little things. He was a good calming presence all week. Also, TJ, the USAC mechanic, was wonderful in making sure my bike was all set up and getting my gears changed. And Viggo, our soigneur, was great at keeping my spirits up and keeping me hydrated. It was most definitely a team effort.
Has your Spanish improved?
I have become good at saying “good morning”, “good afternoon”, and “good evening.” I ended up biking back and forth from the track with Mejias Marlies, the Cuban rider who won the Omnium. She didn’t really speak much English, and I did not speak much Spanish… but I think we bonded.
How did it go with the team pursuit despite minimal practice?
We got to practice a couple of times in the days leading up to the track, but really not that much. I thought we rode a really solid ride, maximizing on all of our strengths. We set a reasonable schedule and had very even splits. Our final was better than our qualifier, and I know we could get much more speed with just a little practice. The team pursuit is such a fun event, but one that really requires a lot of practice to get right.
Are you starting to get recognized by the riders and tifosi?
Well, Mejias Marlies (the Cuban rider) said: “you’re good” to me in the elevator today, so I guess that means yes, I am. Although I can’t speak Spanish, I tried to shake people’s hands and smile after the race, as it is important to be respectful and communicative with all the rider’s out there.
I remember hearing how racing in South America was intense, was the mass start racing in the omnium crazy?
It wasn’t crazy, just weird. The points race, on the first night, was a super aggressive race and really, really hard. Attacks were going all night and it was a really fast race. In the omnium, racing can be so tactical, as you are really only concerned about people who are placed around you – so it made for a funny points race and scratch race. I was lucky to read the racing and make moves at the appropriate time to place well in both of these. I think it will be interesting to see the Omnium at the Olympics – it can be very strange mass start racing, by the nature of the tactics. I wonder if the event will stick around after this Olympics..
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