Fifteen women lined up for the 2012 Pescadero Road Race. The racing got off to a quick start under sunny skies when Joanna Bechtel (Metromint) initiated a four rider break a kilometer prior to the first Stage Road prime sprint of the day. Emily Thuston (Touchstone) slipped into this group, and took the sprint. Although the split was real, the strong headwind and 73 miles of racing ahead were all the encouragment this group needed to sit up and wait for the pack.
The peloton stayed together over the hills on Stage Road the first lap, but it began to fall apart on the way up Haskins. To no one’s surprise Amy Thornquist (Stevens) led the charge up the hill, effortlessly established a gap, and forced others to chase. It was, however, clear that she was not going full gas so early in the long race. Tanja Tamguney (Red Racing) pulled the thinning pack up the climb and held the tempo-riding Thornquist to about 20 seconds at the top.
The group caught Thornquist on the descent, and last year’s winner Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) jumped off the front. She was soon joined by Tamguney, and the pair established a gap of 20 seconds or so. The reminder of the field took up the chase, with the Stevens trio of Thornquist, Marley Smith and Heather Van Sickle, being assisted by Jane Despas and Elle Anderson (Touchstone). Lisa Mueller (Metromint) was also with the group but free to enjoy the ride with her teammate up the road.
As the chasers hit Stage Road for the second time Smith jumped across the gap and rolled by the two leaders like a freight train to caputure the second prime. This powerful group stretched its lead a little before the first climb on Stage Road began. On that climb, Thornquist made a sucessful effort to brige across. But this stirred the remaining riders to action, as the race seemed to be going up the road. Work by Despas and Anderson kept the gap to the leaders steady at 25 seconds up the climb, and a descending clinic by Anderson ate up the gap before the second climb on Stage Road began.
The group of 8 riders reached the base of Haskings together and began their second ascent. Thornquist floated off the front again, with her trademark big gear, slow cadence climbing style. But this time Van Houweling put in a dig and also distanced herself from the remaining riders. As Thorquist crested the climb, Van Houweling caught up to her, rolled around her, and led down the descent. In a group 25 seconds back were Thornquist’s teammates Smith and Van Sickle, along with Tamguney. An impressive descent and monster effort by Tamguney, reconsolidated the front group of five riders around Loma Mar.
The Stevens riders proposed a rotation to stay away from Anderson, Despas, and Mueller. Van Houweling and Tamguney agreed and the group rolled on to the next prime sprint. At the prime line a very beautiful peacock briefly joined the race, wreaked some havoc, and disappeared across the road. As the excitement died down, the group again reached the hills on Stage Road.
On the first hill, Thornquist rolled the front, but this time she brought Van Houweling with her. This was enough for Tamguney, who faded back. Smith and Van Sickle pushed forward, were just 20 seconds behind at the top, and caught the leading duo as the second climb of Stage Road began. Deja Vu ensued as often happens on Stage Road, and Thornquist and Van Houweling pushed ahead to a 20 second gap at the top of the second bump. Smith and Van Sickle failed to bring them back on the descent, and the gap quickly stretched to over a minute on the tailwinded drag up 84.
The third time up Haskings held no surprises. Thornquist pushed ahead of Van Houweling after the first steep bit, and relentlessly built a winning margin of 30-45 seconds by the top, to claim her first, but certainly not last, win in a Nor Cal Classic. Behind second place Van Houweling, Smith and Van Sickle rolled across the line for third and fourth, completing a strong Stevens showing. Tamguney capped an active and strong race with a fifth place finish. Anderson rolled across in 6th, and Mueller in 7th. Rounding out the top 10 were Despas, Ellen Sherrill (Metromint), and Kim Fong (Cycles Fanatic).
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