The official podium at the 2013 Patterson Pass Road Race was composed entirely of Metromint Women (Katie Hall, Sabrina David, Molly Van Houweling). The unofficial one was topped by Fiona Strouts (Folsom Bike), who made the mistake of veering across the center line in sight of the finish, and was disqualified by the officials.
The 20-strong field of women rolled away from the power facility at the base of Patterson Pass road at a moderate pace. However, as they reached the last and windiest section of the climb Joanna Dahl, one of the six Metromint’s in the race, launched the first attack of the day and split the field into thirds at the top.
The peloton had mostly regrouped by the base of Flynn, but Strouts jumped out of the corner, and took the front to change that. The field exploded up the tailwinded climb and the front group was down to four, with Hall, David, Jane Despas (Leopard-Sapporo) hanging tight at the top. Tina Hughes (Hub Coffee Roasters), Ellen Sherrill (Metromint Cycling), Ginger Snell (Pinnacle p/b Argon 18) and another Leopard-Sapporo rejoined this group by the 580 overpass.
Molly Van Houweling and Dahl were further behind and only made contact over the first roller on Midway. Van Houweling immediately attacked, but her effort was quickly covered by Strouts. She attacked again, covered by Despas. Hall countered and split the remaining riders with Dahl, David, Strouts, and Despas joining her at the front. They cooperated over the remaining flats and had a 30 second gap by the feed zone.
Soon thereafter Despas dropped back to the chasing Hughes, with Van Houweling sitting tight behind them. Next to fall out of the front group was Dahl, who suffered a momentarily debilitating leg cramp on the second pass of Midway. David, Hall, and Strouts worked together at the front displaying the form they had earned with strong rides at the Cascade Cycling Classic. The Metromint duo (and former housemates), Hall and David, were plotting to work over Strouts–ideally setting up David to go out with a final California victory as she prepares to depart for graduate school in Boulder. But David suffered an ill-timed flat just after the final-lap turn onto Altamont Pass Road. Hall commented after the race that “I was so happy to be in a break with two of my teammates and Fiona. Fiona is so strong, and our break was working well together. I was excited to start attacking with Sabrina in an attempt to work over Fiona, and bummed to not get the chance when Sabrina flatted in the last lap.”
To ensure that the Metromint-plotted attacks would not occur, however, Strouts redoubled her efforts at the front. This left David chasing at 40 seconds back after a wheel change. Strouts seemed to have enough strength left to pull out a victory despite all of the work she had done to set-up a 1-on-1 finishing sprint with Hall. But she made the frustrating error of veering over the center line as she approached the finish with Hall on her wheel. Hall stayed to the right and immediately started her sprint once she no longer had the draft of Strouts. Strouts held her off by a bike length at the line, but was disqualified. By the final corner David had been joined by Van Houweling, who had attacked and left behind the chasers from other teams. The two completed the official podium. Despas crossed the line next to cement her Cal Cup lead.
In the end, Hall continued her string of impressive performances that began with her victory in Mariposa Women’s Stage Race, and continued through her top-20 ride at the Cascade Classic. And while small misfortunes and mistakes ruled the days of David and Strouts, it was clear that with the form they are currently displaying they are favorites for topping podiums in the near future, whether in NorCal or Colorado.
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