Once Team TIBCO parked, had a short meeting, and signed in, a few of us headed out to warm up and ride a few sections of the course. Today's route was going to be a tough one. It was 4 laps with a flase flat into a 1km steep climb at the beginning of each circuit. The corner heading into the climb had a median in the middle of it so it was going to be tricky with a large field. Unlike yesterday, the field was sure to break up heading to the finish.
The first lap was very tight, it's always that way because everyone is fresh. As we counted down the laps there was a little more room to move up through the field as the miles, I mean kilometers, wore on.
There were sprint points on the line at 1 to go and that was going to be a critical part in the race. Just before then we started the last lap, Claudia Haussler, our pink jersey hope, had a flat. Chantal Blaak and Jasmine Glaesser stopped with her. I panicked a little bit and wasn't sure what to do. Initially I started to stop with them, then I went with my 2nd instinct, the advice of my husband, and waited at the back. It was perfect. Just after the start/finish line I started to hear the cars honking which meant a rider was coming up through the cars. I looked back and there was Chantal with Claudia on her wheel. The field was racing towards the climb and after Chantal dropped Claudia off at the back of the long line that was the field, I motored past all of them to deliver her just in time to start the climb at the front of bunch. I was blown but Shelley Olds had stayed in a top position and was able to take over care of Claudia over the climb.
It was a good thing I started at the front of the climb because I used the entire length of the 150 rider peloton to fall back as I wobbled up the 16% pitch. I recovered all I could after this maximum effort for the last time up the climb. I was being patient in 'conserve' mode and found myself in a split of 15 just off the main group over the top of the climb. I rode within myself confident we would catch back on. I also knew I had more work to do once we caught in keeping Claudia safe to the finish and making sure there were no time gaps. As soon as we caught I went to find Claudia. When I saw her Jo Kiesanowski was with her so I was more calm, knowing we both could work together to keep Claudia up front. For the last 15km, Jo and I tried to keep the 'Claudia bubble' up at the front, moving her up and keeping others out of her way. The sprint finally started and we all rode in together across the line. It was a chaotic day but at the end we kept Claudia in contention so it was 'lavoro ben fatto' and we will 'combattere di nuovo domani'!