The Topsport Stage Race was held March 31-April 1 2012 within the rolling green hills of the Sierra Foothills, in the vicinity of Copperopolis, CA. It also boasted one of the worst weather forecasts of the weekend with a 70-100% chance rain and 18mph winds. Yet Touchstone’s own Josie Morgan registered last minute, showing her affinity for tough racing! Sure enough, she arrived at the
road race Saturday to find bitter cold winds and rain. Impressively, the entire field showed up
to the line and, given the option to shorten the race considerably, all racers opted for the full
length, signalling again, the depth and toughness of the NorCal Women’s Peloton.
The road race was a rolling out-and-back course, with the start line about mid-way,
and the finish closer to one end of the course. Metromint was the largest team represented
in the field, and the first to attack. Several attacks continued through the first turn-around, until Julie Bellerose (Metromint) attacked with the field happy to sit on it. Eventually Josie made an effort to bridge, unaware that Kelly Crowley (Primal-Map My Ride) was set to sling-shot herself up to the break. Kelly and Julie now had a more threatening break away. After some chasing it became clear the break would likely stick.
Unfortunately, several race favorites crashed out of the race part-way through. Three heavy hitters were out — Rikke Preisler (Metromint), Jennie Phillips, and Jane Despas. Touchstone Climbing sends their collective best wishes and the speediest of recoveries to those injured!
Shortly following the crash, Molly Van Houweling (Metromint), flatted, leaving a much smaller remaining field. Not long before the last turn-around, Kelly was caught, leaving Julie up the road. After the final turn-around, the pace slowed considerably, with the final sprint for 2nd on everyone’s minds. As the final kilometer was a gradual uphill to the finish; Touchstone made an accelleration for the line with Metromint (Ellen Sherrill) and Tibco II (Heather Ross) hot in pursuit. Josie held them off at the line, claiming 2nd on the stage. Ellen finished third, Heather 4th, and Lucia Mokres (Los Gatos), 5th.
Due to the chaos of the race — flats, rain, and the crash — the time gaps in GC standings were
big. Both the time-trial and circuit race courses were windy again; the TT rolling and bumpy, the circuit race much smoother. At the end of the TT stage, Josie ceded time, dropping from 2nd to 4th.
By the time the Circuit Race came around a couple hours later, fatigue was on everyone’s mind. Josie played her cards conservatively and would focus on maintaining her 4th place. As anticipated, Molly Van Houweling (Metromint) attacked early in the circuit race and held on to a solo win. The remainder of the field came in for a field sprint.
The final General Classification standings saw Julie Bellerose (Metromint) claiming the win, Lucia Mokres (Los Gatos) in second, Heather Ross (Tibco II) in third, Touchstone’s Josie Morgan in
fourth, and Ellen Sherrill (Metromint) in fifth.