Posted by: marissaridesbikes | February 21, 2012

Race Report: a Top 5 finish at Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada Folsom Criterium

Touchstone Climbing was represented by five teammates at the Bicycles Plus/Sierra Nevada Folsom Criterium on Saturday, February 11, 2012. The Folsom Criterium course is used several times each racing season, this race saw the course run in the clockwise direction.  It’s a flat course with great pavement. The weather was overcast at the start with very mild wind but the sun shined during the race. The Women’s 1/2/3 field comprised of  25 including the Touchstone teammates: Carol Irving, Heather Nielson, Josie Morgan, Marissa Axell and Rita Szeto. The field also included thee riders from the newly formed Stevens p/b Pactimo team; local pro Emily Kachorek from Primal/Map My Ride, two riders from Los Gatos and three from Metromint.

Touchstone was active from the start with teammate Josie answering an attack from Stevens rider in the second lap. Touchstone teammate Heather countered again, and two Stevens riders answered the attack with Touchstone rider Marissa responding. With Kachorek joining the break of 6, it was imminent that they would stay away.  Immediately after seeing all teams represented in the attack, the chasing field let up slightly, allowing the break to establish.

As the lap cards counted down, Stevens began whittling away the breakmates. The Primal rider joined Stevens to separate themselves leaving Touchstone, Los Gatos and Metromint  in pursuit. After one lap it was evident they were not going to be reeled in, and in fact they went on to lap the field. The remaining Stevens rider sat on the group of three and eventually attacked, gaining a gap that the group could not close–although the the Los Gatos, Metromint and Touchstone racers cooperated well together.

Meanwhile back in the main pack, with four remaining Touchstone riders, the race was still active with attacks, counter-attacks and intermediate sprints –teammate Carol Irving winning one prime. With 5 laps to go, there were shouts from the field that the front group had split up and that the main pack was gaining time on the broken lead group.  A quick decision was made and it was decided to send Heather Nielson up the road in an attempt to bridge to help assure a good finishing place for Touchstone.  She attempted to bridge for over two laps but was reeled back to the peloton with a little over a lap to go.

In the final laps, Marissa, representing Touchstone in the break, focused on winning the remaining sprint. Metromint led out the sprint from the final corner and Los Gatos stood to answer the sprint and Touchstone stayed attentive and powered across the finish line first to take 4th for Touchstone Climbing.

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