Posted by: marissaridesbikes | June 18, 2012

Podium Sweep at Pacific Service Credit Union p/b PG&E Crit

On June 16th, Touchstone arrived in Pleasanton, to find it was “not-so-pleasant” as temperatures hit 102– in the shade.  A field of nearly 40 women toed the line at 12:40 for the Pacific Service Credit Union Powered by PG&E Criterium. The course is
flat and run in a clockwise direction and consists of four very wide corners, with the final corner 150m from the finish. The corners are so wide, they may trick riders into taking some irregular lines, hence there are usually some silly crashes here – fortunately none for the women’s field.  It’s the kind of industrial park criterium that usually leads to a big group finish and no breakaways, especially on a windless day. But the Touchstone team, inspired by Rita Szeto’s “Most Aggressive Rider” award from the previous weekend, was determined to create a breakaway race.

Touchstone’s Marissa Axell harbored a dream of attacking from the start, and with a great clip in, attack she did – taking a CyclesFanatic racer with her. After 1 lap, they were reeled in. Just as Marissa re-entered the field, Touchstone’s Emily Thurston –with yet another Touchstone rider, Elle Anderson on her wheel — attacked up the inside, quickly establishing a 12 second lead on the field.  Red Racing and Tibco II attempted to bridge, but neither rider was able to close the gap. As the peloton slowly reeled in the Red and Tibco II rider, another Tibco II, Adrienne Belleveau, counterattacked with Marissa on her wheel. After a half lap, Marissa looked back to see that they had significant separation from the field.  With the two Touchstone riders still up the road, Marissa wouldn’t contribute to the pace-making, but she attacked into and out of a corner to bridge up to the break on her own. Suddenly, there they were, with looks of astonishment on their faces, three Touchstone riders alone together in a breakaway with a significant advantage over the field. It was just a few laps into the race. With the addition of a third rider and new energy, the breakaway of Emily Thurston, Elle Anderson and Marissa Axell drove the pace and increased their advantage to 45 seconds over the field.

Touchstone Climbing Riders Elle Anderson, Marissa Axell, and Emily Thurston commit to the breakaway

The three Touchstone riders settled into a solid rhythm of taking turns, drinking, recovering and pulling through in the 104-106 degree temperatures to the cheers of the crowd. All three riders endured some terribly low feelings, something akin to a tender cut of meat being basted and roasted for a holiday dinner. Finally, after an eternity, the three riders saw the lap cards counting down to 5. With an actual end in sight, the pace quickened slightly. Elle kept the pace high into the final lap, Emily sprinted for all she was worth with Marissa on her wheel, bringing Marissa to the final corner for the win, completing a Touchstone Climbing podium-sweep.  To put the icing on Touchstone’s cake, Carol Irving contested a furious field sprint, winning fifth by a bike throw. Massive props to the team, selflessly riding to take 1, 2, 3 and 5 on the day, and possibly one of Touchstone’s best finishes in recent memory! Thanks to NorCal Cycling News for the media coverage!

Touchstone sweeps the podium at Pacific Services Credit Union p/b PG&E Crit. (LtoR: Kim Sperling, Emily Thurston, Marissa Axell, Elle Anderson, Carol Irving)

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