Friday's Stage 1 of the Exergy Tour took us to the Nampa Road Race, a 76-mile slugfest made all the more harder by pouring rain and 46-degree weather. With a field of 103 riders, breaks began to stick after the Queen of the Mountain, but eventually the race came back together and the peloton moved toward a crash-impending print finish. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Exergy TWENTY12) took the win, Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Specialized-Lululemon) nabbed second place and the leader's jersey, and Rochelle Gilmore (Faren Honda) finished third.
Team Colavita's Leah Guloien proved she has the grit to win big sprints when she found herself in the top 15 heading into the finish. After a controversial push from a European rider on Top Sport Vlaanderen, Guloien tangled with world champion Giorgia Bronzini and Forno d'Asolo rider Liza Rachetto, all three of whom went down in a nasty crash. (Despite their injuries, all three will continue to race this week). Showing the peloton that the new Colavita team has as much fight and heart of any veteran race squad, Moriah Macgregor, Mary Zider and Maria-Luisa Calle caught back on after flat tires and mechanical issues, while Jamie Dinkins and Joanie Caron kept the pace competitive.
Saturday's Stage 2, the Kuna time trial, brought the same weather as Friday and many riders struggled with the slippery conditions during the 10.4-mile event. With crashes at the first corner, the turnaround cone, railroad crossings and skidding off the slick metal start ramp, weather proved a tough opponent for many riders. Just as the Canadians swept the podium during the prologue, Specialized-Lululemon's team sweep showed the world that North American competitors are dominating the discipline of the ITT. USA's Amber Neben (21:38) and Evelyn Stevens (21:52) took first and second, while Canadian Clara Hughes (21:58) was third. With their sights set firmly on Olympic qualification, it's quite possible those three didn't even realize it was raining.
For Team Colavita, the time trial showed our strength and commitment toward improvement. In a field dominated by world champions and Olympians, we had no finishers in the top 10, but our times were a reflection of improvement. Maria-Luisa Calle of Colombia placed 24th (23:15), while I finished 39th (24:02). While 39th may seem a long way from first, when you're up against the world's best, it's a sign of improvement, and maybe even a promise of something better yet to come.
Sunday's 57-mile Garden Valley-Idaho City road race will bring out the climbing stars of each team, and we eagerly await the talents of Calle and Katie Donovan. So stay tuned. Right now, we're off to do what Team Colavita does best: eat some good pasta.
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