Team TIBCO/To the Top's approached the second stage of the San Dimas Stage Race like a one-day race, said team directeur sportif Emma Rickards.
"We went into the day looking to race the race we wanted," she said. "We felt like the best chance we had to win today was to be aggressive and establish a small break."
On an unusually warm day – with the race-time temperature hovered around 90 degrees – the team put its plan into action from the start, with everyone staying near the front and covering moves. The first Team TIBCO rider to get away was Rebecca Much, who came into the stage as the team's highest placed rider in the overall standings after posting 9th in the stage 1 uphill time trial on Friday, which earned her the leader's jersey in the U25 competition.
"Alexis Rhodes attacked coming across the line at the end of the first lap and I went with her," Much said. They were joined by Chloe Hosking (HTC-Columbia) and Heather Logan-Sprenger (Colavita/Baci). With no member of the Peanut Butter & Co. team of race leader Mara Abbott in the break, the pressure was on them to control the break.
The four worked well together up front, establishing a gap that reached 1:20, but when Hosking was dropped on lap four, HTC began to work, eventually launching Ina Teutenberg and Evelyn Stevens, who was second overall, up to Much and her break-mates.
This turned up the pressure on Peanut Butter & Co., who closed down the break at the end of lap five. With the catch, Kim Anderson (HTC-Columbia) counter-attacked, and Team TIBCO's Amanda Miller followed the move. Rhodes (Team Vera Bradley) again joined the break, along with Kelly Benjamin (Colavita/Baci) and eventually Anne Samplonius (Nanoblur).
"The break worked pretty well together," Miller said. "I did a lot of work along with Alexis and Anne. I think, in the end, maybe I did a bit too much work."
The five riders eventually opened a big enough gap to make Miller the virtual race leader on the road. Coming into the final lap, the group still held nearly a minute gap over the Peanut Butter & Company-led peloton, and it look more and more like the break would come to the line to contest the stage.
"The finishing straight is quite long and you can see the riders coming," Rickards said. "We saw the break coming and they still had a good gap, but we didn't see Amanda."
"Half-way through the last lap, Alexis attacked," Miller said. "Kim covered it and I went with them and then my legs cramped really badly and I had to drop off the break. I don't think I've ever cramped like that before. The weather was really warm today, and I think coming from Colorado this week, my body wasn't quite ready for the heat."
Despite coming away from the day without a top result, Rickards was extremely happy with the way the team raced today.
"The girls were exceptional today," she said. "They raced really well as a team and had the race under control. It was really exciting to watch the girls race today."
San Dimas concludes Sunday with a 55-minute criterium.