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Anne Valta Wins It All at 2015 Mariposa Woman’s Stage Race.

Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.
Amazing performance sees Anna Valta to victory at Mariposa Stage Race.

 

 

Mariposa Women’s Stage Races starts with a 10 mile mostly flat TT on Friday afternoon. The weather was perfect, not hot like last year with some headwind going out. I had no teammates in my category since Tanya and I decided to split so we could possible both take the win. The 35+ category had the biggest group of riders because all 4 stages were part of the NCNCA women’s series for the masters racers. I was eager to race against the top guns, and it motivated me to better my time from last year, and actually get the fastest time of the day in all categories. At the end of the day, I got 1:14 on Annie Carrino (Sisterhood of Cycling), and 1:45 on Rikke Jeppesen (Metromint).

Saturday morning started with the Groveland Hillclimb, 6.7miles on 6% average, every category starts separately as a group. Same plan as Friday: get as much time on rivals as possible. The first half a mile or so is the steepest and most of our group was dropped at this point. After 1.5 miles I was alone at the front. It was difficult at times to motivate myself to keep pushing harder since I had no one to breath down my neck although passing riders from other categories gave me some boost of energy. I managed to get a decent time (which turned out to be exactly the same with Tanya although we didn’t race together!) and was comfortably sitting on the 1st spot in GC with 3:23 on Helen Casabona (Pen Velo) and almost 4 minutes on Annie, followed by Rikke. The afternoon’s circuit race was going to be fun!
Our category raced 41.6 miles with 3255 ft of elevation gain. Every lap (8) except the first had time bonuses for the top 3 with the final lap having the biggest ones. Having a comfortable lead in GC, all I wanted and needed to do was to follow wheels and have fun. I figured Helen, Annie and Rikke had to do some serious work, and math! because they all had a chance for the podium. I also expected Charlotte Hart to try to win this one. She was leading the NCNCA women’s series comfortably up until this weekend because most of the races have been criteriums and she is a great sprinter. CR is the least hilly of the stages in Mariposa so she had a chance, I thought. On the second lap Annie’s teammate Raegan attacked. Rikke and Helen were quick to follow. I waited for Annie and Charlotte to react but they seemed happy to sit in the pack. The breakaway was sticking and getting further from us. About a mile later when we got to the last 200m of the lap, and where the only serious hill was, I attacked hard. The hill is followed by a 1.5 mile, non-technical descent and I went down as hard as I could. No one was following me, and about mile later I caught up with the breakaway. For the rest of the race I was happy to contribute in the paceline and let Helen and Rikke take most of the top 1-2 sprint points but making sure I got the last one and the win :D. My time gap at the end of stage 3 was 4:26 to Helen and about 1:30 more on Rikke. Annie’s mental lapse had caused her the podium on this stage 🙁
Sunday’s 51.5 mile road race finished off our weekend fun. We raced 4 laps with over 6000ft of elevation gain. Everyone was sore at this point but the ladies in places 2-4 still had chances to keep or lose the podium so again, I expected some attacking happening early. Surprisingly to me, none of the 3 podium contenders were willing to work so to keep myself somewhat sane and to have a good workout at least, I pulled the pack around for 1.5 laps. At some point towards the end of the second lap Rikke rode next to me and said: “Can you ease off a little bit on the pace!” I asked what was the problem: “Are people dying back there?” “A little bit”, came the answer. Okey, I thought, this is interesting. So when we got to short bump at the finish I attacked thinking they might as well just let me go since it won’t change anything in the standings. This time I had a 5 mile, screaming fast downhill following the climb and I was having a blast trying to get away from my pursuers. Half way down the descent I hear “On your right!” and see Meredith of our team flying by with a Metromint on her wheel. I started laughing so hard and that might have cost me because I was caught shortly after. At the bottom of the hill everyone started chatting and I was eating my lunch when Helen sneaked out ahead of us. I was waiting for a reaction from Rikke and Annie (Liz Benishin was the 5th on this breakaway) but they didn’t pursue Helen. As we got on a small incline I sprinted up to Helen and said, “Let’s go!” We worked hard for about 5 miles or until the end of the lap and figured we had established a good gap. By the last lap I was seriously starting to feel the toll on my legs but I kept on appearing to look like I was fresh as daisy. Helen and I kept a decent but chatty pace until the last 1km and then I took off to ride to the sunset, and finish up a unbelievable weekend of racing and having fun with a couple of teammates and other great female riders. I was so grateful that I felt good enough all weekend long to win all the stages and to be able to be aggressive, and make a difference in the races. So much more fun than just riding along and waiting for something to happen 🙂

Anne
The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith
The ThirstyBear p/b Akamai Womens Dream Team. Monica, Tanya, Anne & Meredith

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