World Cup Round 6
"My Elita team's best chance at a win was to go on the attack and try to get a small group of riders off the front. With this end in mind, I attacked on the last lap about 5 or 6 kilometers from the bottom of the climb. The Germans were riding a good hard tempo at the front in an effort to reduce attacks. The pace was about 43kph and as soon as I hit the wind I began to feel the effort. As I opened the gap I looked back to see three red Elita jerseys at the front of the peloton, protecting my chances of staying away.
I came into the town of Manayunk with 20 seconds on the field and thousands of people were screaming for me. There had not been an individual break all day and all the fans were cheering for my bravery (or foolhardiness). I was gambling; if I could keep my gap over the top of the wall I could possibly stay away for the win.
I pounded my way over the small section of cobbles and left onto the climb by myself and began the arduous climb. The noise from the crowd was absolutely overpowering. I had goosebumps from the top of my head to the bottoms of my feet. These people were cheering for me!
Unfortunately about two-thirds of the way up the climb I heard the click of gears and a group of women passed me. Struggling to stay focused on the race and not the pain in my legs I tried to stay with the front group. Cybil went charging by and gave me a brief 'You can do it!' That was what I needed." -- Giana Roberge
All the best teams in the world, each with six riders, were there. Watching were all the people of Philadelphia and all my friends from New York City. The wall as usual was four deep in people screaming, singing, drinking beer, and generally having a party. It's been fun to watch the Manayunk area change over the years. It's now filled with super cute stores and restaurants.
The race was much less active than I thought it would be. Petra Rossner was the one to beat and she was only on one team. The other teams needed to get rid of her if they wanted to win. The climb, Manayunk wall, is hard no matter what's happening in the race. It's not that long. However, there are three tight, cobbled corners right before the bottom of the climb so positioning before then is crucial. And of course it's steep.
Karen Dunne and I did a great job of communicating. She helped me a great deal with some positioning techniques, making the move to the front easy. Late in the first lap a small break got a little gap and were quickly caught. The third time up the wall a break got off and were caught. The same thing happened each time up the wall. No where else were there concerted efforts to break the field up.
Giana Roberge (Elita) got a gap leading into the final climb (see sidebar) and was caught close to the top. On Strawberry Hill ( I think) on the 5th and final lap, Pregnolato (Dream Team) got a gap which lasted to 2k from the finish. It was this break that set the stage for the finish. I went after her with a few others and we had a small gap from the strung out field. I attempted a bridge to her unsuccessfully. As we caught Pregnolato and the field started setting up for the sprint Karen was behind me and told me so. We were at the beginning of the circle at that point riding towards the 1K to go marker. I took her around the outside of the circle up to the front and to at least the 200 m mark. It was so cool how it just clicked and worked. Tom Ehrhard, my first coach, was in town. He watched the finish at the circle and said I was riding in a big gear with a face of extreme focus. Karen sprinted to a 2nd place finish, a podium appearance, and a spot on the Pan American team this July in Canada.
Aleka did an awesome job helping Marissa get to the finish to win the under 23 award. She proved 100% that she is a team player, giving up her chance to sprint at the end to do so. Many kudos to her for doing a needed job that will, like most domestique roles, never get enough recognition.
The 1999 Liberty Classic with Celestial Seasonings will go down in my memory book as one of my career highlights.
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