Last weekend’s Sea Otter was a strong indication for the Optum p/b KBS Women’s Team that standout Jade Wilcoxson is building some solid form ahead of major upcoming goals including: the SRAM Tour of the Gila, the Tour of California Women’s Time Trial and U.S. Professional National Championships. With just one other teammate on hand in Monterey, Amber Gaffney, the duo took on the field with great success over the opening 3 days of the event, which largely races around the huge festival and expo atmosphere at the Laguna Seca Raceway.
The opening stage was taken in commanding fashion by Wilcoxson who attacked in the last lap of the criterium to hold off the sprinting field. Jade grabbed the yellow jersey and sprint jersey for her efforts. Gaffney meanwhile, was held up by a late crash but escaped injury herself.
The stage 2 road race would be a difficult affair for the Optum p/b KBS pair to defend Jade’s lead given other squads had 4 and 5 riders on hand to send teammates up the road. However the difficult terrain was ideally suited to Wilcoxson who capably defended her lead with Gaffney’s support, taking another stage win and also the King of the Mountain jersey for good measure.
Saturday’s Time Trial was a hard fought battle where Wilcoxson took a very narrow defeat to Exergy Twenty 16’s Alison Tetrick, finishing 3rd just 3 seconds behind. Jade and Amber were still in good shape looking toward overall victory on Sunday, however the other teams would continue to put pressure on them and again ask Jade to hold back the entire field if she wanted to take final honors.
The final stage was the circuit race around the Laguna Seca Raceway course which tackles a gradual and exposed climb before zipping through the infamous “corkscrew” descent at speeds of 50-60 mph. Jade and Amber attempted to keep the field at bay but a 2 rider break finally formed, which was able to wrestle away to top 2 positions in the overall. Jade finished up 3rd overall but did manage to keep her lead in the Sprint Competition.
Wilcoxson will benefit from the hard racing at Sea Otter, as she gets a brief respite this weekend when the men and women take on the next stop on the National Racing Calendar schedule, the Joe Martin Stage Race in Fayetteville, AK. Joining Amber Gaffney at Joe Martin, will be Brianna Walle, Joelle Numainville, Annie Ewart and New Zealand National Champion, Courteney Lowe.
The men’s team will consist of Chad Haga, Tom Zirbel, Jesse Anthony, Mike Friedman, Tom Soladay, Eric Young, Mike Sherer and USPRO Criterium National Champ Ken Hanson.
Stay tuned for updates on the racing, which begins with a short uphill time trial on Thursday.
Stage 1 Race Report from Jade Wilcoxson
With just Amber and I representing Optum at the Sea Otter Classic this week, we weren’t sure how the first day of racing would play out. There were some strong riders and teams pushing hard for the win at the Stage 1 criterium. Multiple attacks kept the pace of the race hard and riders were soon popping off the back. Amber and I exchanged attacks early on to further dwindle the field size. Amber then, unfortunately, was caught up in a crash which left me to fend for myself. I tried hard to either form a break or get away solo without success. In the process, I timed my attacks to get maximum sprint jersey points as well as the intermediate time bonus. With one lap to go the field was together. I attacked before the last corner and soloed to the finish. I’m now in the yellow and sprint jersey.