The women’s team started their season with fireworks this weekend in Tucson, winning the Old Puelbo Grand Prix in spectacular fashion. Lauren Hall, who finished 4th in last year’s event, used aggressive, smart tactics to catch the rest of the field by surprise midway through the criterium – she launched a solo attack and never looked back, eventually lapping the entire field on her way to victory.
Leah Kirchmann, who won last year’s event, was comfortable alongside her teammates tetting the rest of the field do the work necessary to catch their speeding teammate. She finished third in the bunch sprint for the rest of the podium spots, over a lap behind Hall.
The early result shows that after a successful training camp, the women are comfortably on form, and should continue the hot streak they carried through the end of a 2013 season that culminated at the World Championship in Florence.
“We came into these races with no pressure. We just wanted to blow out the winter cobwebs and have the riders get their race sensations back – and did they ever!” said new Performance Director Kevin Field. “Lauren is on super form right now, and the whole team was awesome. In a race like this, we just try to be as aggressive as possible and also tactically sound. Obviously, the team executed these things perfectly in their first race.”
The riders also participated in the first annual Old Pueblo Gran FUNdo, a recreational ride to benefit Tucson Moves a Million Miles, a health initiative to make the city a healthier place in which to live, an event perfectly in line with Optum Pro Cycling’s own Human-Powered Health initiative.
The women will remain in Arizona for the following week and will compete in next weekend’s bookend to Old Pueblo, the Tucson Bicycle Classic, March 14-16. The three-day stage race around the western part of the city includes a time trial, criterium, and road race.
Old Pueblo Grand Prix and Tucson Bicycle Classic Roster