The TWENTY16 Ridebiker powered by Sho-Air professional women’s cycling team’s 2016 race season has been ramping up throughout Spring, and the squad has been racking up wins at domestic events like Valley of the Sun Stage Race and Chico Stage Race. Most recently, veteran racer Kristin Armstrong took her first win of the season (in her very first race of the season) at the San Dimas Stage Race in California. At the same time, the majority of the TWENTY16’s young roster traveled to Europe to race in events such as the Tour of Flanders. We checked in with TWENTY16’s general manager Nicola Cranmer to talk about the team’s recent success at San Dimas, the incredible learning experience that comes with racing in Europe, as well as the team’s plans for one of the biggest events on its race schedule: this weekend’s Redlands Classic Stage Race.
TWENTY16’s Kristin Armstrong defends her yellow leader’s jersey at Stage 3 of the 2016 San Dimas Stage Race. (Photos: VeloImages)
FELT: TWENTY16’s Kristin Armstrong won the overall at last weekend’s San Dimas Stage Race, and she only had two teammates with her at that event, correct?
NICOLA: Yes. Kristin Armstrong hasn’t raced since the World Championships last year in Richmond, Virginia, and I think that there’s always a bit of apprehension coming into the first race of the season for every rider, but in particular those who have started their season a bit later than others. Kristin had only two teammates with her at San Dimas because the majority of our team was racing in Europe: Jennifer Tetrick, who is a relatively new rider to the pro peloton, and Summer Moak, who is one of our junior athletes and only 16 years old.
TWENTY16 rider Summer Moak takes a corner during the Stage 3 criterium of the 2016 San Dimas Stage Race.
FELT: Tell us how the individual stages played out for Kristin and her teammates.
NICOLA: The first stage of San Dimas is an uphill time trial up the famous Glendora Mountain Road, and Kristin did a great ride on that first stage. And we’re actually still trying to verify if it was a course record—there’s some confusion because the course distance has changed over the years and it’s difficult to compare results. But in any case, Kristin is definitely on good form. And the next stage of San Dimas was the road race, where there were a lot of aggressive riders in the mix. Kristin worked hard to control the front of the race, and she was defending her yellow leader’s jersey along with her teammates, and they were all doing a lot of work. Kristin is not afraid to do what needs to be done, and she even went for intermediate time bonuses throughout the stage, as well. Not too many people know that she can sprint as well as she can. And the third and final stage’s criterium came down to staying safe and not getting into a scuffle at the finish.
Jennifer Tetrick of the TWENTY16 pro women’s cycling team was one of three team riders contesting the 2016 San Dimas Stage Race.
FELT: You mentioned that much of the team was racing in Europe. How was that experience for them?
NICOLA: A lot of these girls have never raced over there, and they have to learn the rhythm of racing. Roads in America are really wide, for example, but in Europe they’re not. That changes things a lot when you’re racing on them. A lot of those narrow roads are almost like bike paths, and there’s also a lot of pave [cobbled sectors]. It’s a big learning experience for our young athletes, and that’s important because when American racers go to Europe, they have to learn. Riders who grow up in Europe learn early on the importance of positioning, because they’re often racing on a narrow road that’s only going to turn onto an even narrower road. You have to be on the front or you’re going to get shelled. The weather, the language, the different food, they’re all big adjustments. But, overall, I would say the team raced really well. Alison Jackson, in particular, had a little bit of experience racing in Europe last year with our team in one race, as well as a few races with the Canadian national team. So she can get around the peloton well and knows about positioning. It would have been nice to get a better result, because we’re a results-oriented team, but there has to be a point where we remember that we’re also a development team. Our riders have to put the miles and the time into these European races and that’ll pay off big for them in the long run.
Team TWENTY16’s general manager, Nicola Cranmer.
FELT: This weekend is the Redlands Classic Stage Race in Southern California. Which TWENTY16 athletes will be competing there?
NICOLA: Junior World Champion Chloe Dygert is back racing with us after her campaign at the Track World Championships [where Dygert, along with Felt athletes Sarah Hammer, Jennifer Valente and Kelly Catlin won the gold medal]. And so she’s super excited to race on the road again. She really enjoyed her track experience, but she really likes the freedom of being outside and racing on the road. She’s also good friends with Kristin Armstrong, so that’ll be exciting to see how their dynamic plays out during the stages at Redlands. Our total roster for Redlands will feature five riders who were in Europe, along with Chloe Dygert, Kristin Armstrong and Jennifer Tetrick. Another one of our more prolific racers, Allie Dragoo, has stayed in Europe to race with the USA Cycling national team.
FELT: What are some of the team’s goals heading into the Redlands Classic?
NICOLA: We’ll go for the GC [general classification, or overall win], but stage wins might happen along the way. We should be getting some podium finishes, for sure. Redlands is an interesting race, as there’s a little bit for everybody. The first stage is a circuit race, and last year Alison Jackson had her breakthrough stage there. That was her first NRC race last year and she won Stage 1. The Oak Glen climb is significant in terms of GC contention, and that’ll be on Stage 2. And there you’ve got riders like our own Kristin Armstrong, along with some of the best climbers in the world, so the racing should be fantastic. The Stage 3 time trial is about seven miles long, and we wish it’d be a little bit longer so it could be a better preparation for the Olympic time trial later this summer. And, of course, we’ve got some great time trialists on our squad, so we’re hoping for a big result on that stage. And then the criterium is on Stage 4, and that’ll come down to a sprint, of course, and there are plenty of teams who have strong sprinters, so that’ll be another exciting stage to watch. And then the legendary Sunset road race wraps things up on Stage 5, which is always exciting to watch. At the end of a long stage race, everyone is feeling incredibly fatigued. But considering that Kristin Armstrong and Chloe Dygert weren’t in Europe, we’re hoping that they’ll still be feeling relatively fresh for that last day.