Wilcoxson Crowned US Pro Road Race Champion in Chattanooga
Wilcoxson attacked from a chase group to win the professional women's road race to start things off on Monday. As a lead group of nine riders descended Lookout Mountain for the second and final time, Mara Abbott (Boulder, Colo./Exergy TWENTY16) harnessed her speed to pass the leaders and build a lead as she sped into downtown Chattanooga. However, Abbott was forced to the side of the road in the finishing circuits due to an unfortunate flat tire and the chase group passed her. Wilcoxson was quickly joined by Abbott's teammate, Kristin McGrath (Boise, Idaho/Exergy TWENTY16), and the two worked together through the finishing circuits.
"I think I just saw it (Abbott's flat tire) as an opportunity to drill it," Wilcoxson said. "I was confident in Lauren's (Hall) abilities in the pack behind me. I was confident in her sprint if they brought me back. I just drilled it as hard as I could and tried not to look back."
Wilcoxson took a chance and attacked McGrath, who was unable to counter, allowing the silver medalist in the elite women's race at the 2013 USA Cycling Cyclo-cross National Championships to coast the closing meters across the line. As McGrath faded, the chase group, led by Wilcoxson's teammate Lauren Hall (Dolores, Colo./Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Alison Powers (Pinecliffe, Colo./NOW and Novartis for MS), surged past Saturday's silver medalist McGrath. Hall outkicked Powers, the leader of the women's standings of the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar and Saturday's time trial bronze medalist, to finish second to a teammate for the second year in a row.
"It's an amazing feeling," Hall said. "I think we were close enough to actually see Jade crossing the finish line. Coming around, it was Kristin McGrath and then Alison Powers. Then I just had to make sure I could get through a clean line. Once I could see that I did have a clean line and had enough of a gap to really enjoy the moment -- because these moments are so few and far between -- I really enjoyed it."
Before her unlucky flat tire, Abbott earned 17 points to secure the Queen of the Mountains classification. Abbott won the first sprint, edging Evelyn Stevens (Dennis, Mass./Specialized-lululemon) and placed second to Tayler Wiles (Murray, Utah/Specialized-lululemon) in the second climb. Wiles, who animated the circuits in downtown Chattanooga, earned the Erlanger Children’s Hospital Most Courageous Rider distinction.
"I think you have to be able to have a good attitude about that kind of stuff," Abbott said of her late flat tire. "I think that in many ways, bike racing is like life, stuff happens and you can't control it. You can look back and say, 'Wow! I raced a really good race. I'm really proud of how I raced.' Ultimately, stuff happens, and I've raced for a while and I've had a lot of success. That's the first time that something like that has happened to me that I've had luck play into it. If you look at that, I've been really lucky in the past, and hopefully this will set me up for some future luck and not dwell on it."
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