Monday August 4th history was made as 56 professional female cyclists took to the streets for the first National level criterium bike race in Cedar City, Utah. In conjunction with the Tour of Utah, the Cedar City Grand Prix began after the stage 1 of Tour of Utah raced through town.
“The action will start at the first lap and continue for the entire race.” said Nicky Wangsgard yesterday and her predictions were correct.
The Cedar City Grand Prix featured a flat four corner course in the heart of the city, the race was anything but. Dynamic from start to finish, participants and spectators glowed with excitement. For the entire race, riders were haunted by a 3% grade on the front section, climbing in to a head wind.
Despite the anticipated rain, cheers and applause lined the streets of Cedar City throughout the hour of women’s racing that came down to a sprint finish. In the end it was Alison Powers – United Healthcare Pro Cycling first across the line with Sam Schneider – Team Tibco and then Tina Pic – DNA K4 Cycling just inches from each other with the rest of the field nipping at their tires.
Attacks started from lap one without success. Each rider was pulled back, one by one. Most of the hour of power, United Healthcare and Pepper Palace maintained a gentle control. United Healthcare also took the most aggressive team jersey.
By half way in to the race we were down to 36 riders. “It feels like metal in my lungs.” said Amber Vredenburg of Jet Cycling just one of the many riders to feel the affects of racing at altitude.
“My lungs gave out way before my legs did.” said Heather Nielson of HSP. “I knew this would be the toughest race I would do all season. I’m so proud of Nicky and Cedar City for having this calibre of a race.” she continued. Heather was one of the last riders pulled, lasting over half the distance with her Seattle lungs.
The race was hard and fast for everyone. It was tough to get a breakaway with the false flat on the front stretch, most leads didn’t maintain more than one lap.
Despite a tough day of racing in the wind, the sun and at altitude, smiles weren’t hard to come by post race. Without a doubt the Cedar City Grand Prix was an incredibly successful inaugural event.
In just two days we will all meet again at the Miller Motorsports Park for the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition. You can find the list of teams here. Stay tuned for more phenomenal racing from Utah!
By Sarai Snyder – Boulder, CO