SMALL PODIUMS FOR 3 OUT OF 5 STAGES, FINISHES 3RD IN G
U.S. National Time Trial champion Carmen Small signed with Cylance Pro Cycling in July, and raced her first event with the team at UCI Cascade Classic from July 20-25th in Bend, OR. Known as one of the sport’s best all-around pro cyclists, Small upheld her stellar reputation at Cascade. She won in the 90mi McKenzie Pass road race, placed 2nd in the 16mi Prineville time trial, and 2nd in the fast-paced, downtown criterium. By the final stage, Small finished 3rd in GC; a remarkable feat for a squad that only had four riders at Cascade.
“It was a success in itself that I’m just racing my bike and enjoying it,” says Small, who recently learned that her arbitration for the Olympics was not granted. The hardship of not making the selection for Rio was physically and emotionally difficult. Small found that racing Cascade to be a cathartic method of coping with her disappointment, as she channeled her energy into the bike for herself and for Cylance Pro Cycling.
“At first, I was kind of numb and didn’t care how the race went,” Small says. “I wasn’t there to prove anything, I was just going through the motions.” Her inner drive came to life toward the end of the first stage, at the base of the notorious ten-mile climb. “Once you see 5km to go, you start thinking, ‘Ok, how am I going to win in this group?’ I was patient, then I went for it. It helped to get me out of this negative space in my mind.”
Indeed it did. Small not only won the first stage, but she outsprinted Canada’s Olympic selection Tara Whitten and U.S. Olympic selection Kristin Armstrong. The next day in the time trial, Small nearly repeated the pattern. She swapped standings with Whitten, finishing 2nd in the TT, but placed ahead of Armstrong, who was selected by USA Cycling for the Rio Olympics. For Small, the moment was big. The time trial podium brought positive energy.
“The TT felt hard. I haven’t done an effort like that in a long time [since nationals]!” Small says. “It was like ripping off a Band-Aid. It’s good to see my form wasn’t too lost, and it as great to see Tara do well. After everything I’ve been through in the past few weeks, I can still perform well at a good level.”
Even with a great road race and time trial under her belt, Small wasn’t done performing. In stage 4, Small showed her skills as a sprinter, finishing 2nd in the exceptionally faced-paced criterium.
“This was my first time racing a crit this year, and it was really fun to get back out there again,” Small says. On the final stage of Cascade—a 49mi circuit race—a gap between Whitten, Armstrong and Small ensued, and Small finished the day with a hard earned 3rd overall in GC. With only three teammates to assist Small over the course of Cascade Classic, the effort to podium in three separate stages was tremendous.
In addition to Small’s great race, teammate Krista Doebel-Hickok finished a solid 4th place in the Mt. Bachelor Road Race. Erica Zaveta did her duties as a domestique, as did Kathryn Bertine, who held strong in her first return to racing since a serious crash in April. “For me, the start lines were the win,” says Bertine, who proudly kitted up for Cylance Pro Cycling for the first time this season. “I’m incredibly proud to work for a teammate like Carmen Small. We’re lucky to have her on board.”
Small looks forward to continuing the rest of the season with her teammates. “I’m certainly excited to do Ride London and finish out the Cylance Pro Cycling season in Europe.”
Next up for Cylance Pro Cycling is the UCI Women’s World Tour Prudential Ride London on July 30th.
Cascade Cycling Classic Final General Classification: 46:53