Alison Powers Doubles Up at US Pro Championships, Earns Road Race Title for UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team started the US Women’s National Championship Road Race in Chattanooga, Tennessee today with three riders – Mara Abbott, Katie Hall, and newly celebrated national time trial champion, Alison Powers. Each of the riders was a podium threat on the challenging course and brought immense talent and ability to the roster. Abbott made her mark on the race early, winning the first queen of the mountains competition. Hall then launched a solo attack at 60 kilometers into the 104.8-kilometer race, claiming the win in the second queen of the mountains competition. She fought fiercely on the front of the race until Specialized-Lululemon rider Tayler Wiles bridged up and joined her with 24 kilometers remaining.
Hall strategically sat on the wheel of Wiles, knowing that teammates Mara Abbott and Alison Powers were positioned in the chase group, prepared to fight when the race came back together. Katie Hall followed closely and diligently, matching every effort from the attacking Wiles. Alison Powers took up the chase with 3 riders, closing the gap to Wiles and the waiting Katie Hall. At 10 kilometers to go, Powers launched a massive attack out of the chase group, overtaking the previous breakaway and gaining an advantage on her chase companions in the process. With a gap of only a few seconds, Powers unleashed her time trial form and motored through the final circuits with the national title on the line. She crested the final “wall” climb with her advantage intact and put her head down for the final 6 kilometers. The blistering pace set by Powers reduced the chase group to just two rivals: Megan Guarnier and Evelyn Stevens. Powers held her advantage through the finishing arch, triumphantly crossing the line with a huge smile and 15 seconds to spare. The performance today made history as Powers is the only woman to simultaneously hold the US national championship jersey in all three disciplines: Friday’s 2014 time trial and today’s 2014 road race, in addition to the current 2013 national criterium title which she will have the opportunity to defend in September. Mara Abbott earned the queen of the mountains title for her efforts on the steep climbs while teammate and main aggressor Katie Hall claimed 5th place in the finale.
In the meeting before the race, the team discussed not only strategy and tactics but also motivation— the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team would race for their teammate, Jackie Crowell. Crowell was not able to join the team in Tennessee, as she was diagnosed with brain cancer earlier this year. The grand prize offered to the national champion was the 1-year lease of a brand new car from the event’s sponsor, Volkswagen. The team decided that if all went according to plan and they won the race, they would donate the grand prize to Jackie Crowell. In the awards ceremony, Alison had a message for her teammate, “This is Jackie Crowell’s car because she’s such an amazing teammate and she’s not able to be here with us. Jackie, thanks for being awesome; we miss you.”
Regarding the race, Powers added, “Today is amazing and really special. To make history and win a car for Jackie is a dream come true. It was a real team effort and I’m proud of Mara and Katie.”
Sports Director Rachel Heal summarized, “This was another incredible team performance. We knew going into the race that we were outnumbered, but we were also confident that we had the strength and savvy to pull off something special. The riders raced to absolute perfection. They were patient at the start when it was needed. Mara made the call to have Katie attack on the climb, and then Katie rode with the strength that we knew she had, but also with the maturity and tactical savvy that shows just how far she’s come in the past few months. Alison had the confidence and sheer determination needed to stay clear and solo in for a very sweet victory. It was a full team effort and truly a team victory for the riders and for the staff members, such as Tavis and Adrian. We’re all proud to be part of the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train.”