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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (VN) – Jennifer Valente won stage 1 at the Colorado Classic Thursday in a bunch sprint in downtown Colorado Springs to open the two-day race. The Sho-Air Twenty20 rider beat Skylar Schneider (ISCorp) and Emma White (Rally) in a bunch sprint.
Valente was part of the U.S. women’s team pursuit squad that took silver in Rio last summer. She knowns the roads around Colorado Springs well after spending time at the Olympic Training Center in preparation for the Olympics. “Knowing these roads was really an advantage,” Valente said. “[The Garden of the Gods roads] are beautiful.”
1. Jenn Valente (Sho-Air Twent20)
2. Skylar Schneider (ISCorp Powered by Progress)
3. Emma White (Rally Cycling)
4. Heather Fischer (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank)
5. Rebecca Wiasak (Fearless Femme)
6. Lauren Hall (UnitedHealthcare)
7. Samantha Schneider (ISCorp Powered by Progress)
8. Kendelle Hodges (Colavita Bianchi)
9. Sara Bergen (Rally Cycling)
10. Jessica Mundy (Colavita Bianchi)
With a short 38-mile course, that spun two laps around the Garden of the Gods park before embarking on three shorter circuits around downtown, the women’s race featured aggressive racing and high speeds from the gun. Each larger lap included points for the Queen of the Mountains prize, with two sprint points also available on the course.
Rally Cycling controlled the pace early in the race, leading its rider Sara Poidevin to the first QOM of the day, which was less than five miles into the race. Tayler Wiles (UHC) and Flavia Oliveria (Fearless Femme) rounded out the top three.
The pace accelerated as the peloton dove back into town for the first sprint, which came with a three-, two-, or one-second time bonus for the top three. Erika Valera (Conade-Visit Mexico) won the sprint followed by Brianna Walle (Tibco), and Ruth Winder (UHC).
Another large loop saw similar results at the QOM with Poidevin securing her lead in the competition. The peloton splintered slightly over the top of the climb with 15 miles of racing remaining. A dangerous group of six riders including Wiles, Allie Dragoo (Sho-Air), and Heather Fischer (Tibco) broke free of the peloton, gaining a small lead heading into the second sprint point of the day.
“There was a significant gap,” Fischer said after the race. “But since Rally didn’t have a sprinter in it, I knew Rally would bring that back, or they would try.” As Fischer predicted, Rally drove the peloton toward downtown and the small group was absorbed before the second sprint.
Beth Anne Orton of the Amy D. Foundation team took the second sprint of the day with Winder nabbing second and Fischer third. After completing the second large loop of the day, the race transitioned into three small finishing loops. UnitedHealthcare drove the pace but mistimed the long sprint finish, opening the door for Valente to take the first stage of the Women’s Colorado Classic.
Valente, a native of San Diego, CA, is known more for her exploits on the track than on the road. She recently won the UCI world championships as part of the United States’ team pursuit squad. Valente has also shown her ability to win sprints. In July she won Idaho’s Boise Twilight Criterium.
Standing after Stage 1
Gates GC Leader: Jenn Valente (Sho-Air Twent20)
Helix Best Young Rider: Skylar Schneider (ISCorp Powered by Progress)
Drink Rino Sprint Leader: Jenn Valente (Sho-Air Twenty20)
Colorado Tourism QOM Leader: Sara Poidevin (Rally Cycling)
Acura Best Colorado Rider: Ruth Winder (UnitedHealthcare)
1st Bank Most Aggressive Rider: Beth Anne Orton (Amy D. Foundation)