They called for 100% chance of rain in the forecast, and they predicted correctly. It was raining from the moment I woke up at 6am, and it's still coming down. This is not typical southern California weather! The office was open though; the race was still on, and we were ready.
To be honest, the rain didn't faze us. Champion Systems has given us enough clothing to be comfortable in any type of condition, that's no exaggeration. I hardly have room in my closet for all of it! Today's combination for most of my teammates including myself was a Champion Systems jersey, winter arm warmers, sleeveless baselayer and a translucent rain jacket. Those jackets are nice because the race numbers show through, meaning we don't have to take it off before crossing the finish line. I had my Mavic rain shoe covers over my yellow shoes as well. I felt fine, and a bit like a warrior. I always do when I'm well dressed for inclement weather.
Jeremy oiled up our legs before the race. Oil is nice in the rain because it creates a barrier between the skin and the rain which helps keep warm, believe it or not. The difference is huge.
My teammate Joëlle (5th in GC at the beginning of the day) got off the front early in a break with three other riders: Kristen Armstrong (1st GC), Clara Hughes (2nd GC) and Alison Powers (7th GC). This meant we didn't chase, we sat in the pack, hoping for the best outcome for Joëlle in the final sprint.
There were a few crashes today. One time, I saw a pair of orange glasses fly across the road. It made me sick to my stomach because they looked like our Lazer glasses. I was sure that one of my teammates went down. Later, I realized all of the Optum Pro Cycling girls had kept the rubber side down. Thank you Challenge tires.
(What we were all most impressed with was our wheel and tire combination.
Our Head Stinger carbon wheels with the Challenge tubular tires that
our mechanic, Adrian, glued on a couple of days ago gripped the soaking
corners without hesitation. Adrian fine-tuned the pressure in the tires
to suit today's conditions, and put a little less pressure than normal.)
The break ended up gaining over 5 minutes on the field. The race officials decided that instead of 8 laps, the race would end at 7. The message had been conveyed to field early enough so that all of the girls were aware of the change by 0.5 laps-to-go. Except for the ones in the break...
The officials decided that the results for the 4 riders in the breakaway would be determined by the order that they crossed the finish line at lap 7 as well. The only problem was that this decision was made when the riders had already began riding lap 8. There was no real sprint, which is unfortunate for my teammate Joëlle, who's specialty is sprinting. Joëlle was given 3rd place.
So, the finish of the race was a bit confusing but we went home satisfied with how we handled the day, and proud of Joëlle's performance. There is one more stage left tomorrow, the criterium which will be lots of fun. Let's hope the weather clears up, but even if it doesn't, I'm confident that the Optum riders will be just fine.