Mmmm... the sweet taste of Cherry Pie!! (c) JasonPerryPhoto
Vanderkitten-Focus has had its winningest ever start to the season, with Kathleen Billington winning both stages and the Overall Classification in the Bahamas while Ruth Winder picked up the Cherry Pie Criterium trophy in Napa, California yesterday.
Cherry Pie is an important California season opening event, with the recent win list including names such as Tina Pic, Brooke Miller, Megan Guarnier and reigning Swiss National Champion Pascale Schneider.
Vanderkitten-Focus fielded a small squad led by captain Jenn X and including Maura Kinsella, Courtney Dimpel, Vanessa Drigo and Ruth Winder. They would be up against the likes of California teams Stevens Pactimo, Metromint, TIBCO II and Red Racing, whilst International Pro’s from Chirio Forno D’Asolo, Primal Map My Ride, Exergy, Optum Health and NOW-Novartis put some spice in the field.
Maura Kinsella HAWT in her new Smith Pivlock V90s and KASK Vertigo (c)JasonPerryPhoto
Lucky for the VK gals, each rider was on their 2012 Izalco Pro 1.0 Team Issue steed- a bike Courtney Van Dizzle says is “SoFast”.
VK-Focus quickly asserted their authority on the 6 lap, twisty and undulating Crit Circuit in Napa Valley, being active in the front early on as rider after rider tried to break clear from the peloton.
The most dangerous California riders early in the year look to be Emily Kachorek and Liza Rachetto from Primal, along with Pascale Schnider (Exergy) and Olivia Dillon (NOW-Novartis). Luckily the VK’s were able to use their skills to patrol the front and negate any dangerous moves, while Captain Jenn X kept throwing bombs down the road for priem points.
With 8 laps to go Ruth launched a huge attack that saw her gain up to 11 seconds on the charging field, as rider after rider attempted to bridge the gap in the challenging crosswinds. With 4 laps to go Heather Nielsen from Touchstone managed to bridge, but soon after that Ruth was re-absorped into the field.
Sensing a need to change tactics, JennX again attempted to go off the front, but her efforts were negated by the field who could sense the win and smell the Cherry Pie.
ONE LAP TO GO and Courtney is DRILLING IT! (c) JasonPerryPhoto
With a lap to go Courtney van Dizzle, an ever faithful domestique, led the field over the finish line and strung out the bunch. Courtney rounded the U-turn in first and charged down the back straight putting pressure on all the teams. under the 1km to go and Maura Kinsella took over with Ruth steady on her wheel. Maura stomped through the final straight into the last chicane, and then dropped off Ruth with 150 metres from the line. With Swiss National Champ Pascal Schnider on her wheel, Ruth had to kick with everything she had and more, and in the drag to the line managed to even distance 2nd and 3rd place on the podium to throw her hands in the air in front of a jubilant crowd, family and friends. What a win!!!
Ruth outkicks her rivals in the sprint. Pic by Jason Perry Photo
Put your hands in the air for VK-Focus!! (c) JasonPerryPhoto
Big Step for lil' Ruth (c) JasonPerryPhoto
The weekend previous our East Coast USA based Kathleen Billington made a trip out of the Connecticut winter to the sunny Bahamas for the Holowesko Partners Tour of the Bahamas. Kathleen showed her prowess in the small but strong field, winning two stages and the Overall general Classification to show that she is ready to build upon her 4th place at the USA Cycling National Championships in 2011. This kitty aint done yet!
Kathleen Billington #1 at Tour of the Bahamas
Look forward to news soon relating to the March1-7 Vanderkitten-Focus team camp in Los Altos and Scotts Valley, California, including a VIP Team Launch Party!