The TWENTY16 Ridebiker powered by Sho-Air professional women’s cycling team kicked off its 2016 racing season at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race near Phoenix, Arizona. The three-day event, which ran February 12-14, saw TWENTY16 athletes put in a dominating performance. Allie Dragoo won the opening stage time trial in impressive fashion, beating out two-time U.S. National Champion Evelyn Stevens. TWENTY16 riders Leah Thomas and Alison Jackson placed 3rd and 5th in the time trial, respectively.
The second stage featured a 62-mile road race, and TWENTY16’s Alison Jackson proved the strongest on the day, beating out the field and maintaining a 5th place position on general classification (GC). Allie Dragoo, Jackson’s TWENTY16 teammate and the overall leader heading into the second day’s road race, finished strong for an 8th place on the day, enough to keep her overall lead heading into the final day of racing.
The final day of the Valley of the Sun Stage Race featured a fast, 40-minute criterium. And, once again, TWENTY16 rider Alison Jackson proved the strongest rider of the day, beating out the field in an exciting sprint finish. With the time bonuses she gained for winning the third stage, Jackson climbed to 4th place in the general classification standings. TWENTY16’s Leah Thomas was impressive throughout the three days of racing, eventually earning second place overall in the general classification. But the rider who started off the event strongest with her win at the opening time trial, Allie Dragoo, capped off an incredible weekend for the TWENTY16 team by securing the overall victory.
Other notable results for the TWENTY16 squad at the 2016 Valley of the Sun Stage Race include Sofia Arreola’s fourth place finish on the Stage 2 road race, as well as development rider Holly Breck’s fourth place finish in the Stage 3 criterium.
We caught up with both Alison Jackson and Allie Dragoo to find out more about their team’s stellar early season performances at the Valley of the Sun Stage Race.
TWENTY16’s Alison Jackson won two out of the three stages at the 2016 Valley of the Sun Stage Race, and secured 4th place in the general classification.
TALKING TACTICS WITH TWENTY16’s ALISON JACKSON
FELT: Tell us about the time trial during the first stage of the Valley of the Sun Stage Race.
ALISON: This is my second time racing the Valley of the Sun Stage Race. Last year at the time trial, I got a flat tire just past the turnaround point. So I didn’t even get to finish. Going into the event this year, we wanted to take home the overall win, for sure. That was our main goal. And we were pretty confident going in that we’d be able to take some stage wins.
FELT: What time trial bike do you race on?
ALISON: Our team rides the Felt DA time trial bike. And at our team camp the week before, we were able to make some little adjustments to our fits and setups. The course at Valley of the Sun really suited a good aero position on the bike, as well as an aero frame. And the DA is proven in the wind tunnel, and it’s really just a sweet bike.
FELT: Tell us about your Felt road bike.
ALISON: I ride the Felt ZW, and I think there’s two of us who ride that model. The rest are on the Felt F1. The ZW is a really good bike for me, personally. I visited Felt Bicycles headquarters in Irvine, California, and I asked a lot of question about the F1 and the ZW. The ZW is a great fit for me because it handles really well, it’s nice and flowy. The F1 has a little more aggressive geometry, and so I know that it would be a good option for many riders when it comes descending and other things, but I’ve never had a problem with my ZW. It’s a frame with a little more upright positioning, and to get a little lower position, I use a negative 6-degree stem. I’m really looking forward to using it in Europe in some races with lots of climbing.
FELT: Walk us through the road race on Stage 2. How were you able to pull off such an impressive win?
ALISON: There was another big team at Valley of the Sun, DNA Pro Cycling, which had I think around 11 riders. During the road race, they kept trying to put girls in the breaks, and all we needed to do was take the time bonuses at the QOM point and at the finish line in order to secure Allie Dragoo’s general classification lead. There were two girls from DNA and one of my teammates off the front. We just kept that breakaway at a safe distance, and we brought it back together so we could go for the stage win in a final sprint. We just kept reeling it back, and then we were inside the last kilometer when we caught the break and took the win.
FELT: How did the Stage 3 criterium play out for you and the team?
ALISON: It was a short criterium, only 40 minutes long. So the pace was high and the speeds were fast. There were a lot of different attacks. We didn’t need to be aggressors at all, though. We knew we could follow any of the other teams’ moves and stay together. And during the last lap, we just used the DNA lead-out train. I think I was about fourth wheel coming into the final turns and was able to take the win.
FELT: Did the team feel any pressure to perform well at a race so early in the season?
ALISON: I don’t think there was too much pressure on us. During the first race with a new team makeup, you just want to try and minimize mistakes. But we mesh well and we communicate well. And I think being able to trust your teammates and know that you have teammates that are willing to lose in order for you to win is key.
FELT: What is your next race?
ALISON: The Chico Stage Race. After that, we’ll be racing at the Tour of Murrieta, and then we’ll be traveling off to Europe. Last year at Chico, we took home the young riders’ jersey, the overall win and the points jersey. So going back this year, we’d like to defend those titles.
FELT: What’s your biggest goal of the 2016 racing season?
ALISON: My biggest goal is to make the Canadian team for the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. My fitness is looking good, and we’ll see what we can do in Europe, and that’ll be the decider.
At the 2016 Valley of the Sun Stage Race, TWENTY16’s Allie Dragoo won the opening time trial and held the leader’s jersey throughout the race.
CATCHING UP WITH TWENTY16’s ALLIE DRAGOO
FELT: Tell us about the opening time trial at Valley of the Sun.
ALLIE: The time trial was an out-and-back course, about 14 miles. And it was slightly uphill on the way out with a tailwind with a headwind on the way home, which is good for me. My team has some pretty solid time trialists, so I knew we’d have some people near the top of the general classification standings. I went last, and [two-time U.S. National Time Trial Champion] Evelyn Stevens started 30 seconds ahead of me. So I used her as sort of a rabbit to chase. I passed a few other people, and I just tried to maintain my speed and stay smooth. I got through the turnaround corner really well and kept my flow pretty smooth. I could see Evelyn pretty much the whole time, but I wasn’t sure how much the time difference between us was. But when I crossed the finish line, I ended up beating her by 5 seconds. She’s a great cyclist and a really nice person, and she came up and congratulated me afterwards.
FELT: After your win in the time trial, you had the overall lead heading into the next day’s road race. Was there any kind of pressure on you to do well and retain the lead?
ALLIE: I try not to worry about those things too much. Each day of racing kind of plays out on its own. And I can control myself, and I have the teammates that are willing to do what I ask when I’m in that overall race leader role. So I just tried to stay calm. It was an important road race because on the second lap there were time bonuses, so I knew I had to try and stay ahead of Evelyn Stevens and the other potential GC competitors. And we won the stage and I finished ahead of Evelyn. I knew what I had to do, and I knew that the goal of the team was to win the stage, and I’m happy we were able to do that.
FELT: How did the final day of racing play out?
ALLIE: During the criteruim, our stragety was pretty much the same thing as the day before—win the stage and keep me in the leader’s jersey. We have a really solid team. We went up against another team that had 11 riders. I made sure to stay out of trouble, and I did my best to help my teammate Alison Jackson, and she made her way to the finish in first place.
FELT: What does your training look like over the next few weeks leading into the Chico Stage Race?
ALLIE: This week I’ll still be training hard and riding my Felt DA time trial bike in order to keep ensuring that my fit is comfortable. I’m pretty sure that next week I’ll be resting a bit more. Chico is a three-day race with four stages. The first day is a circuit race that’s really hard. The second day is a 90-mile road race, which will be the longest race I’ve ever done professionally. And then the time trial and the criterium are on the final day, Sunday.
The General Classification podium at the 2016 Valley of the Sun Stage Race featured TWENTY16 riders Allie Dragoo, Leah Thomas and Alison Jackson placing 1st, 2nd and 4th place, respectively.
2016 VALLEY OF THE SUN STAGE RACE RESULTS
STAGE 1 – TIME TRIAL
STAGE 2 – ROAD RACE
STAGE 3 – CRITERIUM
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (GC)
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