BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado (VN)—It’s the moments after the finish of Stage 2 of the Colorado Classic women’s race and members of the Rally Pro Cycling team sit in camp chairs eating lunch. One of their teammates, however, is standing atop the podium a few blocks away. Stage and overall winner Sara Poidevin is busy collecting her four leaders jerseys (General Classification, Queen of the Mountains, Points, and Best Young Rider) and waving to fans in this ski town.
Poidevin’s teammates are all too happy to chat about the budding star they call T-1000, a reference to the robot from the “Terminator” movie franchise.
“She’s T-1000, because she’s the robot from the future!” says teammate and fellow Canadian Sara Bergen. “If you’ve seen her ride she’s probably just deadpan face, and robots don’t feel pain so that’s why she decided to put two minutes into the rest of the field today.”
Indeed Poidevin, 21, utterly dominated the race in Breckenridge, dropping the entire women’s peloton on the steep slopes of Moonstone Road. At one point she rode in a pack surrounded by rivals from the UnitedHealthCare squad. Poidevin didn’t panic—instead she simply rode away from the girls in blue, leaving them gasping in her wake. She put nearly two minutes into her chasers in just 20km.
The petite Poidevin is a relative newcomer to the pro peloton—she joined Rally in 2016 after racing in the U23 ranks in Canada. Poidevin grew up in Canmore, Alberta and dabbled in mountain biking. She made the switch to road racing when she was 16, racing for the local bicisport Calgary Cycling Club through 2015. She was sidelined by a fractured ulna at team camp in March of this year, which took her out of many of the early-season races.
But her form, and her physiology, were perfectly suited to the demanding Moonstone climb in Breckenridge. She felt marked because of the QOM points she collected during Thursday’s stage in Colorado Springs, she said. It didn’t matter, because it all came down to pure power on the precipitous climb at altitude.
“I was outnumbered for a long time so I had to play my cards right so I didn’t get warn down by other teams,” Poidevin said at the finish. “I had good confidence going into today after being able to get the QOM points yesterday. I definitely knew I had strong competition so I was ready for a good fight.”
While she may not have the palmarès of a veteran, her teammates and staff could see this win coming based on her pedigree and her strengths.
“I think she understands her strength is there; I just think she’s learning how to use it—utilize herself and play the race,” said Zane Free, the team’s mechanic and someone who’s seen Poidevin progress over the two years she’s been with the team. “We all know she’s the best climber in North America and is going to be one of the better ones in the world, she just has to learn how to use all that. You could see the mistakes she was making last year—attacking at the wrong time, not attacking when she should—but today she went and it was perfect.”
Two years into her professional career, Poidevin is still learning the nuances of pro racing. Her humility and shy nature belie a fierce competitor. She’s a collected person, says Bergen. She keeps things to herself. Yet Bergen and her other teammates let Poidevin know just how talented she is every chance they get.
“We try to let her know how good she is and how much she rips our legs off,” Bergen says. “If she puts those two together I’m sure she has an inkling that she’s a little bit of a terror in the peloton.”
A kinesiology student at the University of Calgary, Poidevin grew up focusing on ballet, until she switched over to road racing as a teenager. Though the two athletic pursuits don’t seem to have much in common, Poidevin still applies what she learned as a dancer to her current life in cycling.
“It taught me how to train properly and the discipline it takes to train hard,” she said.
Poidevin’s reserved personality on the bike is only one side of Poidevin, say her teammates. Bergen and fellow Canadian teammate Allison Beveridge say Poidevin has a biting sense of humor, as well as a tough streak.
“She’s quiet but she has a pretty cutting sense of humor, a little sarcastic streak, she definitely has the attitude which makes her such a great bike rider,” Bergen says. “Pretty much like, ‘What’s the big deal? Toughen up and let’s go.’ She’s one tough cookie. She loves to train and ride her bike fast.”
Her teammates were excited to see Poidevin have the performance they’ve been waiting for. When Poidevin arrived in Breckenridge she says she felt at home—the terrain and landscape aren’t too different from the Canadian Rockies town where she grew up. Moonstone seemed to be a perfect climb for her, with her climber’s power-to-weight ratio.
And, most importantly, she played her cards to perfection. The team’s plan was to have Poidevin make a move on the penultimate lap and see what happened. When Abbey Mickey attacked up the road Poidevin knew it was the perfect situation for her to launch.
“She’s smart and she’s also patient, which was great on this course,” Bergen says. “To be able to keep that composure and be patient throughout was impressive. We had the radios in our ears and we hear that UHC is throwing attacks at her and she’s staying calm and responding to them. It’s freaking outstanding. The future is bright for that one.”