Carmen Small wins women’s circuit race at Amgen Tour of California

Small takes the victory in a fast circuit race marked by attacks, counters and a bunch sprint to the line

Carmen Small (Specialized-lululemon) sprinted to victory in the women’s circuit race at the Amgen Tour of California on Sunday.

The hourlong race was run on a wide, windswept, four-corner course around the Capitol Building in Sacramento.

“The first half of the race was pretty animated,” Small said. “I felt the wind throughout the start/finish area, and it’s a long sprint, so you had to keep that in mind.”

The action was hot from the start, with first Amelia Tanner (Jet Cycling), then Evelyn Stevens (Specialized) launching attacks from the gun.

And the aggression continued throughout on the fast 2km circuit, with punchy efforts from the Canadian national team, Spy-Giant Ride, Specialized, Twenty16 and Colavita-Fine Cooking.

But UnitedHealthcare kept a tight leash on the race, and with eight laps remaining, though the attacks and counters continued as riders tried escapes or sought primes, nobody was getting away.

In the final laps the sprinters’ teams formed up at the front, and with three to go Colavita and UnitedHealthcare were prominent at the head of affairs.

As the bell rang for one lap to go Specialized’s Tayler Wiles led the bunch across the line, with Small locked tight to her wheel. But U.S. criterium champion Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare) was there, too. And Tibco-To the Top was moving forward as well, along with Colavita.

In the finale, Powers hit the front and drilled it up the right-hand side, but Small went full gas up the left for the win. Coryn Rivera (UnitedHealthcare) finished second with Brianna Walle (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) third.

“That lap is long, so you had to be patient,” River said. “There were a lot of people fighting for my teammates’ wheels, so I was surfing off of other people’s wheels, trying not to use up too much energy. I was a little too far back coming out of the final turn.”