Events

Swedish champ Emilia Fahlin wins a wet Amgen women’s criterium in Santa Rosa

Twenty-year-old Swedish national champion Emilia Fahlin (Team Columbia - High Road) received the perfect lead-out from veteran teammate, Kim Anderson, as she took the sprint win from a 13-woman break in the Amgen Tour of California’s Women’s Criterium in downtown Santa Rosa on Sunday. This put her two steps higher than she was on the podium at least year’s inaugural race just ahead of second placed Lauren Tamayo (Team Tibco) and Rachel Lloyd (Proman).

By Kathie Reid

2009 Amgen women's criterium: Team Columbia-High Road's Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Colavita's Tina Pic at the call-up.

2009 Amgen women’s criterium: Team Columbia-High Road’s Ina-Yoko Teutenberg and Colavita’s Tina Pic at the call-up.

Photo: Kathie Reid

Twenty-year-old Swedish national champion Emilia Fahlin (Team Columbia – High Road) received the perfect lead-out from veteran teammate, Kim Anderson, as she took the sprint win from a 13-woman break in the Amgen Tour of California’s Women’s Criterium in downtown Santa Rosa on Sunday.

This put her two steps higher than she was on the podium at least year’s inaugural race just ahead of second placed Lauren Tamayo (Team Tibco) and Rachel Lloyd (Proman).

In a field that included some of the world’s best sprinters, including Ina-Yoko Teutenberg (Team Columbia-High Road), Laura Van Gilder (Sugar CRM), and last year’s winner and current U.S. national champion, Brooke Miller, perhaps no one was more surprised than the break that they managed to stay away from the field from barely 15 minutes into the 60-minute race.

2009 Amgen women's criterium: Fahlin was awarded a yellow jersey for the win.

2009 Amgen women’s criterium: Fahlin was awarded a yellow jersey for the win.

Photo: Kathie Reid

Foul weather not deterrent

Even with consistently wet roads due to intermittent rain, high winds, and temperatures in the mid-40s, the 120-woman field put on a show for the crowds that race director Laura Charameda said were “three, four, five people thick” around the entire course.

Fahlin was completely unfazed by the weather. “I don’t really mind riding in this kind of weather, when it’s just an hour or so. I think other people get more harmed in these kind of conditions than I do. So I enjoy it out there.”

The initial break came early in the race, as Katheryn Mattis (Webcor Builders), Tamayo, and Fahlin separated from the field just four laps in. Their gap grew to 25 seconds fairly quickly as they were eventually joined by 10 others. Eight teams in all were represented, and riders included Tamayo and Team Tibco teammate Meredith Miller; Kristin McGrath and Robin Farina (Value Act Capital); Olivia Dillon and Sarah Bamberger (Touchstone Climbing); Fahlin and Anderson; Mattis; Kelly Benjamin (Colavita / Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light); Lloyd; and Jenifer Reither (Vanderkitten Racing).

2009 Amgen women's criterium: Team Columbia-High Road's Fahlin on the podium.

2009 Amgen women’s criterium: Team Columbia-High Road’s Fahlin on the podium.

Photo: Kathie Reid

While the break built a gap that maxed out at almost one minute to the field and was most often around 30 seconds, the group wasn’t taking any chances. “There were actually quite a few attacks from the break,” Farina explained. “It was pretty animated in the break, and there was a pretty large group of us, so we knew that we didn’t want to take all of us to the line.”

Tamayo was one of the players who kept the break on their toes. She said that she initially thought they would get reeled in, as it took a while for the break to gel. “I kept attacking to try to ride away by myself, but it wasn’t meant to be. So I just focused on the finish for the sprint.” Teammate Miller attacked with one lap to go, and Tamayo said, “It was actually perfect because it set it up nicely. I had good positioning, and it kept it nice and fast coming into the finish.”

Lloyd, current Super D National Champion and third at the U.S. cyclocross nationals, is used to racing in adverse weather conditions but was surprised to find herself in a successful break.

“I didn’t realize it was a break until halfway through,” she said while waiting for the podium. “I was following attacks and doing some not-so-good little attacks, thinking we were keeping it fast so our sprinter would be there.”

When she finally did realize she was part of a large successful break, she also realized she was without teammates, and figured her best bet was to try to have a good finish. “We had a tailwind coming out of that last turn, so it was really fast. We just kind of held our position.”

Anderson pulls it off for Fahlin

Fahlin agreed that there were “attacks going all the time” from the break. When Team Tibco’s Miller jumped with roughly one lap to go, Fahlin said Anderson “just pulled it off and reeled her in.”

2009 Amgen women's criterium: The podium (l to r) Lauren Tamayo, Emilia Fahlin, and Rachel Lloyd.

2009 Amgen women’s criterium: The podium (l to r) Lauren Tamayo, Emilia Fahlin, and Rachel Lloyd.

Photo: Kathie Reid

Anderson gave her a textbook lead-out. “It was great. She just did everything,” a beaming Fahlin said while trying to stay warm just after the podium presentation. “Kim went out and kept on going, and pulled me off with half the finishing straight to go. I just did my sprint. I didn’t see anybody. It was just a pull-off.”

Having just arrived in the States on Wednesday from the inaugural women’s Tour of Qatar, Fahlin is thrilled with her first win of the season. “I think Qatar was a really, really good start to wake up my body for the races here.”

Team owner Bob Stapleton agrees. “She’s one of the bright new stars of women’s cycling,” he said. “And I’m glad she had a chance here to show her talent in California at such a big event.”

With a team stacked with talent who could have taken the win themselves, Stapleton felt Fahlin’s win was a rousing testament to the women’s dedication to each other.

“It was a great team victory,” he said, complimenting Anderson’s work in the break — “She’s an incredible workhorse. She’s over 40 years old, so that’s an inspiration to every woman cyclist. She’s teammate extraordinaire.” — as well as Teutenberg’s willingness to stay with the field and see what happened.

“I think Ina probably could have got up there herself, but she was in a good position to sit back also … (the teamwork) really shows, I think, how great these women work together, and are selfless teammates really looking for the team success, and not just themselves.”

And though the women’s race had been pared down to just one day from it’s originally scheduled three-day stage race, Charameda is optimistic about the race’s future.

“The underlying goal of AEG is to make the women’s race grow. They’ve worked hard to have us be a part of it. I’m glad we remained a part of it even when the situation arose that they had to scale back … The ultimate goal is still to grow this into a big international UCI race, and I think we have the support within AEG to do that.”

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Emila Fahlin Team Columbia Highroad Wm
2. Lauren Tamayo Team Tibco
3. Rachel Lloyd Proman
4. Karla Kingsley Sugar Crm
5. Sarah Bamberger Touchstone Climbing
6. Kelly Benjamin Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
7. Kristen Mcgrath Valueact Capitol Cycling Team
8. Olivia Dillion Touchstone Climbing
9. Katheryn Mattis Webcor Builders Cycling Team
10. Robin Farina Valueact Capitol Cycling Team
11. Jenifer Reither Vanderkitten
12. Kim Anderson Team Columbia Highroad Wm
13. Meridith Miller Team Tibco
14. Ina Teutenberg Team Columbia Highroad Wm
15. Brooke Miller Team Tibco
16. Gina Grain Webcor Builders Cycling Team
17. Martina Patella Valueact Capitol Cycling Team
18. Vanessa Drigo Hopkins Honda
19. Mary Maroon Vanderkitten
20. Laura Van Gilder Sugar Crm
21. Alexandra Wrubleski Team Columbia Highroad Wm
22. Mary Ellen Ash Sugar Crm
23. Jenifer Wilson Vanderkitten
24. Kristen Drumm Kd Enterprises
25. Tina Pic Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
26. Helene Drumm Proman Hit Squad
27. Janel Robertson Metromint Cycling
28. Amy Dombroski Webcor Cycling Team
29. Amber Rais Team Tibco
30. Yukie Nakamura Metromint Cycling
31. Cari Higgins Proman
32. Anna Davenport Zeitgeist/ultimate Fit
33. Kristen Meshberg Bh Usa
34. Carol Irving Touchstone Climbing
35. Starla Teddergreen Sugar Crm
36. Emily Zell Valueact Capitol Cycling Team
37. Jadine Riley Team Group Health
38. Lauren Hecht Webcor Cycling Team
39. Patricia Bailey Wines Of Washington
40. Liza Rachetto Sugar Crm
41. Nicole Evans Webcor Builders Cycling Team
42. Rebecca Much Webcor Builders Cycling Team
43. Christina Ruiter Valueact Capitol Cycling Team
44. Heather Logan Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
45. Shontell Gauthier Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
46. Erica Allar Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
47. Lindsey Meyers Sugar Crm
48. Rae Brownsberger Webcor Alto Velo
49. Alison Rosenthal Tibco
50. Melissa Sanborn Vanderkitten
51. Alison Starnes Team Tibco
52. Erinne Willock Webcor Builders Cycling Team
53. Stacy Marple Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
54. Nichole Wangsgard Colavita Sutter-Home/cooking Lt
55. Mara Abbott Team Columbia Highroad Wm
56. Kristen Sanders Valueact Capitol Cycling Team