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With Master’s degree, Katie Hall focuses solely on racing

American Katie Hall has spent her entire pro career, which started in 2014, juggling school and racing. Now, racing is her focus.

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SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, California (VN) — Katie Hall has waited a few years, but she’s finally ready to race her bike — and only race her bike.

After recently completing her master’s program in molecular toxicology at the University of California, Berkeley as well as relocating from Oakland to Saratoga, Hall is pedaling free. She’s not worried about her husband’s previous lengthy work commute. Nor is she immersed in her educational specialty, causes of childhood leukemia.

“I’m focusing on my racing, at least for right now,” said Hall with a smile that spread across her face and defined relief. “My husband is riding his bike to work and I am riding my bike in the area’s hills.”

Hall’s ability to fully race will have a double focus during the four-day women’s Tour of California. She tallied the first stage race win of her three-year pro career in January. But the UnitedHealthcare rider is now returning to form after subsequent crashes in Europe stalled her momentum.

Hall, 29, is also competing in the Tour of California in support of teammate Coryn Rivera’s advancement.

“In America, our Olympic spots aren’t determined yet, so the outcome here will affect who gets to go to the Summer Olympics,” said Hall. “And I think it will for a lot of other countries, too. I’m not on the long team, but Coryn is, so we are focused on getting her in a good position.”

“I think she is still developing as a rider. She’s still pretty young. She started as a sprinter, but she has a lot of power. But she also has more determination and more fight than almost anybody I know. She will just not give up. I think that goes a long way. I think as she develops, she’ll be hard to beat in any kind of race.”

Hall’s cycling success began in 2013. While in the early stages of her advanced collegiate studies, she began winning amateur races throughout Northern California. She turned pro in 2014 and has since balanced racing with her advanced studies.

In late January, Hall claimed the climbers’ fifth stage of the six-day Tour Femenino de San Luis in Argentina. It was her debut win after a second-place overall result at the Tour of the Gila last season.

“It’s had its up and downs, for sure,” Hall said of her season. “I started off with my first GC [win] and then we went to Europe for a long time and it was rougher in Europe. I had a couple of crashes. I’m healed up and ready to hit it again. This is one of my favorite races, so I’m really excited.”

Like the rest of the women’s peloton, Hall embraces the bigger women’s Tour of California, but would she would prefer more expansion.

“It’s a good stepping stone,” said Hall, who won the event opening stage last year, the second of her three season wins, and finished fourth overall. “I always want more as a GC rider. And as a climber, I always want more of kind of epic courses, like the day we have in Santa Rosa and the day in Tahoe. Those are the kind of races that I love.

“This event started [in 2010] with a flat crit, which is cool and a lot of people like that, too. But as it becomes a bigger, longer, harder race, I’m pumped.”