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A win for Alison Powers and fulfillment for local riders at the Cedar City Grand Prix

August 5, 2014
Alison Powers wins the 2014 Cedar City Grand Prix ahead of Samantha Schneider and Tina Pic

Alison Powers wins the 2014 Cedar City Grand Prix ahead of Samantha Schneider and Tina Pic

Today Cedar City, a Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah host locale, put on its first USA Cycling sanctioned women’s race, the Cedar City Grand Prix, and the world watched a fine selection of elite women cyclists fight for the win over sixty minutes of heated racing in southern Utah. Triple national champion Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team), long-time icons of the sport Tina Pic (DNA Cycling p/b K4) and Laura Van Gilder (Guru), and other national standouts lined up on Main Street alongside Utah’s best elite riders.

A new women’s event means so much to all of the athletes, but this one held special value for the local ladies who usually must travel a good distance to compete with the country’s best. Ogden’s Jennifer Vollmer (Livewell p/b Bountiful Bicycles), for example, normally wouldn’t race with a broken wrist. But she did today, even though she probably knew she would have to pull out before the finish.

Kaytie Scott and Jennifer Vollmer

Kaytie Scott and Jennifer Vollmer

“I did it because it’s the Tour of Utah, and it’s the inaugural [Cedar City Grand Prix] and I don’t know if I’ll ever get this chance again,” Vollmer said. “It’s pretty spectacular to be a part of it. So I had to get in and do it.

“It’s awfully exciting for women to have the chance to race at this level. A lot of us work full-time jobs, have kids, have to manage everything and to be able to come down and throw down and race hard with amazing people like Alison Powers and Coryn Rivera, it’s incredibly exciting.” Vollmer, mother of three, currently works as a newspaper editor for an Air Force base in Arizona. She had to pull out after 25 minutes.

Amy Charity tries to make a run for it in Cedar City

Amy Charity tries to make a run for it in Cedar City

Vollmer’s teammate Kaytie Scott is a respiratory therapist. She’s also from Ogden and made a move to get away early on in the race. So did Vanderkitten’s Amy Charity. Colavita-Fine Cooking, Jet Cycling, Guru, Pepper Palace, and other teams tried to send riders up the road, but the pack kept a tight rein on every breakaway attempt. Each rider who tried to slip away was quickly reabsorbed.

With about five turns around the criterium circuit remaining Pepper Palace set a tough pace at the front, lining out the field to work for their sprinter, Sarah Fader. Teammate Meredith Miller later described a hectic last few laps. “In the last two to three to go things started to get shuffled around and people started swarming. So then I found myself on the front coming in one to go and I was just drilling it as hard as I could up this finishing stretch just to keep it fast and lined out…It was tough because of the wind. It was a little harder to follow wheels than you would expect.”

Pepper Palace takes charge

Pepper Palace takes charge

UnitedHealthcare had arrived with their young sprint superstar Coryn Rivera who just earned the best young rider distinction at La Course by Le Tour de France with her sixth place result. The team had planned to make the day hers and found their way around to the front. But Rivera had disappeared and would finish minutes behind the winner, her teammate Powers.

“Going into one to go, someone ran into my rear wheel and took out three spokes,” Rivera said. “I was hoping to just ride it through the finish, but it just wouldn’t spin through my frame so that was the end of my race…Bad luck happens and it’s unfortunate, but luckily we have a strong team and we were able to pull off the win.”

Powers was positioned as the last rider for Rivera’s lead out. “Scotti [Wilborne] at just under one to go went full gas. Usually with Coryn you don’t ever have to look back and wonder if she’s on the wheel because you just trust that she’s there,” Powers said post-race. “We didn’t look back and then I took my turn for the lead out. I looked between my legs – you can see if there’s a wheel, and there wasn’t a wheel on my wheel.”

At that point Powers knew it was her game to win or lose.

UnitedHealthcare, most aggressive team at the Cedar City Grand Prix, Coryn Rivera on tippy-toes

UnitedHealthcare, most aggressive team at the Cedar City Grand Prix, Coryn Rivera on tippy-toes

“I wanted to win this race so badly, for the team. I don’t care who wins as long as it’s us. It was like, we can’t get beat. So this is it you have to go, you have to go. At one point I looked up and the finish line seemed forever away so I just stopped looking at it and just kept going until I crossed it with my wheel.”

Pic and Team TIBCO / To the Top’s Samantha Schneider had launched their sprints into the uphill finish and headwind as well, and at the line the three women finished within inches of each other, with Schneider second and Pic third.

The Cedar City Grand Prix also awarded sprint competition and most aggressive team prizes. Colavita-Fine Cooking’s Olivia Dillon won the sprint award. UnitedHealthcare came away with the team classification.

Cedar City’s race is one of two new women’s races this week. The Tour of Utah is launching a women’s edition on August 6 at Miller Motorsports Park.

Olivia Dillon won the sprint competition within the Cedar City Grand Prix

Olivia Dillon won the sprint competition within the Cedar City Grand Prix

“Races are stepping up. People are stepping up,” Powers said about the new events. “We wouldn’t have this race if it weren’t for Nicki [Wangsgard], and we wouldn’t have Wednesday’s race if it weren’t for Larry H. Miller and their organization putting on for the women. It’s awesome.”

Wangsgard called Powers months ago to ask what it would take to have the UnitedHealthcare team in the Cedar City race. Powers assured her they’d be there.

The Cedar City race organization ensured local riders would have a chance to ride too. It formed a composite team, Canyon Bicycles. While some on the composite team sat out the final laps, likely they’d agree with Odgen’s Scott who said, “It was an amazing experience. It feels like a good step in the right direction for women’s cycling.”

2014 Cedar City Grand Prix podium (l-r) Samantha Schneider, Alison Powers, Tina Pic

2014 Cedar City Grand Prix podium (l-r) Samantha Schneider, Alison Powers, Tina Pic

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