Fresh off of Oxnard training camp, the women of Rally Cycling will start their first race of 2018 tomorrow, the 26th annual Valley of the Sun Stage Race. The three stage race starts in Buckeye, AZ and includes a 14 mile desert time trial, a hilly 62 mile road race, and a seven corner criterium near the state capitol building in downtown Phoenix.
Rally Cycling will start Sara Bergen, Gillian Ellsay, Heidi Franz, and Summer Moak in the Arizona heat.
While the heart of their season is still further down the road, the team is looking to put their early season performers into the action.
“We have a good mix of speed, strength and general racing ability,” said Team Director Zach Bell. “This race is about getting them thinking as one group, and applying meaningful pressure to the field with limited numbers. This will mean being particular – and maybe a bit unconventional – with how they utilize their skills.”
Rally Cycling has numerous student and multi-discipline athletes on the 2018 roster and it’s important to provide the best racing schedule for each athlete at this time of year.
“We use these early season races where appropriate for the riders that need the racing,” said Bell. “We have many riders in different projects and phases of preparation. Some riders are in the track season and some just coming off a strong cyclocross campaign.”
With all four women being strong in the race against the clock, the team will look to place as high as possible in the opening time trial. This will allow them to play their cards in the decisive road race on Saturday. The stage three criterium is one for the sprinters as the general classification teams will look to protect their position in the overall.
For returning rider Bergen, she is eager to join Ellsay, Franz, and Moak for some exciting racing.
“Each athlete is eager to rip it up,” said Sara Bergen. “I believe it’s critical to get these early season races in together in order to build upon the solid foundation we laid at the Oxnard camp. The focus will be on race strategy, planning, communication, and ultimately, execution. We want to make a solid plan and get it done.”
Director: Zach Bell