Beth Newell - 8th GC
The 2011 Merco Cycling Classic included 4 stages over 4 days, all located around Merced, Ca and was an incredibly well run event by first year promoter TopSport Cycling. With almost 45 cat1/2 women starting the event and riders like HTC-Highroad's Ina Yoko-Teutenberg racing, Beth and Susannah would be competing against some of the best female racers in the nation. Thursday started well for the women at the MID Road Race, with beautiful warm weather and a hilly course Susannah and Beth stayed with the front group. Susannah finished 8th on the day just 32 seconds from 1st place and Beth wasn't far behind in 16th.
Friday, the Individual Time Trial was held on a 12 mile course with rolling terrain and both riders knew that the GC would be changing after this event. Unfortunately, Susannah flatted in the final 4k and was given the last riders time. Luckily, Beth had a fantastic ride finishing 8th on the day and also taking over 8th on the GC.
Saturday was the Downtown Grand Prix, 30 laps over a P-shaped course with a 180 degree turn 400 meters from the finish. Despite a lack of enthusiasm for the hair-pin turn, Beth and Susannah agreed that downtown Merced knows how to put on a bike race! Live music, a beer garden, and lots of cheering fans made the course fun and it was also fast.....Beth and Susannah were happy to finish and maintain Beth's placing heading into the final stage.
Sunday was the Almond Blossom Road Race, a 72 mile rolling course with a wickedly fast finish. The good weather had come to an end and the entire race was rain-soaked. Despite numerous break attempts by various teams, eventually it became obvious that the stage would come down to a sprint. Beth stayed out of trouble without loosing any time while Susannah was happy to finish. Congrats to Beth on a top-10 in her first major stage race!