ASPEN, Colorado (VN) — Jade Wilcoxson (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) took the Blue Ribbon Alpine Challenge on Wednesday afternoon, using her team smartly and employing a remarkable finishing kick to overcome rival Alison Powers (NOW-Novartis for MS) in a criterium held in downtown Aspen.
“It was going from the gun. It was really, really hard. It was just attack, attack, attack,” Wilcoxson said. “We wanted to put on a good show for everybody, and I think we did that.”
Wilcoxson used her four Optum teammates to perfection over the Aspen parcours in a light drizzle, and had to overcome a fierce Powers in the final 200 meters. Leah Kirchmann (Optum) rounded out the podium in third.
“We started to get together our lead-out train coming into the last lap, and then Alison attacked really hard. I was towards the front, so I was able to jump on her wheel. She and I did the last lap together. I was sitting on her wheel. At about 200 meters to go, I attacked off her wheel and just held it to the finish,” Wilcoxson said.
The one-day race marks a shift from last year’s three-day event. This race was initially planned for three, but two days were canceled due to sponsorship issues. That was no matter for the field.
“This is a great race. Hopefully next year we can go back to three days. But, having one day, we’re really stoked to be out here in Aspen. But the crowds help a ton,” Wilcoxson said.
The race started fast, and the eventual winner wasn’t sure she’d be able to hang onto an eager peloton.
“When we hit 30 minutes, I thought I was in trouble. I had to give myself a little pep talk, just tell myself to chill out a little bit,” she said. “We wanted to put on a good show. … Thankfully, my teammates and I had it for the finish.”
She’s out of Talent, Oregon, and heads next to the TD Mayor’s Cup in Boston on September 22.