Amgen teams arrive in South Lake Tahoe ahead of race |

Amgen teams arrive in South Lake Tahoe ahead of race

The Drops Cycling team. Pictured, L-R: Annie Simpson; rider Lizzie Holden; rider Hannah Payton; rider Abi Van Twisk; and rider Martina Ritter.
J.P. Kelsey / Tahoe Daily Tribune
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Over the past few days, teams that will be competing the Amgen Breakaway from Heart Disease Women’s Race have been arriving in South Lake Tahoe. At a meet and greet held at Sprouts Café Tuesday, the Tribune had a chance to catch up with some of the teams and discuss how they are preparing for such an exhaustive race.

One of the first things athletes of all sports have to keep in mind is adjusting to Lake Tahoe’s altitude. “The race we did before our last one was in Silver City, New Mexico, which is at about 6,000 feet,” said Rachel Heal, UnitedHealthcare women’s team sporting director. “Different athletes react differently to [the altitude] and some acclimate quicker than others.”

Tomorrow’s stage one portion of the race will circumnavigate 72.7 miles around the lake and athletes will ride through elevations that reach 7,000 feet in some areas.

According to Heal, the team usually stays in pretty good shape during the racing season — which runs from January through September.

As far as training goes, team members say they like to keep things simple and not overthink.

“We’ll get our training in then we’ll rest,” said UnitedHealthcare rider Tayler Wiles. “Then we’ll eat a lot and that’s about it.” This is Wiles second time competing in the full Amgen race at Lake Tahoe, but this will be her first time to do so as a UnitedHealthcare member.

Team members also say that since there are so many elite athletes that compete in races like Amgen, they have to stay on top of their game.

“This is a women’s world tour event so it’s a top ranking event and you get some tough international riders here,” said UnitedHealthcare rider Lauretta Hanson. “The courses here reflect the level of athletes that will be competing. There’s a good variety so there’s going to be some good racing.”

One of the more recently assembled teams is Drops Cycling — a United Kingdom-based team formed in 2016. Although the team is new, many of their riders have been professional cyclists for several years.

“We just finished up with our practice ride,” said Drop Cycling rider Lizzie Holden. “The course is challenging, but we’re getting used to everything and looking forward to getting out there with the other riders.”

Stage 1 begins at the Heavenly California base Lodge, Thursday at 10:40 a.m. Stage 2 will begin from the same location, Friday at 10:25 a.m.


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