TONGA 2 Road Race - Saturday, July 25, 2020 - Lula, Georgia - 32.79 miles - 2,339 feet of climb
This 4 lap road race was also on the same course as TONGA 1 and same direction including relentless climb know on Strava as “Slog of Death to Uphill Finish” which we climbed 4 times. The race organizer tried to separate the two groups by 10 seconds again which quickly proved futile since the women 4/5 caught the women 1,2,3 within the first couple of miles. It definitely was an interesting moment working our way around the support vehicles to attach to the other group. I was able to hang onto the now larger pack until we hit the “Slog of Death” climb and saw myself and other 4/5 racers slowly drift off the back of the pack. We formed different groups along the way, but I knew my legs were paying me back for my exploits the day before. My goal at that point was to complete the course, collect as many points as I could and to hope to have the legs for the afternoon time trail. Meanwhile, my Sorella teammates continued to race strong, place high and collect points. Melanie King was able to race in the front back as the lone 4/5 in the 1/2/3 pack. (Do I hear Upgrade?) She was so strong and fast that she left the Women 1/2/3 pack somewhere on the “Slog of Death” climb and finished in front of everyone except one lone woman 1/2/3 breakaway racer. Saskia continued her strong racing by placing 4th in women 4/5. Such stellar racing by all.
Melanie said regarding this win/race, “I’m learning each race is unique. Saturday, I had the opportunity to cross the line ahead of the cat 4/5 field and all but one of the cat 1/2/3. With 2 miles to go, the group of cat 1/2/3 slowed down in anticipation of the final steep hill to finish. I was concerned about cat 4/5 catching the group, so I went off the front. Since I was cat 4, they weren’t too concerned. To my surprise, I got far enough ahead to cross the finish banner on my own 30 seconds up. I was a bit of shock and happy to be representing Sorella across the line.”
After the road race, Saskia realized that she had a great shot at 1st overall in the weekend’s omnium points, as well as the TONGA Corratec Omnium points for both weekend. A plan was forming. Melanie had the opportunity to upgrade on the spot to Category 3, but decided to hold off to the end of the weekend since she had an opportunity to help Saskia win Sunday’s race. The plot thickened.