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GA State Championship - Sorella does it again!

Melanie King

The Georgia State Championship in Brooks, Georgia, showcased all around amazing team work by Sorella! I have to be honest, I was extremely nervous leading up to this race. I had just been upgraded to Cat 3 and wanted to represent well (Do the nerves lessen with more races under my belt? I can only hope 😊). I was incredibly happy to see the Sorella team tent when we pulled up that morning. There’s something calming and reassuring about it. Thank you to Saskia Hoppe, Mat Jenkinson, Libby Brown, Henry Zuver, Michelle Hollberg and Peanut (🐕😊) for setting it up.

Last minute hints, tips and tactics
Four strong Sorella were competing in the road race. Kim Nelson and I for Cat 3. Saskia Hoppe and Diane Schleicher for Cat 4/5. The race was 3 loops totaling approximately 34 miles. We were happy to learn all of the women would start together. This meant opportunity for race strategy!!! Saskia and I first hand experienced the advantage and fun of working together as a team at TONGA where she went on to place first in the Corratec points competition for both weekends!! This was the first time I’ve gotten to race with Kim Nelson who has many years of racing experience and knowledge. Her calmness at the start of the race was invaluable to me. Thank you Kim!

Off we went!! I immediately went to the front to pull and to test out my legs. We settled into a good pace with other riders sharing the lead. The only Cat 1 who was entered in the race, made an attack on one of the first hills. We did our best to respond but were not able to bridge. We did keep her in our sights knowing that the peloton could bring her back if we all worked together. In a crazy race mishap, one of the lead out trucks accidentally ran her off the road into the grass. She wasn’t hurt but later we learned she decided to call it a day.

Sorella controlling the peloton through lap 1
Kim Nelson worked her magic with the peloton, encouraging all of the girls to work together in a pace line. I have to admit, everyone was great about taking turns at the front. Heading into lap 2, Kim Nelson pulled up to Saskia and I with a potential attack plan. During the pace line rotation, I would attack off the front with Saskia on my wheel. Kim would then come through and hold the peloton while Saskia and I rotate our pulls to get a good gap. On the third lap, I saw an opportunity. The girls rotating off the front had reached for their water bottles. I attacked with Saskia on my wheel. I went off the front and Saskia came around for a second big push. Kim perfectly placed herself at the front of the peloton to slow them as long as possible. We were able to get a decent gap. Another rider was able to bridge up to us. Unfortunately, it did mess up our rotation since she would not pull. I also realized I have work to do on my pace lining in a team attack situation 😊. Ultimately, when we realized the peloton was gaining, we made the decision to ease and rest for the final ramp up to the finish.

Nail biting finish with Sorellas finishing strong!
With a mile to go, the peloton was together. One of the women in Cat 4/5 pushed off the front. I was boxed in and could not respond initially. Saskia started pushing to catch. I worked my way out of the pack and was able to jump on Saskia’s wheel, I then made a push around Saskia who perfectly jumped on my wheel. I believe I heard her say “I’ll take that wheel thank you very much”. Love it!!! We caught the leading Cat 4/5 rider. Saskia got on her wheel as I made my final push to the finish line. Gritting my teeth, I crossed over the line first for Cat 3. Saskia made an amazing pass and sprint to cross the line second overall and first for the Cat 4/5. Kim Nelson pushed to the line for third in Cat 3. Diane Schleicher pushed to the line for ninth in Cat 4/5.
Quote from Saskia Hoppe “An exciting race with Sorella well represented! I had the opportunity to race with veteran racer Kim Nelson who was happy to provide me with hints, tips and some great strategy advice. Together with Melanie, the 3 of us were able to try out a couple of different moves, some worked better than others but it was fun to try!”.

Quote from Kim Nelson "I just want to say what a pleasure it was to race with you, Saskia & Diane. I feel like Sorella Cycling got to SHINE. We controlled the race from beginning to end. We had an opportunity to set a great example of what it means to work together, compete and yet still find ways to encourage all the women racing. I was especially proud to be part of this team and remember why we were voted USA Cycling’s Club of the year. Having Melanie & Saskia on top of the Cat 3 & 4 podiums was icing on the cake! #SorellaStrong”.

Quote from Diane Schleicher “The course was fast and furious! So proud of my Sorella team mates for dominating the podiums”.   
GA State Championship Brooks 2020

It was an incredible day for Sorella!! We worked together as a team. Thank you to Stefanie Wilmert and her husband for volunteering to drive the wheel truck. Thank you to Sorella’s cheering section, Rob King, Michelle Hollberg, Libby Brown, Henry Zuver, Don Nelson and Peanut 🐕. All of you make the difference!!! I’d also like to give a big thank you to our sponsors: @sorellacycling @hincapiesports @atlantacycling @eventidebrewing @theinfinitloop @tifosioptics @escapetobr @shotxshan @dumondetech @ninja_mtb_performance @advancedbarcode #SorellaCycling #HincapieSportswear #ridehincapie #hincapiefamily #AtlantaCycling #EventideBrewery @EmoryAllianceCU @emorysportsmedicine #AdvancedBarcodeAndLabel #EmorySportsMedicine #InfinitNutrition #TifosiOptics #wearetifosi #EscapetoBlueRidge #EscapeToBR @lostworldadventure.