Two of Arizona’s top professional women cyclists will see a new race calendar and new faces with changes coming in 2016.
Tucson’s Erica Allar, a three-time National Criterium Calendar series champion, will join Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies. She will race alongside with Jasmin Glaesser, Jessica Prinner, Kirsti Lay, junior Emma White, Elle Anderson, Heather Fischer, Hannah Ross, Sara Poidevin and Katherine Maine.
Allar said she and Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking mutually parted ways this season before she finished out the season with Care 4 Cycling, a nonprofit she supports.
Early on in the season, Allar narrowly missed a chance at a national crit championship when she and Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare) crashed on the final turn of the last lap.
Allar, 30, said she is excited for the move and to work with new, developing young riders.
“I’m actually the oldest rider on the team, which is very new to women’s cycling,” Allar said. “Optum has committed to hiring several very young, up-and-coming riders. This year, I hope to have a positive, mentor type role with these young girls.”
Phoenix’s Anna Sanders will stick with her Visit Dallas team, which merged with DNA Cycling to form Visit Dallas-DNA Pro Cycling.
Sanders will race alongside Amanda Miller, Anna Grace Christiansen, Beth Ann Orton, Breanne Nalder, Jamie Gilgen, Lauren De Crescenzo, Mandy Heintz, Mia Manganello, Nina Laughlin, Sarah Tussey and Tiffany Pezzulo.
Sanders said the combination will form a well-rounded team next year.
“We have experience mixed with a never-stop attitude,” Sanders said. “Add that to a group of riders who truly enjoy being around each other and will go to battle day in and day out because they are racing with and for friends equals a recipe for success.”
One wrench thrown into the mix is the new combined National Criterium Calendar and National Racing Calendar, but both Allar and Sanders say they will have dedicated riders for each type of race.
“There will definitely be some cross-over for a few riders due to their abilities as all-arounders,” Sanders said. “We plan to be represented at almost all NCC and NRC events.”
Allar, who in the past focused on the entire NCC for an overall series win, said the combination calendar allows her to focus more on individual races and is somewhat of a relief.
“I will be able to pinpoint which races I want to do well at and put my energy into them rather than worry about making it through an entire season or race series well enough to win an overall,” Allar said.