Rally Cycling brought two racers for Saturday’s Sunny King Criterium women’s pro race … a top sprinter and former winner and a 19-year-old hotshot.
The 19-year-old hotshot had her night in downtown Anniston.
Summer Moak found herself in the right place to go with the final breakaway and navigated the final sprint to win, edging Fast Chance’s Laura Jorgensen and CWA’s Daniely Garcia.
Moak got her fourth victory as a pro and what she called “definitely my favorite so far” in her first Sunny King appearance, and Rally Cycling came away victorious in a race where other top teams brought full rosters.
Moak and 2012 winner Erica (Allar) Carney were all Rally had and all Rally would need.
“After the race, we were talking and, with, like, four to go, I was going to be like, ‘Erica, you’ve got this today,’” Moak said. “She was telling me she was going to say the same thing to me.”
Moak had to work out some first-time kinks, especially the third turn. The turn comes at the end of a fast, downhill run on the course’s back side.
“It took me the entire race to get through turn 3 clean,” she said with a chuckle. “Finally, on the last lap, I was able to take it with confidence.”
Otherwise, it became a game of picking spots for Rally.
“We had to play our cards right, knowing that we couldn’t cover every single move,” Carney said. “We just had to be calculated in the moves that we did cover.
“We couldn’t let Hagens Berman or CWA, Sam Schneider’s team, go up the road without us.”
Moak, in her second year with Rally, went with the last breakaway, nine racers, and poked around the front, battling to stay in the top three wheels.
Jorgensen had decisions of her own to make.
“Going into the last laps, I went for the Gambler’s Prime and I was not sure it was a good move or not, but I won it ($500),” she said. “I was hoping to just speed up the field.
“I hopped back in and my teammate drove it and put me in a good position on the downhill. I am a really long sprinter, I am not really poppy, so I should have gone a little earlier, but Summer had an awesome finish.”
Carney watched from behind, relieved that Rally had one more move in it.
“It’s that type of situation where you cover a move, and you’re just like, gassed,” she said, “You’re like, if another move goes this time, I’m like, I can’t do it.
“Then another move goes, and you’re just devastated, and you look, and there goes your teammate, and they’re just on it, and you’re just grateful. You’re like, you know what, I don’t know why I had any doubt, girl. You’ve got this.”
Carney is a Sunny King regular and regularly on the podium. She calls it “one of my favorite races.”
“They’ve been, like, a pioneer in supporting the women, and they’ve been one of the longest-standing races that’s done equal prize money,” she said. “So, it’s really important for me, as a person who’s been in this sport for a long time, to support those types of events.
“Hopefully, we’ll be back next year … to defend.”