OAKLAND -- Cranking through her final few laps, widening the yawning gap separating her from the rest of the field, cyclist Alison Tetrick drove to finish strong.
"It's all about staying focused and pacing your body at that point," Tetrick, a 2016 Olympic hopeful, said minutes after streaking through the finish line, arms up in triumph. "You can perform better, through the fatigue, when you know that finish line is ahead."
Tetrick, a 28-year-old who rides for Exergy TWENTY16, emerged as the fastest rider in the 24-woman field Sunday, capturing the women's Oakland Grand Prix. The 34-mile race consists of 40 laps, reaching speeds faster than 30 miles an hour through windy, hilly downtown streets.
Hundreds of cyclists from California and Nevada swooshed through downtown Oakland for the ninth annual Oakland Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon. The closed-course race is the last of the 20-event season for the Northern California Nevada Cycling Association's professional tour.
Sunday's 10 races in various divisions drew hundreds of spectators and about 300 riders, ranging in age from 12 to 60, said race Director Mark Sneed. Organizers doled out about $5,000 in cash and prizes, he said.
"The course is very challenging, very technical," Sneed said. "The riders really push it to the limit."
The 0.85-mile rolling hourglass course is a loop of city streets a stone's throw from Lake Merritt, featuring five 90-degree right turns, two 90-degree lefts and one hairpin right. Each lap culminates in a quad-burning uphill drive to the finish near 19th and Harrison streets.
Spectators and vendors gathered at Snow Park, adjacent to the race beginning and finish line, watched packs of riders pass by in a blur and hear an announcer bark updates through the microphone.
The race and turnout have grown every year, said race founder Robert Leibold, of Velo Promo, a bicycle event promotion company. The event is part of a burgeoning cycling scene in Oakland.
"Oakland is not quite Berkeley or Santa Cruz just yet in terms of being a cycling mecca," Liebold said, bolting away for a moment to halt a car that took a wrong turn and crept toward the downtown track's boundary. "But Oakland is coming up."
Leibold said he hopes to book live music performers and draw more industry vendors to next year's races.
Organizers were quick to praise Oakland's city government for helping host a safe, competitive event.
"The city has been great," Sneed said. "Public Works smoothed over the roughest parts of the streets to help us make Oakland's only USA cycling event a reality."