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Roseville Rider Explains What It Means To Be A Human Shield During Amgen's Tour Of California

For every really successful professional cyclist, there are teammates responsible for helping that rider get to the front of the pack and, hopefully, win the race. One Roseville rider's job is to be one of those teammates.

Jayna Powless is 23, and rode in her first Amgen Tour of California Women's Race this year. She had been racing for years with  success as a professional mountain bike racer.

Last year, little brother Neilson finished ninth in the Amgen men's tour and Jayna thought this year, maybe she'd try hitting the road more and the trails less.

"I just really wanted to see what road racing was like and try to put more focus on it for this year while still doing a little bit of mountain bike racing at the same time," she says.

Her first road race was last August in Monterey County. She finished second.

The Sho-Air Twenty20 team offered her a spot as one of the riders who act as human shields for the team's very best riders. 

"Basically, I would just help them get good positioning going into critical points during the race and giving them leadouts maybe with one or two other teammates (for the top General Classification riders) and making sure they have enough water and nutrition throughout the race," she says.

Powless says she's learned a lot.

"It was my first year on the team so, just trying to help out my teammates and help them do the best that they can in the races," she says. "It's been really fun seeing my progress from the start of the season to now. I feel like I've definitely made a lot of improvements. So, yeah, it's been really fun so far."

She finished 16th in the Best Young Rider classification and 43rd overall in her first Amgen Tour. She plans to be back next year.

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