SACRAMENTO -- Carmen Small tried to break right Sunday in a sprint finish on Capitol Mall in the women's race of the Amgen Tour of California.
Back home in Durango, Colorado, husband Ben Sonntag screamed at his computer screen while watching a live video stream.
Small seemed to hear him. She suddenly switched to the left for a big move that led to victory for Team Specialized Luluemon in a one-hour circuit race that was held in conjunction with the men's stage.
"Patience was the game today," said Small, who will be among the 20 women competing Monday in an individual time trial in Folsom.
The two days of racing are an expansion for women, who are trying to make inroads by participating in America's most prestigious stage race.
Small and other pros underscored how women are ready for more serious racing with an aggressive, fast pace over a 1.24-mile course that had a climactic ending.
The real sprinting began on the last corner when Alison Powers of UnitedHealthcare took off a bit too far from the finish line.
Team Tibco leader Jo Kiesanowski of New Zealand followed Powers with 200 meters left feeling confident.
Then Small flew past.
"It all changed within a few seconds," said Kiesanowski, who was fifth.
"I didn't have time to react."
UnitedHealthcare's Coryn Rivera of Tustin was second, followed by Optium Pro Cycling's Walle Brianna of Portland, Oregon.
Rivera, a student at Marian University in Indianapolis, marveled at Small's tactics.
"Carmen had a free ride to the line," she said.
Small credited Specialized teammates going out fast and protecting her from the winds to conserve energy throughout the hour.
The women are grateful to participate in the Tour of California but they feel as if they are getting table scraps.
"A 60-minute 'crit' is not going to cut it," Tibco's Jasmin Glaesser said. "The men did 180 kilometers today — we did an hour of racing."
The women competed on a day the weeklong Tour of Britain concluded with world and Olympic champion Marianne Vos winning. The British tour attracted many of the world's stars, siphoning off riders from the California event. It also proved to be a popular.
A much weaker field competed in Sacramento with lower-level teams from Northern California entered. That made for dangerous conditions with multiple crashes. About 40 percent of the 100-plus field did not finish.
"It was a sketchy race," said Glaesser, who won a 2012 Olympic medal in track cycling. "Riders were doing unpredictable things."
Rivera described the conditions as scary.
"Never a dull moment out there," she said.
While the women know they can do much more they don't want to speak unkindly when race organizers have expanded their opportunity. They called the extra day of racing a positive step for women's cycling.
But "it is not going to be enough until we get our own tour," Small said.
She hopes days like Sunday will help attain their ultimate goal.
"It's just an hour crit but we showcased ourselves," Small added. "We can race our bike hard and competitively."
Small had no problem with inexperienced riders racing alongside the pros because "you have to let those teams in because how are we going to grow the sport?"
When it came down to the final meters, the race provided all the excitement cycling can offer.
"I think we made an impact," Rivera said.
Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.