The third edition of the Tulsa Tough starts tomorrow, Friday May 30th in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Tulsa Tough is more that just a race, it’s a riding festival that includes a leisurely ride before the race, and the Children’s Hospital Tough Kids Challlenge & Bike Give-away. This year, the organization, with the assistance of the Children’s hospital at st-Francis is giving away 300 Trek bikes and a helmet to 3rd, 4th and 5th graders. And to make sure the kids would have fun on their bikes, they had to complete a Safe Escape program and a Skills & Drills Bicycle Safety class. Sweet.
The racing is comprised of 3 criteriums and an overall points omnium.
The series starts on Friday evening with the QuikTrip Blue Dome Criterium held on a challenging figure-eight course. The eight 90-degree corner 3/4 mile (1.2km) course passes nearly every bar and club in the Blue Dome District, pretty convenient. (course map)
The second crit, the Brady Village Criterium, on May 31st is part of the NRC for the women and also counts for the USA Crits series for both the men and the women. The L-shaped course with 6 corners over 8/10 mile (1.3km) in the historic Brady Arts district. (course map)
The third and last crit, the technical Riverview Criterium, includes a short but challenging climb and right-hand hairpin curve in a residential neighborhood. In the two previous years, the men’s race followed the same pattern, a small break stayed away until the finish, we’ll see if it happens again this year. (course map)
The weather will also play a factor in the racing, the riders will face hot and humind conditions with chances of rain and thunderstorms on Saturday and Sunday. Last year, the women’s race on Friday night had to be shortened due to thunderstorms.
In 2007, Successful Living dominated the series, winning 2 of the crits, and swept the overall series podium with Ricardo Escuela (1st), Alessandro Bazzana (2nd) and JR Grabinger (3rd). This year, the team is focused on NRC points and is not sending a full team, but another team is hoping to dominate.
For the first time ever, Toyota-United team is sending 9 riders to tackle the Tulsa Tough, some serious fire power to control the sprint including Ivan Dominguez, Ivan Stevic, ace lead out man Henk Vogels and sweeper Hilton Clarke. Of note, Dominguez took a small break to welcome his beautiful baby boy – congratulations.
Other teams hoping to pull out a win against the red, white & blue juggernaut are THF Racing, Team Inferno, TxTough/Team Hotel San Jose and Mercy Cycling. Silver medalist at the points race at the 2008 Pan-American Championships, Dan Holloway (VMG/Felt), Michael Cody (Jelly Belly) and Chuck Coyle (Successful Living) will be playing the jokers, trying to fly under radar and surprise everyone with little or no teammates to help them.
On the women’s side, the battle will be on between the New Zealand’s Jazz Apple Cycling Team with Suzy Pride and Alison Shanks, Cheerwine with Kelly Benjamin and Vanderkitten team. Other riders to watch include Jen McRae (Advil/Chapstick), winner of 2 stages in 2007, Monique Hanley (Team Type 1) who just finished third at the Kelly Cup and Shelley Olds (Proman).
Good coverage by Tulsa World
2006 and 2007 results available on usacycling.org