Stillwater Criterium. Billed as the toughest crit in the Nation. Some riders like it, some not so much. But it always provides a great show for the spectators. Each lap of this brutal crit starts off on Chilkoot Hill, an eighth-mile uphill climb at a grade of more than 20 percent, and then a descent with racers exceeding 50 mph on this 1.5-mile circuit.
Leader Rory Sutherland and his team Health Net-Maxxis controlled the men’s race from the beginning, keeping the pace high and letting only riders that were not threatening on the GC have a chance at glory.
Brad White (Successful Living) was the first one to give it a go, staying away for the first half of the 18-lap race. With about 4 laps to go, 5 riders bridged up to White but Health Net-Maxxis just kept the tempo high reducing the number of riders in the main field. Lap after lap, riders were dropped. White received the Most Aggressive award for this efforts.
With only 2 laps to go, Andy Bajadali (Kelly Benefit/Medifast) made a move, and stayed away uintil the last climb. “My goal was to stay in the wheels of the other riders and to wait for the sprint. So I started the last climb in fifth or sixtth position and we caught my teammate in the middle of the climb.” said Best Young Rider David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit/Medifast).
Sutherland wins his third stage race in a row, starting Joe Martin, Mt Hood and now Nature Valley. His teammate John Murphy was second, and last year’s winner Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) rounds off the GC podium.
In addition to the overall win, Health Net-Maxxis also won the team competition, and Kirk O’Bee took home the Sprint Jersey. Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly) is the KOM.
It was all Kristin Armstrong (Cervelo-Lifeforce) once again during the women‘s race. Armstrong launched her solo attack on the third of the 12 laps and made it first to the line by over a minute over second place Leigh Hobson (Cheerwine). Tibco’s Joanne Kiesanowski finished third.
“I came over here with one teammate, Emma Rickards and I couldn’t have done this without her,” said Armstrong after the last stage. “Cycling is a team sport and there are a lot of good teams out here but we made it to the finish in the yellow. You always have to have someone by your side and Emma was there.
Armstrong put her stamp on this race winning the overall, and three stage wins (or four if the first stage had not been neutralized). In addition, Armstrong took the Queen of the Hills Competition and the Most Aggressive Rider jersey for the final stage. Kat Carroll (Aaron’s) and Anne Samplonius (Cheerwine) took second and third respectively in the general classification.
Kristin McGrath (Colavita/Sutter Home) took home the Best Young Rider jersey and the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey.
Armstrong wins her second overall victory in a stages-race in this year after the overall victory of the “Women’s Tour of New Zealand“.