The 22nd Tour de ‘Toona was scaled back from seven days of racing to a one-day criterium held on Sunday July 27. The riders raced, for both men and women, 40 laps of a 1-mile (1.6 km) course with six right turns and two left turns, all 90 degrees. The course includes one slight rise and one moderate descent. In a rare and to be applauded decision, not only do the pro women and men cover the same distance, but the purse is the same, a total of $15,000 prize purse to each field.
In the pro men’s race, capitalizing on its numbers, the Colavita/Sutter Home swept the podium with Luis Amaran on the top step, Tyler Wren in second and Kyle Wamsley in third place.
With a squad of 6 in a field of less than 40 riders, Amaran launched a solo attack and was able to build his gap to over 50 seconds at the end of the race. With less than 10 laps, a group of 5 riders separated themselves from the field, and in the final lap, Wren attacked the small group to grab second place and Wamsley won the sprint for third.
“The team is very strong,” Amaran said of his Team Colavita squad to the Altoona Mirror. “We had more numbers and we were able to send somebody up to the front today. We had a team meeting [Saturday] and we wanted to get somebody [on the team] to go strong up the road for us. We were basically able to execute what we had planned to execute today.”
For the fourth time in her career, Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) won the Toona Crit taking the two-up sprint ahead of Iona Wynter Park (Colavita/Sutter Home). The two women escaped in the third lap after countering a move and stayed away from the field to cross the line 53 seconds ahead of a chasing duo. Jacquelyn Crowell (Kenda Tire) outsprinted her chase mate for third place.
“With just a single-day criterium, my legs were a lot fresher this year than they were for this race in the past, when it was the last stage of the week-long event,” Van Gilder said to the Altoona Mirror. “Driving into town yesterday, I felt sad that this year’s race was only one day. I hope they can revive this event next year.”
On that note, Larry Bilotto, the Tour de ‘Toona Race Director announced on the race website that the 2009 Tour de Toona will return to the traditional 7-day stage race format for both pro men and women, including the popular 3-day omnium points race and weekend amateur events.