Jen McRae wins the USA Crits Finals in Vegas; Kelly Benjamin wins overall

Posted on 29. Sep, 2008 by in photos, race

(still catching up…) As part of the Las Vegas Interbike extravangaza, last Thursday’s night was held the final race of the USA Crits Series.  on a technical, some might say sketchy, 1-kilometer course in a parking lot at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. With bad lighting.

The overall winner of the USA Crits Series was still up in the air with only 64 points separating leader Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) from Vanderkitten’s Jennifer Wilson. And to add to the pressure, a lot of cyclists are still looking for a contract for the 2009 season.

In the final 4 laps of the 40 lap women’s crit, Jen McRae (Advil/Chapstick) attacked with only one other rider who couldn’t keep up the high pace and with 2 laps to go McRae launched to a solo victory. Tina Pic won the field sprint for second place over Laura Van Gilder.

“This is such an awesome way to end the season. I have been consistently finishing in third all season long. I have been quietly wanting to improve on that….to do it here in Las Vegas is totally awesome. I am pumped.”

Jen McRae (Advil/Chapstick) soloes to victory

The victory was welcomed as McRae is looking for a contract for the 2009 season as her team is folding. “It is not my last year of racing. I am not really sure what is next. Advil is not sticking with it. This is another reason to come to Vegas….to talk to some sponsors for the following year.” said McRae.

The women race in front of a purply thingie that housed a gogo dancer (Vegas!)
Lauren Franges (Tibco) leads the field with the Mandalay Bay in the background

For McRae, the course was quite similar to her Thursday night crit in her hometown of Austin, Texas. “Today felt like routine, like it was Thursday night. I was just out there doing my thing. Colavita had a counter and then Cheerwine, and then I countered that. It was really good timing and good luck. I was actually so motivated because I’ve been third season long. This is the spectacle here….being in Las Vegas. I couldn’t be happier. Las Vegas rocks. It’s like what you hear that everyone is here to have a good time. When we rolled out today I thought I am so grateful doing what I do.”

VegasCross winner Katie Compton (Spike Shooter) tried to get away and a Colavita/Sutter Home rider jumped on her wheel

More attacks followed from Cheerwine and Colavita/Sutter Home but “the teams did not have quite the depth.” according to McRae. “There were teams like Colavita [Sutter Home] and Cheerwine but were actually missing the Brooke [Miller] powerhouse of Tibco. We usually have Tibco to throw down the muscle when we need it. That’s where more opportunities came up. When they came back that was the opportunity for me to go. People were staring to get tired. I saw nine to go and really thought it was a good time. No one was really cutting any seconds into me so I thought maybe this gap will stick. It kinda works on you a little bit when you are consistent but then you are the bridesmaid all season. It feels so good to win.”

Jen McRae makes her move with only Christina Smith ( able to follow her wheel

With two laps, Jen McRae went solo to victory

In the end, there were no changes to the USA Crits standings. Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) won the overall with Jennifer Wilson (Vanderkitten) in second and Taitt Sato (ValueAct) in third. Vanderkitten took home the overall team title.

Race results and USA Crits Series final standings here
More photos here

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