Hot weather, large crowds, fast racing and crashes – especially in the women’s races - over the weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma as NRC points and big money were on the line at the 3 criteriums in 3 days of racing at the Tulsa Tough p/b The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.
Brad Huff of the Jelly Belly squad won two of the crits and placed fifth in the third event to claim the men’s omnium and take home $14,160 – that is without counting the primes. Proman’s Shelley Olds followed the same recipe to win the overall points omnium and take home a nice check of $8,175. Nice bundle for the newly-engaged rider who finished second last year in the omnium while riding solo.
The first race on Friday evening was the Blue Dome Criterium where the elongated figure-8 1.2-km course with eight 90-degree corners passed nearly every bar and club in the Blue Dome District, a perfect recipe to bring out a big crowd to cheer on the riders. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) won the field sprint of the women’s 55-minute crit beating Team Type 1 duo of Jen McRae and Samantha Schneider. Multiple crashes occurred sending riders to the hospital after the race including Vanderkittens riders with one rider diagnosed with a collarbone and another one with ‘just’ stitches to her arm.
The men’s 70-minute crit, which also came down to a field sprint, was aptly controlled by the Jelly Belly squad who came to the front with 10 laps to go and their sprinter Brad Huff delivered the win. Mark Hekman (Mt Khakis) was second and USA Crit Champion Rahsaan Bahati finished third.
Saturday brought the Brady Village Criterium which is raced on an L-shaped course with 6 corners over 1.3 km (8/10 mile) in the historic Brady Arts district. The Jelly Belly team followed the same scenario bringing the full squad to the front in the final laps and once again Huff delivered the goods besting the Fly V Australia duo of Jonny Cantwell and Australian Crit Champ Bernie Sulzberger.
In the women’s 60-minute race, Olds took the bunch sprint claiming her first NRC victory beating van Gilder and Jen Purcell (Colavita/Sutter Home) to the line.
The women’s crit was marred by a huge crash in the first few laps which brought the race to a standstill so the emergency personnel could provide assistance to the at least three dozen riders.
“I had nowhere to go but to be catapulted,” said Team Type 1′s Monique Hanley who fractured three vertebrae and dislocated her shoulder in the crash.
“The bunch swelled slightly and I had a lane along the fence line and was moving up,” Hanley said. “A clash of wheels in the middle of the pack started the chain reaction, and at first I thought I’d missed it. But suddenly bikes and bodies were sliding out in my direction. It was a classic ‘nowhere to go’ scenario.”
Her team reports that the Australian rider has full range of movement in her arms and legs, but her dislocated shoulder will require surgery.
After a twenty-minute neutralization, the race was re-started with 40 minutes on the clock.
What caused so many crashes this year? Seems to be a combination of bigger fields and the temperature which hit highs of 90F. Vanderkitten’s Liz Hatch commented, via twitter, “It’s super hot, people seem tired therefore the speeds are slower and it bunches up too much. Safer when it’s faster.” Best wishes to all the riders injured in the crash.
On Sunday afternoon, the Tulsa Tough concluded with the technical Riverview Criterium which includes a short but challenging climb and right-hand hairpin curve in a residential neighborhood. The Colavita/Sutter Home, TIBCO, Lip Smacker, and Team Type 1 squads all attacked multiple times in the women’s 60-minute race but in the end in all came down to another bunch sprint won again by Olds. Carmen McNellis (Colavita/Sutter Home) was second and McRae was third.
The Jelly Belly team covered all moves in the final 80-minute race in order to protect Huff’s lead in the omnium. Twenty-five minutes into the race, Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly) attacked solo and gained 30 seconds on the field and a prime before being swallowed up with five laps to go. Wily Dan Ramsey (Mt Khakis) pulled out his patented break and soloed wasy fro the field with four laps to go. With big money on the line, the field was chasing but he held on to win the final race crossing the line with just a few seconds ahead of the group. Bahati won the field sprint for second and Sulzberger was third.
Olds wins the omnium with a total of 68 points, with a slim lead of 3 points over van Gilder. McRae was third at 58 points.
By finishing fifth in the third crit, Huff took the omnium with 83 points with a margin of 14 points on Cantwell and 19 points on Sulzberger.
The Jelly Belly riders dedicated their win to Directeur Sportif Danny Van Haute’s father who passed away the previous week.
Complete results here