With two and a half laps to go on the 1.25-mile (2 km) course, in a great show of strength David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) soloed away from his breakaway companions to take the win and the check for $12,500 at the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in Charlotte NC. Team Type 1’s Aldo Ino Ilesic won the break sprint for second and Karl Menzies of the OUCH p/b Maxxis team was third.
Following the advice from his experienced teammate Alex Candelario, the 21-year old Veilleux timed his attack perfectly, counting on the fact that many in the break would think he went too early and hesitate before chasing.
“Sometimes, when you attack a little bit too far, people say ‘oh he’s not going to make it, it’s too far away’. So there’s always a hesitation, I got beat this week like this so I knew it was the right time with three laps, Candelario told me ‘go with three laps’. As I went, they looked at each other, Team Type 1 and Colavita with two guys so I knew I had good legs for the effort like this so I just kept going.” said Veilleux right after the race.
After shuffling, re-shuffling and more re-shuffling, a 10-rider break with the right combination escaped from the field midway through the 50-mile (80 km) NRC event. The break included Veilleux, Menzies, Ilesic and his teammate Valeryi Kobzarenko, Luis Amaran and Alejandro Borrajo of Colavita/Sutter Home, Jelly Belly’s Nick Reistad, BISSELL’s Andy Jacques-Maynes, Mark Hekman of Mt Khakis and Euris Vidal Paulino of Champion System.
“Everyone looked at each other, all the sprinters. The guy from Colavita and I had one more team member with us, at the end, it didn’t work out, we missed the win by a few seconds but that’s cycling.” said Ilesic who’s going to try for the win again at the Hanes Park Classic in Winston-Salem on Sunday.
“I’m feeling really good, I wanted to have a good race here, I’ve got some history here. We had a great 24 hours of Booty, we had a great dinner with those guys, that was inspirational, the stuff that they do with brain tumors and cancer. They have a huge crew here and we’re trying to do the race for them and for the team. We had a huge amount of support, I’m just disappointed with myself, the podium is good but it would have been nice to win.” said a disappointed Menzies.
The word of the day was break as in everybody wanted to be in one. For the past three years, the winner has come from a break and with teams fielding a maximum of 6 riders, everyone expected a break would go to the line.
“We had a pretty good sprinter squad here, anyone of us that was in the breakaway was a good option. We knew that with the teams having only 6 guys that a breakaway would go and we just tried to be in every move and it paid off. ” said Veilleux.
The same for the OUCH team who sent John Murphy, Menzies and others to cover the moves. “We thought that there was going to be a break because of the teams with such small numbers and everyone has strong riders. Colavita doesn’t mind having anybody up the road, we wouldn’t mind having anyone up the road so it was a game of chess.” said Menzies.
Going for the first prime of the day, Anthony Bennett of Jittery Joe’s U25-Kudzu.com sent the first salvo and was quickly joined by two other riders but the trio would soon be reeled in. Dan Zmolik (CRCA/Empire Cycling) went for it and was quickly joined by Frank Travieso (Champion Porsche) and Dirk Pohlman (Texas Roadhouse) but once again, the trio was brought back. And that was the story of the day. With 30 laps to go, a large group of 20 riders was off the front but with such big numbers, that break was doomed.
The next one to try his hand was Team Type 1’s Valeryi Kobzarenko with last year’s winner Alejandro Borrajo (Colavita/Sutter Home) in hot pursuit. The duo was quickly joined by Murphy, James Stemper (Gear Grinder) and Diego Gavarito (Aerocat) with 24 laps to go. On the next lap, 5 more riders joined the group but were brought back by the field with USA Criterium Champion Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) leading the chase.
The field was all back together mid-race just in time for another prime and another attack, this time it was Sebastian Haedo (Colavita/Sutter Home) and he was quickly joined by 9 other riders. A few more re-shuffling in the break and it would be the decisive move of 10 riders as the gap steadily grew.
“From each team, at least one guy was pulling through.” said Ilesic.
13 laps to go, gap was up to 20 seconds, 10 laps to go, the gap was now 40 seconds. This is it, everyone could feel that the winner would come from the break. With 9 laps to go and a 45 second gap, some riders launched desperate moves from the field to try to bridge up including Benjamin Zawacki from Richmond Pro Cycling and Texas Roadhouse, but they were not catching the beak.
8 to, go, 7 to go, 6 to go, the lap cards were flipping over and the question was when would the break start attacking each other. With two riders each in the move, Colavita/Sutter Home and Team Type 1 seem to have the advantage.
Well with less than 3 laps to go, Veilleux answered that question. He jumped and quickly got an advantage on the remaining 9 riders.
“Everyone thought they were a sprinter, every one’s got a good sprint on their day on that group. That was the move, I wasn’t going to attack like that because I thought one it would be covered, or two they’d chase it back. He hit it at the right time and I guess they hesitated because it was him and that’s all it takes. ” said Menzies.
The 9 riders started to look at each other and left the chase to the teams with two riders, so Kobzarenko and Amaran came to the front and tried to bring the Canadian U23 Time Trial Champion back.
“Only my teammate Kobzarenko and the Colavita rider were pulling it back, we were the only team with two riders in there.” said Ilesic.
“I wanted to win this, I knew I had good legs. Once Veilleux – he’s definitely riding strong – you are kind of isolated with one guy, it would have been nice to have been two in the move but Team Type and Colavita having two guys was a good thing but then it turned into their demise as well because they were left to chase down Veilleux by themselves which left them without a leadout. No one else would work with them, it was up to those two guys and they didn’t catch him, what can you do?” asked Menzies.
Veilleux put his head down and just powered to the finish, increasing his gap to the break in front of a boisterous and appreciative crowd.
“I heard nothing with all the crowd cheering, I was just in my bubble and kept going as hard as I could. I think I saw towards the end that the gap increased but I just kept going because sometimes you lose it a little bit and the gap comes down again, I knew I had to push hard all the time.” described Veilleux who had time to enjoy his victory.
After Hanes Park Classic on Sunday, Veilleux will concentrate of the U23 Time Trial World Championship to be held in September.
“I had some good results last year and I’m happy to be back in good shape. I broke my collarbone at the beginning of the season and it slowed me a lot. I think maybe a lot more time that I expected to come back and I think I’m in pretty good shape and I’m really looking forwards to the Espoirs World Championship, I’m focusing on the time trial at the end of September so right now all my energy is on that.” explained Veilleux.
Full results here
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