New US Pro Crit Champions will be crowned this Sunday in at the KIA Motors USA Cycling National Criterium Championships in Downers Grove, Illinois. Two things make the race interesting, first, the final turn, ask any rider about the race and they will tell you, ‘it’s all about the last corner’. Second, the fact that the Men’s USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship is an open race, that is non-Americans can race and race to win while the top US rider is crowned champion, even if he did not finish first.
While there are 8-turns on the one-mile course, the final corner which comes at 150 meters to the finish line is crucial and positioning is everything. (Read up on all the other corners over at ChicagoBikeRacing)
The presence of non-American riders in the race makes for an interesting dilemna for the teams: what’s more important for a team: winning the race with a non-American rider or trying to get the US Pro Title even if it risks the win. What do you guys think?
A who’s who of criterium specialists and sprinters are showing up this year as the race does not conflict with Utah. Defending champion Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) will finally be racing with his team including Freddie Rodriguez and new American citizen Ivan Dominguez as he hopes to keep the Stars & Bars on his shoulders.
Team Type 1 is coming with two very strong sprinters, Slovenian Aldo Ino Ilesic who showed his powerful sprint by winning the Hanes Park Classic and taking the field sprint for second at Charlotte and former USA Elite Crit Champion Ken Hanson. Kelly Benefit Strategies is counting on Canadian David Veilleux who showed he was back on form in Charlotte following his broken collarbone and Americans Alex Candelario and Jake Keough. American John Murphy is leading the charge for the OUCH p/b Maxxis squad and can count on Tasmanian (okay Australian) Karl Menzies who has been honing his form in the South East crits.
Other riders to watch include Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) who also feels that he is back on track this year after winning The Great Downers Avenue Crit in Chicago (read more here), Frank Pipp (BISSELL) and Tom Soladay (Mt Khakis) who in my personal opinion is on the cusp of something big. Unfortunately – no start list available at this time.
Defending Champion Brooke Miller of Team TIBCO is going on with great confidence after winning the last two NRC races, Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium and Hanes Park Classic in North Carolina last weekend. Both races were won in a bunch sprint.
“I feel really, really good. I keep twitching at night when I think about Downers, I sprint in my sleep.” laughed Miller after winning the Hanes Park Classic. “I’ve been hitting that last corner every night. Actually I’m really excited because we have new wheels, we have Stinger 90s and they have a wider rim so that the tubular sits deeper in them so you can corner sharper on them. So for the last few crits, halfway through the season we got these in, and I feel so confident on my cornering, more so than I ever have and I’ve also been counter-steering a lot and really throwing my bike more and the bike really responds to it. Downers is really won on the last corner so I’ve been excited about it.”
The Team Type 1 women’s squad is going in with the same strategy as every other criterium, race aggressively and try and set up Jen McRae for the win. McRae has finished on the podium of the race at Downers Grove, Ill., three of the past four years. She was third last year, second in 2007 and third in 2005.
Colavita/Sutter Home’s Tina Pic is always a rider to watch as she has won 5 Criterium Championships in her career which is coming to a close this year as she has announced her retirement. Other riders to watch include Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) and Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci-Breakaway) who podiumed on the two races in North Carolina while riding with only one teammate. Watch for the ValueAct ladies to go on the aggression again to try and force a break. Again no startlists.
he 23rd annual National Championships of Cycling—often dubbed the “granddaddy” of Midwest cycling events—begins on Friday and Saturday, August 15-16, in the streets of southwest suburban Downers Grove. NCC boasts 14 pro/am cycling races and more than $44,000 in total prize money.
Weekend highlights include:
- The 40 Mins.+ 2 lap Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital Women 1/2/3 – Saturday 6:10pm
- The 50K (31 mile) HealthSource Pro-Am Challenge Cat. 1/2 – Saturday at 7:10 pm
- The 50K (31 mile) Elite KIA Motors Elite Women National Criterium Championship – Sunday at 11:00 am
- The 80K (appx. 50 miles) Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital Elite Men National Criterium Championship – Sunday at 12:30 pm
- The 100K (62 mile) KIA Motors USA Cycling National Criterium Championship – Sunday at 3:00 pm