While the US Pros were fighting it out for the Stars and Stripes jersey this weekend in Greenville SC, another battle, this one for the individual NRC lead, was being waged in Binghamton, NY at the Chris Thater Memorial criterium. Going into the penultimate race in the series, only 97 points divided leader Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) from second-placed Sebastian Haedo (Colavita/Sutter Home). Which meant that if Haedo won the crit, he would take over the lead and so Zirbel’s teammates went into the race with one goal: not to let Haedo win and for the Colavita team, it was all about the bunch sprint. Throw in riders from Kelly Benefit Strategies, Mt Khakis and the Planet Energy team and the attacks flew.
Planet Energy’s François Parisien was the first off in the 50-mile crit but he returned to the field after no one briged up to him. Counter-moves and counter-counter-moves flew until a group went away with 15 laps to go. The 6-rider break included Ryan Roth (Planet Energy), Anibal Borrajo (Colavita/Sutter Home), Clay Murfet (Kelly Benefit), Amauri Perez (Mengoni) and two other riders. The gap grew to 26 seconds before the chase was mostly taken up by David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit) looking to set up his sprinter Jake Keough.
With the field closing down, Borrajo attacked the break and took Roth and Perez with him but it was for naught. On the final lap, just before the final turn, Martin Gilbert (Planet Energy) wound up his leadout with his teammates Guillaume Boivin and Keven Lacombe on his wheels and blasted past the Colavita/Sutter Home train. Lacombe took the win ahead of a surging Haedo. Yosvany Falcon (Champion Porsche) was third.
The TIBCO team used its numbers in the women’s 35-mile race, putting riders in the front for most of the laps forcing others, especially reigning US Crit Champion Tina Pic and her Colavita/Sutter Home team and Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom), to chase. Pic lost a teammate, Catherine Cheatley, in a mid-race crash.
TIBCO came to the front to set up the bunch sprint, with Emma Rickards driving the pace. Lauren Tamayo took over next and drove it to the 500-meter mark. With Kat Carroll on the front, Jo Kiesanowski and Brooke Miller eased off and let her get a gap in a bid to take the win solo.
Pic reacted to the move and started to sprint early to which Miller and Kiesanowski answered by also starting their sprint. Miller claimed the victory ahead of Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci) and Pic.
Complete Chris Thater results here
The Chris Thater Memorial Crit is also part of the USA Crit Series. By finishing sixth, Keough has moved into first place in the series with the Mt Khakis team breathing down his neck as Mark Hekman is 3 points behind and Adam Myerson is 37 points back. Keough continues to also lead in the U23 category.
Van Gilder continues to lead the series with 162 points on Miller and 205 points on her teammate Kristen LaSasso.
Two races remain in the USA Crits Series, the TX Tough Grand Prix in Dallas, TX on September 17 and the USA Crits Finals in Las Vegas, NV on September 24 which is held during Interbike.
Zirbel kept his lead in the NRC, with only a slim 7 points lead but it should be enough for him to win the NRC Individual Standings as the final race, the US 100K Classic, in Atlanta, is held at the same time as the Tour of Missouri where both Haedo and Zirbel are racing.
The women’s individual NRC Standings were settled early on in the season as Team Type 1′s Alison Powers clinched the lead for months. But the race for third is still tight.
|After 23 events in the men’s calendar completed, the top 5 are:|
|Men’s Individual Standings
||Men’s Team Standings
|After 17 events in the women’s NRC, the top 5 are:|
|Women’s Individual Standings
||Women’s Team Standings
Complete results available at USACycling.org.
The final event on the 2009 NRC is the US 100K Classic in Atlanta, Ga. on September 7.
I have been asked what is the prize for the winning the NRC… the answer is simple: nothing or bragging rights only. Why doesn’t USA Cycling create a special jersey for the leader during the year with a podium presentation after every race? USA Crits Series does.