The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis got off to a fast start in the opening weekend of the Southeast Criterium Series speed week. On Saturday, Karl Menzies of the UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis took the victory at the Terrapin Athens Twilight Criterium, besting five breakmates in a sprint finish. Andrew Pinfold of UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis followed that effort with a strong 2nd place finish in the Historic Roswell Criterium Sunday evening.
Menzies romps in the rain. In Athens, Menzies was part of a six-rider break that formed mid-way through the 80km race.
“With the conditions like they were, the top 20 guys in the race were always near the front,” Menzies said. “There were a lot of attacks the first half of the race. We were covering everything. We had someone in every move. It just happened to be the one I was in that stuck.”
Luca Damiani (Kenda p/b Gear Grinder) instigated the decisive move, which Menzies joined along with Alessandro Bazzana (Fly V Australia), Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation), Ken Hanson (Team Type 1) and Ty Magner (Locos Cycling Team).
With most of the main teams well represented in the break, and weather conditions ranging from light to torrential rain, the six riders were able to work together to open a gap that saw them come within sight of the tail end of main pack.
But with fast men Clarke and Hansen in the break and conditions being what they were, Menzies liked his chances sprinting out of a six-rider group rather than a big bunch.
“I began soft-pedaling a bit, and then Bazzana shut it down, too,” Menzies said. When the gap to the back of the peloton, which had been at 0:12, grew out to 0:30, Hansen and Clarke backed off and the break once again began working together to stay out in front.
With just over a lap to go, Menzies made a solo bid that only Bazzana was able to cover.
“He attacked through the bottom two corners, but coming out of the last corner I was able to get back up to him,” Menzies said.
The big man from Tasmania steamed past Bazzana with 50 meters to go to take the convincing win. “With conditions like this,” he said, “having good tires makes all the difference in the world. The Maxxis Cormet tires handled brilliantly.”
Pinfold powers to 2nd in Roswell. UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis continued to show its depth in the sprints as Andrew Pinfold took 2nd place in the Historic Roswell Criterium Sunday behind Ken Hanson (Team Type 1).
Under far better conditions than at Athens the night before, a potentially fatigued peloton and a solid headwind on the long straightaway kept the race together to the finish.
“By halfway through, I think everyone had resigned themselves to the race ending in a bunch sprint,” Pinfold said. “With conditions like last night, not finishing until almost 11 p.m. and then not getting to bed until 2:30 a.m., it can take a lot out of you.”
Coming into the final lap, UnitedHealthcare Presented by Maxxis had good control of the front of the race, with Menzies leading out Pinfold.
“The finish is a bit tricky,” Pinfold said. “You come out of one corner, go up a rise and then it’s a false flat to the finish. You need to time your sprint really well. I misjudged the sprint a little bit and Ken timed it perfectly.
“I didn’t have great legs today and Ken’s riding really well of late,” Pinfold added. “While I would’ve liked to hit the top step today, given how I felt, I’m pretty happy with second place. We had a good start to the week here in Georgia. I’m hoping to get stronger as the week goes along. And hopefully we can bring home a few more wins this week.”