Team Vera Bradley Foundation once again climbed onto the podium at the Air Force Cycling Classic’s Clarendon Cup criterium, as Erica Allar sprinted to third place. TIBCO/To The Top’s Brooke Miller won the race, after clashing handlebars with Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita-Baci) in the last 50 meters of the race, who went down after the two collided. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) was 2nd. Cliff-Ryan sustained some minor road rash from the crash and no one else went down.
The VBF trio of Allar, Robin Farina and Carla Swart were up against full squads from both TIBCO/To The Top and Colavita-Baci, but the team raced aggressively throughout the 50 lap/30 kilometer race. Both Farina and Swart were in every breakaway, taking valuable cash primes throughout the race.
“If there was a TIBCO or Colavita attacking, either Robin or Carla were on them,” commented team director, Lisa Hunt. “They even initiated attacks, to keep the pace high throughout the race, and it allowed Erica to conserve energy if it came down to a sprint finish. The team rode a fantastic race.”
The speed of the race, combined with the hot, humid weather, caused the field to be whittled down to a mere 25 riders halfway through the race.
With five laps to go, both Colavita and TIBCO began to set up to lead out their sprinters, and Allar positioned herself well.
“I knew that Brooke, Laura and Theresa were the ones to watch,” stated Allar, who won this race last year.
With 200 meters to go, Miller jumped, with Cliff-Ryan coming up on her right side. The two were neck and neck with 50 meters to go and apparently, Cliff-Ryan hit a bump, which forced her to wobble and hit Miller’s handlebars.
“It happened so fast, but fortunately, I was to the left of it and I just kept sprinting,” said Allar. “I couldn’t quite get past Brooke and Laura at the finish.”