It was fast straight from the gun at the Blue Dome Criterium, the St Francis Tulsa Tough opener on a hot and muggy Friday night, with temps in the mid 90sF. The first attack came on the first lap and from then on, it was game on in the women pro/1/2 field. The aggressor was definitely the new team on the block, the NOW & Novartis for MS squad who launched rider after rider off the front; including Anne Samplonius who went off solo twice and Robin Farina. The goal was to force the other teams to chase on the 1.2-km figure-8 course while their sprinter ‘relaxed’ in the field. But they weren’t the only team trying to get a break off, Primal/MapMyRide gave it a go to.
Halfway through the 55-minute crit, the field was all together when a crash on the second to last corner took down a few riders with Irish National Champion Olivia Dillon (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12) taking the worst hit. Thinking she had avoided it, Vanessa Drigo (Vanderkitten-Focus) was hit from behind and flew into a pole protected by a hay bale, and luckily sustained no injuries.
After a lap or two to recover and give a chance for everyone to rejoin, attacks started again and this time. it stuck. Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide), Kristen LaSasso (Mellow Mushroom), Kori Seehafer (Team Type 1) and Christina Gokey-Smith (NOW & Novartis for MS) were off the front. An interesting mix to say the least with Pezzulo and Gokey-Smith being two strong sprinters, and LaSasso working for her teammate Laura Van Gilder and Seehafer for her teammate Jackie Crowell. Experienced Seehafer rallied the four riders who started working together, pushing the gap up to 5, 10, 15 and 20 seconds. Behind, the chase could not get organized even though Carrie Cash-Wootten (Pedal The Cause) tried to get things moving.
Last year’s onmium winner and late entry Jennifer Purcell (Danbury-Audi) tried to bridge up solo but was reeled in by the field while the four off the front continued to work together. Jenn Reither (Vanderkitten-Focus) took up the chase but the gap was not coming down and the field settled to fight for fifth place.
Seeing that the gap was holding, the four at the front started thinking about the win. Both Gokey-Smith and Pezzulo were happy for it to come down to a sprint while LaSasso and Seehafer wanted to break things up. With four to go, Seehafer put in an attack and sat up when she saw that it was covered. With two to go, it was LaSasso’s turn to attack but it didn’t stick and the four were still together with one lap to go.
Gokey-Smith launched her sprint first but Pezzulo was able to come around her n the finish straightaway for the win, the biggest of her career. Gokey-Smith held on for second, Seehafer was third and LaSasso fourth. Jen McRae (787 Racing) took the field sprint for fifth.
Dillon was taken to the hospital, but she reported on twitter that though banged up, nothing was broken.
The racing continues on Saturday with the Brady Village Criterium, held on an L-shaped course with 6 corners over 8/10 mile (1.3km) in the historic Brady Arts district. The women start at 6:35 pm and race for 60 min.
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Top 10 Results (Complete Results)
|1. Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide Women’s Racin)|
|2. Christina Smith (NOW MS-Society)|
|3. Kori Seehafer ()|
|4. Kristen Lasasso (Mellow Mushroom)|
|5. Jennifer Mcrae (787 Racing)|
|6. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom)|
|7. Erica Allar (RideClean p/b PatentIt.com)|
|8. Jennifer Purcell (Danbury Audi)|
|9. Liza Rachetto (Primal/MapMyRide Women’s Racin)|
|10. Anne Samplonius (NOW MS-Society)|