The NOW & Novartis for MS team has been knocking at the door all week at the St Francis Tulsa Tough, racing aggressively, sending riders off the front in the first two criteriums and this time, it worked for the new team in its fourth race since its inception.
Stay tuned for riders’ reactions and more photos
The heat, the hard racing over the past two days and the short but steep Cry Baby Hill took a toll on the women’s peloton in the Riverview Criterium. While no riders were coming off the front, many were shelled off the back in the race of attrition with both Primal/MapMyRide and NOW & Novartis taking turns at the front.
The field stayed together as they climbed Cry Baby Hill replete with costumed fans, a band, water hoses and water guns and a very enthusiastic crowd. There was so many people that it was difficult to move forwards in the peloton on the hill making it imperative to be at the front at the bottom of the climb.
Mellow Mushroom’s Kristen LaSasso and Vanderkitten-Focus’ Vanessa Drigo tried to escape early on but it wasn’t working. Anne Samplonius (NOW-Novartis), who had been non-stop attacking the previous two crits, was waiting. Also waiting in the field and marking each other were the sprinters, including omnium leader into the race Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal/MapMyRide), Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom), last year’s omnium winner Jennifer Purcell (Danbury Audi), Jen McRae (787 Racing) and Christina Gokey-Smith (NOW-Novartis).
A large $500 prime with 9 laps to go upped the speed with Robin Farina (NOW-Novartis) taking it. As soon as the field recovered from the sprint, LaSasso attacked but she was quickly reeled in. A crash and short-lived attacks disrupted the front but Primal/MapMyRide and NOW-Novartis took back their positions at the front.
Finally, Samplonius was ready to go. At the top of the hill, just before the rollers, she attacked while the field was recovering from the climb with 3 laps to go. With everyone tired and thinking about the omnium points, Samplonius quickly got a gap of almost 20 seconds. She held it to the finish, with plenty of time to zip up on the finish straightaway and claimed the first victory for her team.
Meanwhile, the field sprint was on with placings extremely important for the overall omnium. Purcell took second, Allar third and Gokey-Smith fourth. That fourth place was enough to hoist Gokey-Smith atop the overall, claiming the second win for the team.
Top 10 Riverview Criterium Results (Complete Results)
|1. Anne Samplonius (NOW & Novartis For MS) 01:00:45.0|
|2. Jennifer Purcell (Danbury Audi) 01:00:51.0|
|3. Erica Allar (RideClean p/b PatentIt.com) 01:00:51.0|
|4. Christina Smith (NOW & Novartis For MS) 01:00:51.0|
|5. Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) 01:00:52.0|
|6. Kori Seehafer (Team Type 1) 01:00:52.0|
|7. Emily Collins (Vanderkitten-Focus 01:00:52.0) 01:00:52.0|
|8. Debbie Milne (Absolute Racing/ MSMOC) 01:00:52.0|
|9. Kate Chilcott (FCS Cycling Team) 01:00:52.0|
|10. Carrie Cash-Wootten (Pedal the Cause) 01:00:53.0|
Tulsa Tough Omnium
1. Christina Gokey-Smith (NOW-Novartis for MS)