Neo-pro Eric Young took the biggest win of his young career at the Herman Miller Grand Cycling Classic earlier today in wild and wooly weather conditions when he crossed the line first to win the USA Pro Criterium Championships. That made it two consecutive Stars & Stripes for the Bisell Pro Cycling Team at US Pro Crit.
Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) was a very close second with Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare) taking third.
Young said the he never thought he could have a professional national title in his first year. “It’s a funny story, at camp in February, our director Omer (Kem) pinpointed this race for me and a couple of guys, we really wanted to win it. I didn’t really believe that that was in the cards for me but it’s been an incredible year. This team has helped develop so much, they’re just an unbelievable group of guys. It hasn’t set in obviously.” Young said minutes after crossing the line.
“It’s an honor to be able come back next year with Bissell and represent the US in its colors.” added the 22-year old rider, who extended his contract for another year prior to the race. The pressure was on the team to deliver in the sponsor’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Though it is not the first National title for Young, who won the 2010 USA Collegiate Track Points Race, Match Sprints and Omnium title with Indiana University-Bloomington. And Young was part of the Cutters team that won a record-breaking fifth straight Indiana University’s Little 500 race victory.
For the first time, the USA Pro Crit was an All American affair which meant that not only previous years’ tactics did not come into play but that some teams could not field big squads. Two teams however were present with big numbers, Bissell with eight riders and Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth with 13 riders in the 50-rider field. The two teams marked each other on the 6-corner flat 1.2-km course, taking turns attacking and covering attacks with riders from the other teams selectively going with moves. Nothing was sticking and then Mother Nature decided she wanted to play to.
More than halfway through the race, the skies started to darken with massive thunderstorms showing up on the radar. At 25 laps to go, the rain started to fall and when lightning made its appearance, the officials decided to flip the cards to 10 to go to hopefully avoid the coming storm. The attacks intensified as did the wind and the rain and unfortunately crashes. But with less then four laps to go, the officials had to stop the race when the fencing was blown onto the road.
With a National title on the line, officials waited until the weather cleared up, while organizers hustled to remove all the fence boards around the course.
“I think a lot of the teams were caught off guard trying to prepare for Colorado next week. This is our hometown, our main sponsor Bissell is based here so we had a nice little apartment to relax in. We put the clothes in the dryer and relaxed a little bit, who knows that might have been an advantage.” Young said about the break.
45 minutes later the race was re-started with 30 laps to go on the counter, riders dropped were put back in. The reset button was hit as if the previous racing had not happened.
Young added, “But with 30 to go, it was enough of a race at the end that all the guys were going to be active.”
The first lap back was taken gingerly with everyone checking out the very slick course but one lap later, the pace amped up and the racing was back on. Once again, Bissell and KBS-OptumHealth was very active off the front with Kenda and Jelly Belly riders moving up and also attacking. Small gaps were created both at the front and in the field but everything was shut down while riders were slipping and sliding on the wet roads.
With seven laps to go, teams starting massing at the front in preparation for the inevitable sprint finish, but another crash brought a separation leaving five riders off the front. A quick reaction from the UnitedHealthcare team shut down the move one lap later. The swarm was on at the front.
With no teams clearly controlling the field, the final bunch sprint was chaotic with Young passing Huff in the final meters to take the win.
Top 10 Results (Complete Results)
1. Eric Young (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)
2. Charles Huff (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)
3. Jacob Keough (UnitedHealthcare)
4. Isaac Howe (KENDA Pro Cycling presented by GEARGRINDER)
5. Alexander Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies)
6. Frank Travieso (Realcyclist.com)
7. K Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)
8. Ty Magner (Team Type 1)
9. Yosvany Falcon (Realcyclist.com)
10. Eric Schildge (Jamis/Sutter Home)