The USA Cycling National Criterium (NCC) rolled into Anniston, Ala., for the Sunny King Criterium on Saturday. Several thousand fans attended and even more watched a live, online stream of the thrilling event. After the third of 19 events on the calendar, there is a new women’s leader and the men’s standings have tightened dramatically. Additionally, the race’s benefactor, the American Cancer Society, will receive a $10,000 donation from the success of the event.
Women. After winning the pro women’s race in Anniston, Ala., on Saturday, Erica Allar (RideClean-PatentIt.com) jumped from third place in last week’s standings into the top spot of the NCC women’s standings. Allar has racked up 152 points to build a 32-point lead on last week’s standings leader, Nicky Wangsgard (Primal-MapMyRide Women’s Racing), who has slipped to second place. Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), who was the runner up to Allar in Alabama, moved up one spot since last week into third place, six points behind Wangsgard and 24 points ahead of fourth-place Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Team Exergy Twenty12). The third-place finisher at Sunny King, Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) holds fifth place, eight points behind Cliff-Ryan.
The riders from Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies quickly assembled at the front at the start of the 60-minute race. After several unsuccessful attacks, a five-rider breakaway got away from the field. The breakaway included the three women who would earn podium spots. As the strung out lead group reached the uphill finish line, Allar’s sprint provided her a lead of several bike lengths over runner-up Wilcoxson and third-place van Gilder.
After placing six riders in the top 10 of the pro women’s race, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies added 116 points to the 106 it had previously tallied to top the NCC women’s team standings. Primal-MapMyRide Women’s Racing dropped into second place with 120 points, three points ahead of third-place Team Exergy Twenty12. NOW and Novartis recorded 12 points at the Sunny King Criterium and trails Team Exergy Twenty12 by 29 points and leads fifth-place Team TIBCO-To the Top by 16.
Men. Hilton Clarke‘s (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) lead atop the NCC men’s standings has been trimmed to only 19 points by Isaac Howe (Concord, N.H./Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geagrinder). Howe won the pro men’s race in Alabama to add 80 points to his total and jump from third into second place in the standings. Carlos Alzate Escobar (Team Exergy), who finished second to Howe in the race, leapt from fifth into third place, 53 points behind Howe. Last week’s runner up in the standings, Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) did not add to his 90 points and slipped to fourth place, 18 points behind Alzate. After sitting in fourth place in last week’s standings, Jacobe Keough (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) dropped one spot to fifth with 72 points.
The pro men’s race proved to be the most aggressive race of the day. Phil Gaimon (Kenda-5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder), who currently sits in second place on the USA Cycling National Racing Calendar men’s standings, attacked the field early with Ben Chaddock (Team Exergy). The pair built a 30-second lead in the early stages of the 60-lap contest. Gradually, Chaddock fell off Gaimon’s pace and Gaimon rode solo for several laps, grabbing primes. Eventually, the field caught up to Gaimon and when he rejoined the field, several attacks were launched as teams tried to gain an advantage.
The race settled with eight laps remaining and Team Mountain Khakis-Smart Stop, Team Exergy and Kenda-5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder began to form their leadouts at the front of the field. Howe utilized his team’s leadout to sprint to the finish line ahead of Alzate and Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home), who finished second and third, respectively.
UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis’ lead atop the NCC men’s team standings has been trimmed to 69 points after the Sunny King Criterium. Jamis-Sutter Home, bolstered by two riders placing in the top six of the pro men’s race, trimmed 35 points off its deficit remains in second place. Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geagrinder has also narrowed its margin by 40 points for second place to only two points. Team Exergy overtook Team Type 1 for fourth place, holding a slim two-point cushion on Team Type 1.
USA Cycling NCC Standings:
1. Hilton Clarke (AUS/UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) — 180
2. Isaac Howe (Concord, N.H./Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder) — 161
3. Carlos Alzate Escobar (COL/Team Exergy) — 108
4. Alejandro Borrajo (ARG/Jamis-Sutter Home) — 90
5. Jacobe Keough (Sandwich, Mass./UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) — 72
1. Erica Allar (Tucson, Ariz./RideClean-PatentIt.com) — 152
2. Nicky Wangsgard (Cedar City, Utah/Primal-MapMyRide Women’s Racing) — 120
3. Jade Wilcoxson (Talent, Ore./Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) — 114
4. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Cedar Springs, Mich./Team Exergy Twenty12) — 90
5. Laura van Gilder (Cresco, Pa./Mellow Mushroom) — 82
Men’s Team Standings
1. UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis — 275
2. Jamis-Sutter Home — 206
3. Kenda 5 Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder — 204
4. Team Exergy — 116
5. Team Type 1 — 114
Women’s Team Standings
1. Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies — 222
2. Primal-MapMyRide Women’s Racing — 120
3. Team Exergy Twenty 12 — 117
4. NOW and Novartis for MS — 88
5. Team TIBCO/To the Top — 72
For complete standings, visit the NCC’s official webpage at usacycling.org/ncc.
The USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar continues in two weeks as the men and women will compete in USA Crits Speed Week in Georgia and South Carolina from May 4-6. The first day features the Spartanburg Regional Classic in Spartanburg, S.C., on May 4 before the Electric City Circuit in Anderson, S.C. on May 5. The Global Imports Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge in Sandy Springs, Ga., on May 6 concludes the weekend of racing.