Day two of the Missouri Professional Cycling Series saw top class fields contest the most recent round of the USA Crits on the streets of the Grove neighborhood in St. Louis, MO. With 150 riders in the men’s race and over 50 racers in the women’s field, all the top NRC teams were represented as perfect weather greeted the fields for an afternoon of full tilt crit racing.
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Once again the team of Vanderkitten-Focus took the responsibility for the women’s race and set about a plan to send as many riders clear of the field as possible. Early on in the race, Ruth Winder took the initiative and forged out a tenuous lead before the collective will of the field brought her back. Time and again, the favorable weather conditions proved unfavorable to breakaway attempts and solo move after solo move was brought back to heel. Aggressive riding wasn’t limited to the Vanderkitten-Focus team as Debbie Milne of MSMOC put on a one-woman show of near constant attacking. No moves on the day were given any leash and the most any break gained on the field was a scant ten seconds. Heading into two laps to go, Vanderkitten were still sending riders off the front in attempt to prevent the inevitable sprint from happening. In the end, it all came to naught for the team as Erica Allar from RideClean/PatentIt.com solidified her overall series lead by taking the win ahead of Friday night’s winner Samantha Schneider and Laura van Gilder.
On the men’s side of things, it seemed as if the entire race was an exercise in futility for the 150 rider field against the collective strength of UnitedHealthcare and their sprint train. With the field strung out for the duration of the seventy-five minute race, breakaways were few in the making and the pressure was on from the start. A three man break enjoyed a ten second lead at the forty minute mark only to be absorbed two laps later, demonstrating how hard escape was on the day. Finally, nearly an hour into the race, Christian Helmig of Elbowz racing broke clear with Jeff Pendleberry to carve out a maximum sixteen second lead for nearly twenty minutes. Heading into three laps to go, Helmig took the $50 prime on offer before the chase from the field lead by Adam Myerson of Mountain Khakis shut down the remaining five second gap. Once together, UnitedHealthcare took to the front and delivered sprinter Robert Förster to a commanding win ahead of teammate Hilton Clarke and Mountain Khakis’ Luke Keough.
The Missouri Professional Cycling Series heads to St. Louis’s Duthtown neighborhood on Sunday to close out the weekend and the more demanding course might see a loosening of the stranglehold the field has had on breakaways thus far. With two stages down and sprints across the board, opportunists will be looking to take something away from the weekend. However, if the demonstration at the Tour de Grove is anything to go by, the series leaders will continue to flex their muscle to take out the wins.