Downtown St. Charles, Illinois, and the Fox River was the backdrop for the inaugural Sammy’s St. Charles Prairie State Criterium. Infused with the energy of title sponsor Sammy’s Bikes, St. Charles welcomed nearly 350 riders plus fans with racing complemented by party tents, an expo, live music, massive BBQs, a family ride and more over the course of eight hours on this brilliant summer day.
The excitement built early on in the day as local riders and their fans brought action to the streets, including a maxed out Cat 4/5 field for the eight-tenths of a mile technical course. A light mist teased the heavy air as to Pro Women took to the line but once the whistle blew, a flawless evening ensued.
The Pro Women’s field featured international competition from the U.S., New Zealand, Columbia and Canada. Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies and Team Columbia dominated a majority of the race with Team Optum’s powerhouse Jade Wilcoxson taking command by lapping the field. Wilcoxson teammate Lex Albrecht and Team Columbia’s Serika Guluma Ortiz easily took the second and third spots on the podium, respectively.
With a starting field of 81 Pro Men, which included freshly awarded US Pro Criterium Champion Ken Hanson (Team Optum) in his Stars and Stripes along with hearty squads from Team Optum, Kenda 5-Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder, Team Exergy, Wonderful Pistachios, and Team Astella’s Oncology p/b ABD, among others, the next 90 minutes promised to be a wild ride.
Halfway through the race, a nine-man break emerged and reigned supreme for a large stint. The line-up: Team Optum’s Mike Friedman and Scott Zwizanski, Kenda Pro Cycling’s Pat Lemieux, Chad Hartley and Isaac Howe, Team Exergy’s Conor Mullervy, Team Astella’s Brandon Feehery, Team Columbia’s Jairo Perez Suarez, and Ryan Freund of Enzo’s Cycling.
With around a dozen laps to go, Zwizanki and Freund took a flyer off the front as the break split off with now six chasing as Hartley dropped off. Zwizanski teammate Friedman caught the duo with nine laps remaining. In the end, the animated crowd saw Friedman take the win with Zwizanski landing second and local favorite Freund grabbing third. Team Columbia’s Perez put forth a valiant effort for fourth.
The Sammy’s St. Charles Prairie State Criterium was produced by Midwest Cycling Series, LLC, the promoters of the Tour of American’s Dairyland (ToAD) presented by Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, an 11-day cycling omnium across 11 Wisconsin communities every June. The Sammy’s St. Charles Prairie State Criterium was the inaugural race of the official Prairie State Cycling Series, which will be in full swing next July in multiple Illinois cities and feature the same caliber of safe courses, on-time starts, intense competition, healthy payouts, and best-in-class professionalism that racers have come to expect and experience during ToAD races.