Heading into the final day of the 21st THF Realty Gateway Cup, the skies cleared for a technical ten-corner course to close out the annual series of Labor Day criteriums in St. Louis, MO.
The men’s race at the Benton Park Classic was an explosive affair as the field launched break after break to shatter the group on the most demanding course of the weekend. As the riders rolled off from the start line, the aggression began almost instantly with Jelly Belly sending riders on a full assault on the field. Their bombastic riding drew fifteen riders clear to shape the first third of the race as Kenda/5-Hour Energy and Cole House of Competitive Cyclist chased from behind. Once the initial break was reigned in, Jelly Belly continued the hostilities by sending Sean Mazich off, taking five other riders with him including Pat Lemieux of Kenda/5-Hour Energy, Brian Jensen of Tradewind and Australian transplant Nick Chevalley of Gateway Harley Davidson.
The break, which also included Robert White of RACC p/b Geargrinder and Colton Jarisch of Mercy, worked cohesively to pry over a minute from the field before Chris Kriek bridged the gap to bring the group to seven and lend a hand to team mate Mazich. Behind, the field exploded with repeated counter attacks, each featuring an attentive Jelly Belly rider. Overall leader Brad Huff stayed calm in the field while his team mates ran damage control, keeping a close eye on his only overall challenger Isaac Howe of Kenda/5-Hour Energy. As the finish approached, Mazich distanced his breakaway companions to take an emphatic win over White and teammate Kriek. Huff maintained the overall, with Mazich moving into second and the ever-consistent Howe rounding out the omnium in third.
As aggressive as the men’s race was, the women’s race seemed equally subdued. Despite being served a tactical and challenging course, no riders seemed interested in breaking clear. Most surprising was the relative calm of the Vanderkitten-Focus team who, despite their strength in numbers and an attacking spirit, looked resigned to an inevitable sprint finish. With no breakaways to contend with, Laura van Gilder’s Mellow Mushroom teammate, Kristen LaSasso, set a hard tempo for the first half of the race that discouraged any would be attackers.
Heading into the final lap, van Gilder moved to the front and made the sprint a formality, taking an emphatic win to sweep all four days of the Gateway Cup and cement the overall in the process. Second place went to fourteen-year-old phenom Skylar Schneider (TIBCO) who follows in the footsteps of older sister Sam as one of the next big things in domestic women’s cycling. Rounding out the podium, Kristen Meshberg of Spidermonkey cycling took the best result of her weekend. After four wins in four days, van Gilder easily locked down the overall in front of Schneider and local hero Carrie Cash-Wooten (Pedal the Cause), who took the final step.
Top 5 Women Gateway Cup Benton Park Classic (Complete results)
1. Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom)
2. Skylar Schneider (Tibco II)
3. Kristen Meshberg (Spidermonkey Cycling)
4. Maura Kinsella (Vanderkitten-Focus)
5. Carrie Cash-Wooten (Pedal the Cause)
Top 5 Men Gateway Cup Benton Park Classic (Complete results)
1. Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling)
2. Robert White (RACC p/b Geargrinder)
3. Chris Kriek (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling)
4. Colton Jarisch (Mercy Cycling Team)
5. Pat Lemieux (Kenda/5-Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder)
Top 5 Women Gateway Cup Omnium
1. Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) 100 points
2. Skylar Schneider (Tibco II) 51
3. Carrie Cash-Wooten (Pedal the Cause) 50
4. Vanessa Drigo (Vanderkitten-Focus) 48
5. Amy McGuire (FCS|ROUSE: p/b Mr. Restore) 42
Top 5 Men Gateway Cup Omnium
1. Brad Huff (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling) 62 points
2. Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling) 59
3. Isaac Howe (Kenda/5-Hour Energy p/b Geargrinder) 56
4. Chris Kriek (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling) 53
5. Ricardo van der Velde (Jelly Belly Pro Cycling) 49