The Superweek buzz is thus far cautiously optimistic. One can't yet set their watch by start times, but delays haven't been outrageous, and most riders I've talked to are happier with the way things are going this year.
The most positive change has been the addition of the Elgin Cycling Classic course. It was much more technical than the road races we're accustomed to, but it was a great stretch of residential road. The best part was that it was a closed-road course, which felt very pro, and the intersections were all well-marshaled. (I confess I flinched when I saw police cars at the intersections. I fully expected the klaxons to light up so we could be scolded for not riding single-file. Such is riding in the northwest suburbs.)
Pavement was excellent except for the final three turns, which caused some trouble in some races, including a violent crash at the end of the 4/5's race. A hush fell as one rider walked through the crowd with what was once a bike but had become no more than a collection of parts, with tires peeled from crushed rims and chainring taco'd.
Highlights from the weekend's racing:
» After getting shut out of Friday's action, local riders fared better in the Blue Island P/1/2 race. Ryan Freund
(ABD) was in a break long enough to pick up some sprint points, and then sprinter Josh Carter
(ABD) won the race with a bike throw.
» Nobody I've talked to can remember a 3's break lapping the field, but that's what happened Saturday when seven riders made it all the way around. XXX Racing-AthletiCo and WDT-Allvoi each had two riders in the break, but once the field was lapped, XXX Racing-AthletiCo was able to tap its other teammates for leadouts, leading to Peter Strittmatter
winning the sprint and the race and Jacques Cartier
to come in 3rd. WDT-Allvoi settled for 2nd and 4th from Ricardo Otero
and Waylon Janowiak
, the same pair that made the break a week before in Wood Dale.
» Ernie Ciccolini
(Van Wagner/Yojimbo's) has been campaigning for an upgrade all year. Surely he sealed the deal Saturday by winning both the 4/5's and the 30+ 4/5's. In the photo above he looks remarkably casual as the Cat 2 trackie sprints to win the latter.
» La Grange Park's Matt Silvia
(King Keyser) has an impressive dirt pedigree, but we've not seen much of him on the road. His Superweek has been notable, having placed 4th and 2nd in the 4/5's and 30+ 4/5's at Blue Island, and then 6th in Elgin.
» Elgin's P/1/2 finish had an international flair, with only one American in the top 8. The rest hailed from South Africa, Australia, Holland and Taiwan. Saturday's winner Carter finished 9th and starts the week in 7th overall.
» Colavita/Sutter Home is thus far having its way with the women's P/1/2/3 series. None of its three riders have finished outside the top five, and Nicky Wansgard
sits atop the overall. Local rider Jeannie Kuhajek
(Team Mack) is holding her own, picking up some sprint points at Blue Island and coming in 8th at Elgin.
» Burnham Racing and XXX Racing-Athletico made up about a third of the 3's field Sunday, so once an acceptable five-man break came together as the 3's passed the women's peloton, it came together for good, building up a two-minute gap. It was Joe Bippus
(South Chicago Wheelmen) who got the biggest benefit, however, launching an early sprint to drop what was left of the break, ahead of state criterium champion Jeff Wat
(Burnham Racing) in 2nd.
In other Superweek news, Andy Garrison tells me he expects Rock Racing to show up Wednesday with eight riders, and he expects Mike Friedman (Garmin-Slipstream) soon too. Former national criterium champion Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) also is joining us this week after racing the Tour de Champaign. Garrison also reports that official Dave Fowkes has designed some barrier improvements at Evanston to reduce the annual crash-fests in Turns 4 and 5.
Full Blue Island results
. Full Elgin results
Blue Island reports
(Wheelfast; 30+ 4/5): "A rush of adrenaline took control over my tongue and I screamed, 'Gosh darn it, Endure It!'"
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 3): "Someone in our break jumped to the pack. That was when chaos took over."
: "Carter got in to prime position with the help of teammate Ryan Freund
and launched his jump coming out of the final corner."
(Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak): "It was unintentional and totally not my style."
(W-P/1/2/3): "The Hub train came apart around the final turn as the hard charging colavita bunch came to
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 30+ 1/2/3): "What’s the number one rule in a break? Don’t get dropped from it. This is what I kept telling myself."
(Iron Cycles; 4/5): "A South Chicago Wheelmen rider was on point and did an awesome job setting a good tempo. Usually there are people swarming to the front and then hitting the brakes, not wanting to do any work once they get there."
(Spidermonkey Cycling; 4/5): "Boom, another crash in front of me in the last turn. I stayed up and then I attempted to sprint to the finish."
(P/1/2): "On the last lap Juan and Hector were perfectly placed for the sprint when on the second to last corner were cut off and forced them to scramble back towards the front of the peloton"
Blue Island photos
(Wolverine Sports Club; 30+ 1/2/3): "It was a race that was pretty technically and strategically sound."
: "'I'm really a wuss, if you want to know the truth.'"
(Tower Racing; 4/5): "I wanted to make certain to be first into the first dangerous turn first and set up Ed and Don for a sprint finish. It was perfectly scripted."
(W-P/1/2/3): "Can Colavita sprint like this for two weeks or can Hub push them into eventual submission?"
(Flatlandia; 4/5): "I decided it was all or nothing. Work my way through the crash, put my head down and start to hammer."
(Mercy; P/1/2): "I cramped to the point of seeing striations in my quads, then decided to be a cheerleader for the remainder."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 30+ 4/5): "I lost my nerve as the swarm came and when I saw racers taking big risks all around me, and I gave up precious positions until I found myself in the middle of the pack."
(Team Tati; 30+ 4/5): "I joined a small group of other laggards, which always makes the penitence easier. In those situations I like to fantasize that I am in a breakaway group, escaping from an imaginary pack barely two corners behind."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4/5): "I could hear the tires of another rider to my right so I put my head down and sprinted it out for 4th place."
(Iron Cycles; 4/5): "I had a bad feeling about that turn before the race, and now I know why. I ass- and elbow-skidded until running into the curb."