Save for the first and last five laps of Sunday's P/1/2 race at the inaugural Chicago Criterium, I could have sworn we were watching a training ride go through Grant Park.
But what a training ride it was!
About 20 minutes into the 80km race, an enormous, 20-strong group formed that included multiple representatives of all the major teams (above). Two from Toyota-United, two from Bissell, two from Texas roadhouse and four
from Kelly Benefit Strategies, not to mention Frank Pipp
(Health Net) and Chris Horner
(Astana). Once this group came together, it was lights out for the field. Except for some large primes, including a big field prime where Ivan Dominguez
(Toyota-United) pipped Freddie Rodriguez
(Rock Racing) with a monster throw and a $1,000 prime won by Josh Carter
(ABD/Geargrinder), the next hour was not exactly the most exciting racing we've ever seen.
Finally with 10 laps to go, fireworks started happening in the break, largely led by Graham Howard
(Bissell) and Adam Bergman
(Texas Roadhouse). With five to go, five riders separated for good, including Horner, who in his inimitable way appeared to be the only one not taxed by the effort. It was 2007 Evanston Grand Prix winner Bergman, however, who attacked on the backside and crossed the line with several bike lengths over Dominique Rollin
(Toyota-United) in 2nd and David Veilleux
(Kelly Benefit Strategies) in 3rd. The amateur Bergman also won the $1,000 halfway prize on top of his $5,000 for the win.
Team Tibco brough its heavy hitters to bear on the women's P/1/2/3 race, including former Evanston resident and ace sprinter Brooke Miller
. After several of her teammates had made some attempts off the front, Amber Rais
finally broke free alone with about 20 minutes to go, quickly creating a 45-second lead for herself, and it became a race for 2nd place. Junior Samantha Schneider
(Mesa Cycles) would win that race for 2nd, with Miller rounding out the podium in 3rd.
Earlier, the women's 4's race was dominated by Jeannie Kuhajek
from New Zealand, who scooped up several primes on her way to winning the bunch sprint.
In a fast 3's race, Ren-Jay Shei
(Team Tortuga) shocked the field by slipping away by himself in the final laps and holding a slim lead all the way, followed by Tim Henry
(Project 5 Racing) and Matt Smith
(Vitaminwater-Trek) in the field sprint. After a rough Superweek for the 3's, the race was thankfully incident-free, save for a hard crash on the final corner (I'm not aware of any injuries).
In the masters 4/5's race, the first three through the final corner were the first three aross the finish line: Nate Iden
(Spidermonkey Cycling), Newt Cole
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo) and Ed Ekstrom
(Tower Racing). Several breaks threatened in a loaded masters 1/2/3 race, but it came down to a sprint, where Derek Witte
(Bissell) took it ahead of Dave Scherer
(MetCycling) and Adam Lesniakowski
(Team Pegasus) had targeted this weekend and executed to perfection: After winning Saturday at Downer Avenue, he rode up front the entire 4's race Sunday, attacking hard on the last lap and holding a large gap all the way to the line.
The juniors race appeared destined for a two-up sprint, but a hard-working chase caught the break in the final laps. Downers Grove's Adam Kosela
(Bikeline) then sprinted for the win in one of the day's closest sprints, just ahead of Chazz Martin
And in the morning's very first races, XXX Racing-AthletiCo won both 5's heats behind Tom Briney
and Dave Moyer
, not to mention a sizable contingent of teammates in support.
All in all, everyone seemed thrilled with the event. Great weather, perfect organization and fun racing --
let's do this again!
. (Note that Rodriguez and Kayle Leogrande
(Rock Racing) are swapped.)
(Vitaminwater-Trek; P/1/2): "I rode up to some Toyota United guys, one of whom was Ivan Dominguez
. I sat on his wheel coming out of the final turn as we were getting the bell. I happily pointed this out to my teammates, literally, by happily pointing to Dominguez as we rode by them."
(Tower Racing; 30+ 4/5): "With three laps to go the pace bumps up a little and I can still see the Tower colors flying high at the front of the race."
(Project 5; 3): "I asked Tim Henry
to let me know when he wanted to move up. Before he even was able to respond he saw an opening and took it and left me there sitting mid pack."
: "There were more attacks but with a smaller group the marking was much easier, especially when you are Horner or Rollin. But not as easy when you are a wild card in the group, as was Bergman."
(Sugar Cyles; 3): "I hit the last turn full-tilt and then it happened: Some morons decided to dive into the last turn and take me out from the side."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): "Several times I'd try to move up, but the 119 riders in the field managed to fill the spacious course and made moving up quite the chore."
(Team Kenda Tire; W-P/1/2/3): "Like any good team should, Tibco pretty much neutralized anything that tried to bridge to Amber which made it clear that we were at that point racing for 2nd place."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; W-P/1/2/3): "Bike racing is humbling. I hadn't forgotten that, I just haven't been so thoroughly humbled in a while."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 4): "The break is only as strong as the weakest rider and I was that rider today."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; P/1/2): "At the second to last corner I was fourth wheel and proud of myself. What happened in the next 300 meters is a blur, save for the absolute insanity of people diving this way and that."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 30+ 4/5): "Someone dives in front of me, stuffs their pedal into my front wheel and down I go."
(Nuvo Cultural Trail; P/1/2): "I was 5 meters off his wheel and starting to die. I looked at my computer: 58 kph! I immediately decided that was enough of that shit and sat up. The pack swallowed me and I went about 60 places back before I started to recover."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "The pack was really moving down Columbus and the second time down Jackson, the front 15 already gapped the rest of the field leaving the rest of us to try and form groups."
(Team Tibco; W-P/1/2/3): "17-year-old Sam Schneider most certainly made me pay for my bad finish focus! She had a great sprint and I did not have enough time to grab her on the line. Hat’s off to her for a great finish!"
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 30+ 4/5): "Not knowing if Jeff was OK --
he’d crashed hard at Evanston just a week earlier --
took all the fight out of me."
(Beverly Bike/VeePak; 30+ 4/5): "With just a few laps to go in the race Tony Rienks
made a move on the backside of the course that I happened to catch on the Jumbotron just as he jumped."
(Team Pegasus; 4): "I knew I was not where I wanted or needed to be, but nothing to do about it now other than dish out the hurt to everyone else and see how it shakes out."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 5): "Dave Moyer
livens things up for a lap to try and break the field. It did some damage and strung us all out and as soon as they were done, some unattached rider countered to prolong the agony going into the kicker on Balbo."
(Spidermonkey Cycling; 4): "It was long enough and somewhat technical enough to make it interesting. The turns and the bend at Congress forced me to plan my advances up the field."
(Team Tortuga; 3): "With me being the only Tortuga rider there and with a few other teams having like five or more guys in, I figured I should play it smart. It worked out."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 30+ 1/2/3, 3): "On the last lap, Ren-Jay made a good move and people just watched. I watched too, but I was also yelling my fool head off in the hopes that someone would make it fast."
: (4, 5, 30+ 4/5, W-4): "Was this an omen of some sort? Should I advise our little elephant to sit this one out?"
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 3): " I moved up with him, but was pinched on the inside as riders from the right started to converge on the apex of the turn. It was an aggressive move and I was confident everyone would make it though OK. I was wrong and my hole closed on me and down I went."
(Team Pegasus; 5): "I was pedaling down harder and harder to get up to the front two. The rider in 2nd place was beginning to lose it. This was all the motivation I needed."
Jason Knauff: P/1/23
, 30+ 1/2/3
Second City Warehouse