Crashes were again the main story Sunday when Superweek returned to the Chicago area in Evanston.
With the exception of the masters race and the women's P/1/2/3, every race on the day was suspended at least once while medics tended to fallen riders, and all races were abbreviated. Is it any wonder this race is sponsored by a hospital?
In the P/1/2, Turn 4 proved to be the trouble spot. The first serious crash took out Proctor winner Matt Busche
(IS Corp), sending him to the hospital with deep cuts on his face. The second happened with five laps to go with Tuesday's masters winner Daniel Carruthers
(Hansaton Hearing Systems) hitting the deck hard. It was a scary crash, but he would eventually jump back in to finish the race and even finish in the money.
Racing was suspended each time. During the pauses, I noticed series leader Sterling Magnell
(Rock Racing), clad in custom yellow shorts to match his jersey and knee warmers to cover his bandages, roll up to check on the injured riders and offer supportive words. Classy move, I say.
After the final crash, the race was reset with 10 laps to go in order to give riders a chance to warm back up before going for some big primes. Soon a three-man break formed that included Wednesday's solo winner Jairo Perez Suarez
(Colombia), Tommy Nankervis
(DLP) and Friday's winner Peter Dawson
(Rock Racing), who finished 5th out of a break here in 2007. Dawson must be getting some sprinting lessons from his new teammates because he easily took both the $600 crowd prime and the final sprint for the win.
Rock Racing would thus go home with all three jerseys: white for the stage, yellow for Magnell's overall lead and red for Rahsaan Bahati
, who continued to pad his lead in the sprints competition.
Magnell and Bahati are positioned well to take the $1,500 prize for top overall and the $2,000 prize for sprint points. However, the pro race announcement
states that riders must
race on July 27 in order to be eligible for these prizes. Many of us have been expecting Rock Racing to be racing the $25,000 Chicago Criterium that day. Will Bahati and Magnell have to forfeit their prizes in order to show up on Chicago's JumboTrons? Or will they be compelled to stay in Wisconsin and race in Whitefish Bay instead?
As for the women, the P/1/2/3 series wrapped up with Verducci/Breakaway taking home both the stage and the overall behind sprinter Theresa Cliff-Ryan
, who ended the week as she started it, winning a bunch sprint. Debbie Dust
(Team Kenda Tire) and Devon Haskell
(Team Get a Grip Cycles) were your top Chicago finishers, getting 5th and 9th respectively.
Back to the crashing.
As far as I know, the women P/1/2/3's was the only race without a crash. The women's 3/4's were not as lucky. Jessi Prinner
(ABD) was well off the front when Tamara Fraser
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo) took a hard spill in Turn 4. Prinner was allowed to take the win uncontested, and the rest of the women raced two laps for 2nd place.
The 4/5's and 4's races were surprisingly clean in their early trips through Turn 5, the notorious BK Stacker. About halfway through the 4/5's race, the day's first race, two riders off the back became its first victims. One of them continued to lie there as the pace car came around followed by a five-man break that had formed in the first few laps. Its leader at the time, Nick Gierman
(Vitaminwater-Trek) plowed into the downed Northwestern rider, who now had a chainring-shaped gash across his back to complement his road rash.
The race was then halted. When it resumed, Gierman jumped back in and the break was awarded its estimated gap. Chris Padfield
(Team Pegasus) and Ryan Freund
(IIT) snuck away from the break. They did so so sneakily, they apparently escaped the attention of the officials, who failed to give them a bell with one to go. Thus, on what should have been their final lap, they rolled through casually, confusing anyone who was paying attention. If this were indeed the final lap, Freund would have had an uncontested victory. Instead, they continued to roll for one more lap, and this time they sprinted for it, with Padfield crossing the line first.
Freund would have had a good case for a protest, but he did the sporting thing and instead jumped straight into the 4's race. This race would be unlucky for him again as he would bloody his nose getting caught up in one of that race's crashes at the Stacker.
They day's most violent crash may have come in the 3's race. Two riders tangled about 50 meters from the finish line. High-speed pileups ensued with bikes, wheels and bodies flying through the air and down the road, as captured here in video form
and here in still photography
. Meanwhile, Tomasz Boba
(WDT-Allvoi) escaped the carnage and won his fourth race of the series. Just about anyone who finished behind him was just happy to have gotten through the minefield unscathed.
But aside from the crashes, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the racing? Fast and fun, and Evanston was again a fantastic host. After two years of mayhem in Turns 4 and 5, however, it may well be time to rethink this course. Turn 7 at Downers Grove is the only other corner I can think of that causes this much trouble. Downtown Evanston is the perfect spot for a bicycle race, but perhaps there can be a different route that's just as exciting and spectator-friendly but safer for everyone.
Backing up a day, it was a wet one up in Waukesha. Only about 30 finished the P/1/2 race, finishing a day that got started after a long delay after a set-up truck had to be towed from the course. CyclingNews credits a late $1,000 prime with setting the table for Spencer Beamer
(DLP), who attacked out of a break as the sprinters stood up with three to go. (If that name rings a bell, it may mean you've been perusing my Flickr photos. Here's a photo of Beamer
demolishing the juniors field in 2005 at the beloved Tour of Alpine Valley.)
Waukesha race reports
: "A $1,000 cash prime resulted in disorganization and hesitation in the large breakaway group, allowing opportunist Spencer Beamon (DLP Racing) to get one of the biggest wins of his career with a brave solo move."
(Rock Racing; P/1/2): "I woke up feeling like I'd been hit by a Mack truck. I've never really messed my face up before like this and it's oh so strange."
(Endeavour; 3): "The guy in front of me sat up from complete exhaustion and opened up a huge gap. By the time I closed it, I had 2 seconds to recover for the sprint."
Evanston race reports
(P/1/2): "The officials restarted Jeff Schroetlin
with a small gap but didn't give one to the other riders. With a fresh field behind him, his solo move lasted approximately two blocks."
(Team Get a Grip Cycles; 3): "I narrowly squeaked by the carnage, improving three places from people crashing out in front of me."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; P/1/2): "I did something I've never done in any criterium at any level after being dropped: I chased back on. I couldn't believe I actually made it back into the field."
(Ski Utah; 3): "A rider hit the deck close to my line and a bike was flying through the air right at me. I didn't know if I was going to make it or not."
(Tower Racing; 4): "Sure enough guys to my inside go down. I can feel the breeze from the rider next to me as he hits. I manage to keep cool and not overcorrect. I made it through."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 4): "All around me was absolute carnage. I felt like I was in the eye of a Hurricane as a clinic of bad bike handling was on display."
(Sugar Cycles; 3): "We went from 18 to go to 14 to go after the restart. This caused a large portion of the field to lose their minds!"
(Bearclaw; P/1/2): "Midway between Turns 4 and 5 there was a bit of a lull in the pace, and I attacked. Hard. Went into Turn 5 almost too fast, but I had a gap! Rounded the final turn first. Just me, thousands of people, and massive noise from all angles. I didn't dare look back. What a feeling."
(Team Kenda Tire; W-P/1/2/3): "Things were fast but safe. I only had someone's shift lever shoved into my ass once, so that's pretty good."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 3): "When another racer swung across my line in a corner, I touched my brake --
my front brake --
probably harder than I needed to. D'oh! I went over the handlebars and landed on my chin and chest."
(Vitamanwater-Trek; 4/5, 4): "I got to send a huge thanks out to the medial crew as they were definitely on top of their game today.
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; 3): "My body actually goes inside
the barrier, shoulder first, and I come to a screeching halt and fall on the curb."
(Beverly Bike/Vee-Pak; 4/5, 4): "The team was really starting to steamroll the course and were picking up plenty of places until the race was stopped with eight to go. After the riders were peeled off the pavement in the infamous BK Stacker, the race was lined up for a third time."
(Team Pegasus; 4/5, 4): "Another wreck or three after this I mentally called it quits. Enough. I no longer had the legs to make it back up to the front nor the will."
(Team Pegasus; 4/5): "Holy cripes, this was ridiculous! I stuck with the group for a while but got nerves and fell off the rear at the end of lap five."
(Rock Racing; P/1/2): "Made for an odd outing but we maintained and are focusing on tomorrow now."
(XXX Racing-AthletiCo; P/1/2): "I enter the turn and I see 10 guys on the ground in front of me. I brake hard and swerve to make my way around."
(Kudzu; P/1/2): "I was on the wheel of the guy who wrecked. He took the corner too wide and might have been blinded by the bright setting sun and ended up running into the outside curb/barrier, which sent his bike flying up and back out onto the road right in front of me! I kind of ducked and swerved to avoid the back half of his bike."
(Spidermonkey Cycling; 4/5): "Instant frustration. And the chase group? I guess we didn’t exist. Chase eliminated."
(Alderfer Berger; P/1/2): "It was a blast getting to race 100 feet from my condo. The race went great for me. I felt amazing and was probably the best I have ever felt on my bike."
(Endeavour; 3): "If you find that you are not physically capable of ducking and covering, whatever you do, do not stand up and start walking around without looking what's coming."
(4/5, W-3/4): "Jesse Williams
is off the front, leading Liam Bradshaw
out. The field is now completely strung out. Jesse dumps Liam off at the BK Stacker, who takes two hot corners and a long sprint solo and just edges out an xXx rider for the win."
(Vitaminwater-Trek; 3): "I worked really hard to get to where I was on the last lap and throughout the race and a bit of poor bike handling at 30+ mph did me in along with a few other riders."
Carolyn Golz: 3
, 30+ and 40+