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Trackies Simes, Lea surprise sprinters at Capital Criterium

A pair of Trexlertown track stars spoiled the day for the sprinters at the USA Crits Capital Criterium on Sunday in Washington, D.C. Jackie Simes (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita) and Bobby Lea (Bahati Foundation) jumped out of a late-race break to hold off the field with Simes taking the win in the final drag to the line down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Simes and Lea, who both live in eastern Pennsylvania and are products of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center velodrome in Trexlertown, Pennsylvania, jumped onto the back of a break with six laps to go. Two laps later, Lea sensed the five-man group was running out of gas and attacked out of turn one on the course’s only hill. Simes soon bridged and the two worked toward the finish on the seven-turn circuit.

“I’ve done so many races with Bobby both locally and on the track, I knew he was the one to watch,” Simes said.

Although Simes was committed to the break, he recognized that back in the bunch, his Jamis squad was fielding some of the race’s fastest sprinters. In the final lap, Simes was content to let Lea take over and pull him to the line.

“We were both going really hard and giving everything to stay away, but at the end I was able to play the team card and sit on until the finish,” he said.

Lea said he realized Simes would sit on, but buried himself all the same.

“When I attacked, I knew that if Jackie went with me, we could hold it to the line,” he said. “At the end, I realized he had some of the strongest sprinters behind him and had every right to just sit on, but that was still my best chance. All I could do at that point was pull as hard as I could to the finish.”

During the initial break, Jamis worked to keep the five-man group in check in case Simes popped off the back. Once Simes headed up the road with Lea, Jamis was content to patrol the front of the pack and cover moves.

As the duo crossed the line, Frank Travieso (Jamis-Sutter Home) jumped with 200 meters to go and held on for third. His teammate Anibal Borrajo followed in fifth with Yosvany Falcon (Bahati) squeezing between in fourth.

The finish capped off a tough one-hour-and-47-minute day in the saddle. The fifth stop on the USA Crits circuit rolled into the District hours after racers wrapped up the previous evening’s Iron Hill Twilight Criterium in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Although the course featured only a gradual 100-meter incline, racers burned extra energy down Pennsylvania Avenue. After heading toward the U.S. Capitol on the famed street, the course took a 180-degree turn, causing riders to slow to around 15 mph before accelerating down the 400-meter straightaway where speeds often exceeded 35 mph.

Between some tired legs in the field and mid-race temperatures topping 90 degrees Fahrenheit, breaks struggled to gain traction throughout the day.

“There was crazy attacking and breakaways the whole race, but nothing went away,” Travieso said. “After about an hour, people started to ease up and look around at each other. They were tired and drinking lots of water. I thought it would be a sprint at the end, but the team is very happy with this result.”

For Lea, it was a productive, yet bittersweet weekend on the USA Crits circuit. Lea was also part of the winning break at Iron Hill that lapped the field, but he was eventually bested in the final sprint to the line by Clayton Barrows (AXA Equitable), earning the first of his two second-place finishes of the weekend.

The weekend also saw Barrows crowned as the new overall points leader in the USA Crits series. Going into Iron Hill, the big sprinter from Laramie, Wyoming, was right on the heels of Isaac Howe (Mountain Khakis-Jittery Joe’s) for the top spot. With Barrows taking the win and Howe, who missed the break, finishing in 16th, Barrows knew he had built up a good gap heading into Capital Crit.

“I didn’t see the point count so I wasn’t sure how big my lead was, I just knew I had to stay with Isaac,” he said. “Right from the start of the race, I knew it was going to be hard because of the effort I put out (at Iron Hill). My whole goal was to keep my lead.”

Howe took sixth at Capital Crit, 10 spots ahead of Barrows, but it wasn’t enough to take back the lead. The two are now separated by 25 points and have a more than 200-point gap on the rest of the field, creating a possible two-man showdown that could carry on throughout the nine-race series.

Barrows is coming off a string of strong finishes. Leading up to Iron Hill, he took second at the Hyde Park Blast and third at Giro d’Grafton.

“My form is improving through the summer,” said Barrows, who plans to race the remaining stops on the USA Crits circuit. The overall has been his goal all season, he added, “and I’m feeling confident I can make it happen.”

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