NEW YORK CITY (VN) — Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare) sprinted to victory in the 39th Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic on Sunday.
A seven-rider break including Bobby Lea (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAir HFA) had been off the front with 10 laps to go in the 50-mile race, holding a 10-second gap with UnitedHealthcare chasing.
Lea took a flyer out of the break going into six laps to race and quickly built a gap on the tight, 0.75-mile square around New York City’s Marcus Garvey Park.
“It was a bit too early but the guys I was with were slowing down a bit,” he said afterward.
Next time around the bunch was closing in on Lea’s erstwhile break-mates, but Lea was actually extending his advantage, to 17 seconds.
The UHC train swept up the break and went after Lea, who was starting to lose a little steam with four laps remaining.
With three laps remaining Lea held just 10 seconds’ advantage and the pack was closing in. Six UHC riders were on the sharp end of the chase, and Lea was looking over his shoulder.
With two laps to go it was all over — Lea sat up and UHC drove past.
There were still three UHC riders out front as the bunch drove into the final left-hand corner. Hilton Clarke led out Keough — and Keough delivered, taking the victory ahead of Emile Abraham (Rossetti Devo) and Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop).
Asked whether he and the team had been concerned that the break might survive, Keough replied, “Any breakaway that late in the race is dangerous.”
But he added: “The guys were strong, we had it under control. “The guys worked for me — they were awesome.”
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for more from the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic.