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Jonathan Cantwell came through a number of late crashes at the Blue Dome Criterium to win the opener of the Tulsa Tough omnium Friday night. Cantwell (V Australia) made a late split and took a tight win over Anibal and Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home).
“It was a fast race, it was dangerous,” said Cantwell. “It got really dicey with two laps to go … With all of these corners and potholes in the corners — the lighting’s not as good as it could be — it was really dicey out there.”
Racing got off to a cautiously slow start on rain-slickened roads after a 15-minute weather delay Friday night. The pace stayed low for six laps with Cantwell and Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly-Kenda) among the top sprinters patrolling the front of the bunch. The slow speeds didn’t keep everyone out of danger, however, and roughly a crash per lap took riders down over the opening 20 minutes.
As patches of dry road began to show, the pace ticked up under the pressure of a number of attacks. The danger move emerged from a reshuffle with 10 laps to go. Joseph Schmalz (Elbowz Racing) hit out and was quickly joined by Borrajo, Juan Pablo Dotti (Aerocat) and Daniel Holt (Team Type 1 Development). Two laps later Hanson bridged across a 12-second gap and the five riders worked together to keep their advantage.
The gap came down to eight seconds with six laps remaining, but behind the break, a number of crashes slowed the peloton. A selection of about six riders, including Cantwell and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) made contact with the leaders on the final lap.
Alejandro Borrajo went to the front and drilled the pace, Hanson in his wheel to keep Cantwell’s yellow skinsuit buried in the group. It didn’t work, however, as the Aussie crit champion surfed his way toward the front from seventh wheel on the finish straight. He jumped around Anibal Borrajo 50 meters from the line and took the win on a bike throw.
Among the riders who crashed were Danny Heeley (NOW MS), U.S. elite criterium champion Steve Reaney (Cal Giant-Specialized) and Chris Winn (V Australia).