Even though he’s closer to being on the wrong side of 40 than some of the other riders he lines up with every week, Emile Abraham of the Rossetti Devo Cycling Team is in no way counting himself out of this weekend’s Hyde Park Blast in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eighth stop on the 2012 USA CRITS Championship Series.
“I’ve been having good results at the Tour of the Dairyland. I think we should do pretty well this weekend, especially now with Jean-Michel (Lachance) back with us.”
It’s a fair assessment. On top of the handful of top 10’s he seen in Wisconsin over the past week, he won the Hyde Park event in 2009 and was on track to repeat in 2010 when he clipped a wheel in the finale and went down. His leadout man, Juan Pablo Dotti, took the win instead. Apart from being super familiar with what it takes to do well in Cincinnati, Abraham has had some excellent criterium results this year against all manner of top-shelf competition.
Just two weeks ago he took a surprising second place at the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic, behind UnitedHealthcare’s Jake Keough, and was third during the highly competitive Terrapin Twilight Criterium in Athens.
“I haven’t really done or more or less (training). The only thing that’s changed is the bike. From the first time I rode the Rossetti I could feel the difference in the stiffness. So now when I come to the end of a race and sprint, all the power that I put into the pedal goes into and the bike responds 100 percent.”
What he and his squad will be facing this weekend is one of the more distinctive criterium courses in the country. Laid out in basically an L-shaped configuration, the approximately 1-mile circuit creates a good opportunity for a breakaway to survive as it did in 2011. Jamie Driscoll and group of fellow escapees lapped the field, leading to Driscoll’s win for the Jamis-Sutter Home team.
“It’s about 75 percent flat.” says Hyde Park Blast’s technical director, Mitch Graham. “Then there’s a climb up Shady Lane that’s maybe only 3 percent, but it goes from two and a half lanes to one lane, so it’s like a choke point there. Whoever’s in the front at that point, just drills it.”
Abraham appreciates the course’s unique layout.
“I like it, simply because of the technicalities. Those kinds of races bring character to the sport unlike a big wide open (rectangular) criterium. That’s just boring to me.”
If Abraham is once again able to take advantage of his familiarity he has a good chance to creep up from his current fourth place on the USA CRITS overall and possibly get a slot on the podium.
He might have been much closer to wearing the orange jersey of the USA CRITS leader, but he didn’t race the series’ second event (Tucson’s Athlete Octane Old Pueblo Grand Prix), and a crash out of the final turn during the following week’s Presbyterian Invitational Criterium in Charlotte, North Carolina, also cost him.
“The two races that I lost out on in terms of getting points made my deficit, so the most I can do is keep chipping away at their points and try to get a super result where none of them are in the break,” he said. “But it’s going to be hard because all the guys know where I am right now and they all have good teams. So I don’t think they’re going to let me ride up the road like that.”
With four more events in front of him, including the finals in Vail at the end of September, it’s possible that he may be able to score the necessary points to move up the ladder. The team doesn’t have a firm title sponsor in place yet for 2013, but Abraham says that all the effort he’s put into racing this season can still turn that situation around.
“It’s kind of early to say what next year will bring. We’re just trying to make things work for now,” he said. “I would really just like to have my own team at this point and get a sponsor. I’ve been thinking about going to work for someone else (in a director’s role) and take the pressure off me some.
“I still want to race too, and it’s not a problem since I’m still getting good results, but for me my ultimate goal would be for me to have my own team. But we’re still in June, so we’re hoping for the best.”
USA CRITS Overall Standings (after seven events)
- 1. Oscar Clark (UnitedHealthcare of Georgia-The 706 Project), 1453 pts
- 2. Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop), 1434 pts
- 3. Colin Jaskiewicz (Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes), 1378 pts
- 4. Emile Abraham (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team), 1168 pts
- 5. Euris R. Vidal (CRCA-Foundation), 1089 pts
- 6. Gavriel Epstein (Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes), 1057 pts
- 7. Rafael Meran (CRCA-Foundation), 987 pts
- 8. Issac Howe (Kenda-5-Hour Energy), 809 pts
- 9. Alexander Bremer (CRCA-Foundation), 745 pts
- 10. Jean-Michel Lechance (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team), 743 pts