L39ION of Los Angeles outclassed their competitors once more this Saturday at the Littleton Twilight Criterium, the eighth stop on the American Criterium Cup circuit. Kendall Ryan claimed the familiar top step in the pro women’s field, and Alec Cowan took home the win for the men’s squad.
With the women’s field still missing series leader Maggie Coles-Lyster, who’s representing Canada at the Commonwealth Games, and her DNA Racing squad, the race was open to take a chunk out of her lead in the points competition. ButcherBox’s Andrea Cyr, a close second in those standings, did her best to narrow the gap between her and Coles-Lyster, but Colavita Factor had other ideas. She was bested several times during the intermediate sprints, but still gained enough points to put herself within fighting distance to Coles-Lyster with two races left in the series.
L39ION brought the heat early after the first points sprint after Skyler Schneider attacked solo. With many of the bigger teams uninterested in chasing the move down that early in the race, Caroline Mani (Alpha Groove Silverthorne) went to the front, and motored the peloton to within a comfortable 10 seconds.
Schneider was eventually reabsorbed, which drove Kendall Ryan to counter. The US champ also spent several laps off the front, but a huge pull from a motivated Shannon Koch (Colavita Factor) reset the race once again.
Sam Schneider made another move after the second points sprint, and Heather Fischer (Groupe Abadie-Le Boulou) attempted to bridge.
Fischer faded into the peloton after a few laps, and Mani was left to chase the solo L39ION rider again, who achieved a sizable gap of almost 20 seconds until Twenty24’s Jenn Valente turned it up a notch and brought back Schnieder in just one lap.
The heavens opened up when the race reset at ten laps to go – and Butcherbox brought Cyr to the front once more to get the final points. The points were stolen by Colavita yet again, when Anna Christensen nipped Cyr at the line. Cyr can’t be too disappointed, however, as she’s brought herself within just ten points of Coles-Lyster’s lead in the green jersey competition heading into Momentum Indy on August 27.
L39ION put their train on the front with six to go, with Colavita Factor following close behind. Cyr lost the majority of her lead out train when three of the Butcherbox riders were caught up in a crash with three laps to go, but fortunately, she avoided the pileup.
On the final lap, it was business as usual among the skilled L39ION squad, who delivered Kendall Ryan to the line with ease. Skyler Schneider took second and Anna Christian (Colavita Factor) was an impressive third.
The rain cleared for the start of pro men’s race, but the roads were still wet from the earlier downpour. That didn’t stop pre-race favourite Ty Magner (L39ION) from striking out immediately from the start gun, setting the pace for an aggressive hour-long criterium.
Lance Haidet leapt out from the bunch about 20 minutes after the start, taking advantage of the soaring pace his L39ION team set in the opening laps. The attack prompted four riders to follow, but a lack of cooperation brought the group back after a few laps.
The pace remained intense as the clock touched the halfway point, and another sprint for points stood up for grabs. With Project Echelon’s Brandon Feehery firmly in the lead in that competition, teammate Ethan Craine captured the max points to move into second.
L39ION’s entire squad regained control of the front with 16 laps to go, dissuading any attacks until Brody McDonald (Aevolo) took off with ten laps to go. He was reabsorbed a lap later, and L39ION continued to drive forward with Gavin Hoover leading.
Aevolo tried another move with five laps left – this time with duo Cooper Johnson and McDonald. However, it didn’t make much of a dent in the L39ION’s train, which still had five riders at the front as the bell chimed for the last lap. Miami Blazer’s Clever Martinez had the right idea sitting on Ty Magner’s wheel, but L39ION had a different winner in mind this time around. Magner let off the gas, gapping Martinez from Cowan and Gavin Hoover, who easily took 1-2 in the home stretch.
“I always do this work for the team, and it’s something I love to do,” Cowan said. “We raced into that last corner, and Gavin just did a monster of a pull. I was just pushing up to give it everything. You turn that last corner, and it’s just head down. You just start sprinting. So to come across with the dub, it just feels so good.”
The American Criterium Cup heads to Indianapolis, Indiana, for the next and penultimate stop on the season calendar. Momentum Indy will be held on August 27 and live streamed on outside.tv.