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Luke Lamperti sprints to victory at 2021 U.S. national criterium championships

Luke Lamperti, 18, of Trinity Racing survived late crashes to win the 2021 U.S. national criterium title.

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Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing) powered to the U.S. criterium national title after a crash-marred final lap in downtown Knoxville, Tennessee.

Lamperti, a member of the U.S. junior and Under-23 national team, survived a crash coming out of the final corner to take the biggest result of his budding career. So chaotic was the final lap that announcers required several minutes to identify Lamperti as the winner.

“I definitely wanted [to win] and I knew i was capable of it,” Lamperti said at the finish. “A lot can go on in a crit — it’s not always who’s the best, a lot can happen.”

Adding to Lamperti’s surprise victory are his age — he’s only 18 — and the fact that he competed without any teammates.

Indeed, Lamperti flew under the radar in the elite men’s criterium, as most of the attention was focused on the powerhouse criterium teams L39ion of Los Angeles, as well as U.S. domestic pro teams Elevate-Webiplex, Aevolo Cycling, and Wildlife Generation.

With its dominating victories at last weekend’s Tulsa Tough, L39ion of Los Angeles spent much of the race patrolling the front, with additional horsepower added by the Best Buddies squad of reigning U.S. criterium champion Travis McCabe.

Lamperti (second from right) training with the U.S. national team in 2019. Photo: Fred Dreier

The course traced a winding lap through downtown Knoxville, and on each lap, the peloton tackled hills, tight corners, descents.

Lamperti said he had his eyes on L39ion of Los Angeles, to see how the race was going to play out. Without teammates he was at a sizable disadvantage in the race.

“Everyone knew L39ion was going to do a good lead-out like always, and everyone wanted to try something different,” Lamperti said. “Everyone saw how they raced at Tulsa and knew if you followed you weren’t going to come around.”

Coming into the final lap L39ion patrolled the front of the race, with surges by Wildlife Generation and Aevolo upping the pace. Then, with three corners remaining, the Elevate-Webiplex duo of Sam Bassetti and Eric Young sprung from the field, just as riders hit the barriers and caused a crash.

The pileup took down McCabe, as well as riders from Project Echelon, Team Clif Bar, and other squads. Up ahead, Lamperti surfed the wheels of Young and Bassetti and then unleashed his sprint for the win.

“Everyone was fighting for that and it was quite hectic,” Lamperti said. “There was a crash and I was able to navigate back up to Sam Bassetti’s wheel — who’s also a hometown guy — I was able to get to his wheel and jump on the last corner.”

“I went on the left side and everyone went wide, and I think people caught the barriers wide and I was able to get around it,” Lamperti added.

Lamperti hails from Sebastapol, California, and was a product of the Swift Racing program run by Laura Charameda. He and his older brother — 2019 junior national road champion Gianni Lamperti — grew up racing together and eventually joined the Lux-Sideshow development squad of Roy Knickman.

Lamperti blossomed on the Lux squad, and spent multiple years racing overseas with the U.S. national squad in Belgium and The Netherlands. In 2019 he was second on a stage of the Tour du Pays de Vaud, a Nation’s Cup junior race in Switzerland. He also claimed the mountains classification at Canada’s Tour de l’Abitibi, finishing second on two separate stages.

He recently took his first victory in Europe — a stage of the Tour d’Eure-et-Loir, a stage race in France.

Lamperti said he heads back to Europe in a few weeks to continue his European campaign.

“Just actually came back here from Italy — back here, then home for a few weeks to California, and then back over,” he said.

USA Cycling criterium national championships

Elite Men

  1. Luke Lamperti, Trinity Racing, 1:17:02
  2. Samuel Bassetti, Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling
  3. Eric Young, Elevate-Webiplex Pro Cycling
  4. John Heinlein III, Project Echelon
  5. Eric Brunner, Aevolo
  6. Connor Sallee, Butcherbox Cycling
  7. Evan Hartig, Project Echelon
  8. Tyler Stites, Aevolo
  9. Andrew Giniat, CS Velo Racing
  10. Alex Hoehn, Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling, all at s.t.