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Maggie Coles-Lyster outsprints rivals to victory in Harlem Classic

Coles-Lyster wins Criterium Cup race the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic after Tulsa disappointment.

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Maggie Coles-Lyster of DNA Pro Cycling outsprinted her rivals to victory at the Harlem Skyscraper Cycling Classic Juneteenth celebration. The race is the fourth stop of the inaugural American Criterium Cup series.

After missing out on the top step at Tulsa Tough and Armed Forces Classic, Coles-Lyster was hungry for the win. DNA had only two riders on hand, including Kim Lucie, with many of their riders prepping for nationals next week.

The Canadian sprinter broke down her race to win with VeloNews.

“It was very exciting. Obviously, Tulsa last weekend didn’t quite go the way we wanted,” Coles-Lyster said. “After winning at Joe Martin, I know I really have it in me this year. To get this one is super cool, especially because we only had two of us here.”

Also read: Coles-Lyster steals victory on final day in Joe Martin Stage Race

The Utah-based squad was up against a full, six-rider outfit from L39ion of Los Angeles, including Skylar Schneider direct off her win at Tulsa Tough, and US National Crit Champion, Kendall Ryan.

Coles-Lyster had arrived in Harlem with a 63-point lead ahead of ButcherBox Andrea Cyr in the series, and a 25-point lead in the sprint classification. DNA was also right on the heels of Colavita Factor Pro Cycling in the team classification, and is expected to surpass them with Sunday’s win.

“Our goal was to protect the ACC lead and sprint jersey so I went for the first and midway sprint primes,” Coles-Lyster added.

The course was located in the heart of Harlem in New York City, between 120th and 119th street.

Following a 35-minute delay, the traditional four-corner course led to a competitive race. After the first sprint prime, each L39ion rider took their turn attacking the field. CWA Racing and Colavita Factor also got in the mix, attempting to escape from the field.

“The race was fast the whole way,” Coles-Lyster said. “There were too many riders on different teams, and so riders in the field would chase them down. It was perfect for us. Kim was able to go in some breaks, leaving me to sit in and follow if something looked crucial. I could do my sprints, recover, and hop on the train at the end.”

Wind also played a factor, with the skyscraper buildings of New York creating a wind-tunnel effect, catching riders off guard at times. Luckily, the race saw only a couple minor crashes in the back of the field.

Nearing the end of 60-minutes of racing, L39ion made its signature move to the front, with several teams fighting for Kendall Ryan’s wheel behind them.

“I figured Skylar [Schnieder] had a lot of success last week at Tulsa, so they would probably be working for Kendall here. Kim’s role was to help protect me, I wanted to be right on their train. There was a lot of body checking, and shouldering to get on Kendall’s wheel,” Coles-Lyster said.

“At five to go, I let other riders have her wheel. It’s not worth fighting for, putting yourself in a sketchy position at that point. In the last couple of laps, I pulled out my track skills and fought hard for her wheel. Going into that last corner, I came around Kendall. I wanted the right side of the sprint because of the direction the wind was coming from.”

Going into the final corner, Coles-Lyster jumped on the L39ion train, made her way around Ryan with Schnieder in front of her. She remained patient after getting boxed in, tapping her breaks to make her jump, coming around L39ion to sprint down the straightaway for the win.

“I really had it the last lap,” she added. “Shout-out to track racing because I hit the brakes a little so I could back off and go around Skylar. It was a very good finish for me. That’s really what track racing teaches you, because you get to practice getting boxed in, over and over again, figuring out a way to get out of that.”

She jumped again in the final 100 meters, beating CWA’s Paola Muñoz, and Kendall Ryan for third, extending her lead in the series before the second block of summer crit races begin in July.

“The team gels really well, which gets us in these positions to win and getting good results,” she added. “We’re up against a team with two sets of sisters, both with WorldTour experience. We’re strong, but they’re phenomenal, so we need to really dig deep and lean into each of our individual strengths to beat them.”