America’s fastest bike racers were crowned criterium champions on day three of the USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite & Para Road National Championships. Shelley Olds (Diadora Pasta Zara), Robert Bush (Chipotle Development Team) and Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) took home the Stars-and-Stripes in the day’s marquee contests on the four-corner course in beautiful downtown Augusta.
Before the day’s final race, rain clouds floated ominously and wind gusts swept through downtown Augusta. The women’s elite and under-23 riders were prepared to make 47 circuits of the 1.2-kilometer course, but the race was shortened to no more than 20 laps due to weather. Olds, the defending criterium national champion, pulled away from the pack in the final stretch to win the women’s elite criterium.
With two laps remaining, Carmen Small built a small lead. Just as the bell rang, indicating one lap remaining, rain began to slowly drizzle on the course. As the riders emerged around the final turn, Olds, still recovering from a painful crash at the Nature Valley Grand Prix last week, edged Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita-Forno d’Asolo) at the finish line.
“When the announcers called 5 laps to go, the race got a little frantic and fast,” Olds explained. “I stayed in the front for the last laps, never more than five riders back; more so to be safe than anything. Coming through the last two turns, I was third wheel. Jen Purcell (Danbury Audi) jumped first with me on her wheel. Theresa Cliff-Ryan then opened her sprint on the left and I had to jump to match her. It was a match sprint to the line between the two of us and I was just able to edge her out at the line.
“It feels really good to repeat the victory from last year. I am so proud to wear the Stars-and-Stripes and it will be an honor to wear them again for another year.”
Rivera, who claimed third place in the elite women’s race, won her 33rd USA Cycling national title as the winner of the women’s U23 contest.
“It feels good. I’ve won at least one per year and it’s good to continue that streak,” Rivera, who is USA Cycling’s most-decorated national championship rider, said. “I’m very proud and honored to win another national championship.”
Overcoming temperatures approaching 90 degrees, the men’s U23 race featured strategic games of cat and mouse as riders gauged each other’s strength. Contestants repeatedly attempted breakaways, but were quickly caught. Bush, who won the omnium at the 2010 USA Cycling Collegiate Road National Championships, pulled away with three laps remaining in a breakaway that stuck.
“In the beginning I got into the breakaway, we rotated for a while, but I honestly was not super confident in that move. I wish I had another teammate up there with me. I soft-pedaled through to save my energy. The other guys were going hard, so they softened a little bit. Before long, I started feeling better and better. At the end, it was touch-and-go there with the field. My teammate, Jacob Rathe (Chipotle Development), attacked and drove a group of five away. I attacked that group with one to go and went as hard as I could to the finish.”
Luke Keough (Mock Orange Bicycles) earned the silver medal ahead of Ty Magner (Team Type 1), who took the bronze.
In the men’s elite race, the field stayed intact for the majority of the race. Late in the race, USA Cycling’s Southwest Regional Development Camp Manager David Wenger (Super Squadra) made a move to the front of the peloton. He succeeded and found himself leading a two-man breakaway with Rahsaan Bahati. With a half-lap remaining, Wenger found another gear to earn a lead which he held through the finish line, narrowly edging a hard-charging Bahati.
“I wasn’t too concerned. It was a calculated risk in that you have to take a chance in some of these races,” Wenger explained. “I have one other teammate in Phil Wikoff. We knew we were going to have to let some riders go up the road early in the race and race their own race. We’re going to race our own race staying at the back until about 15 laps to go I was back about 10 riders until then.”
The youngsters put out everything in the early morning racing with Olivia Lyons (Frazier Cycling) riding aggressively early in the 12-lap junior women’s 10-12 affair, but it was Veda Gerasimek (Young Medalists) emerging from a lead group of eight to earn her first Stars-and-Stripes. Orlando Racing Club’s Ann Weigel was second in the small bunch sprint earning the silver and Emilia Field (Nova Cycle Sports) finished third.
“Two years ago, I came to road nationals and got last in every race. I was so inexperienced,” said the 12-year-old Gerasimek. “Now I came and I just wanted it so bad and just joined a new team, Young Medalists, and I just wanted to be the first to get a gold medal.”
Displaying the depth of the 44-man 10-12 men’s field, nearly 25 riders were still in contention for the title with two laps remaining. Following in the footsteps of his older brother Grant, who won this event last year, Sean McElroy emerged to win the sprint and add a criterium title the road race win he earned on Wednesday. Hans Vandenberg (Velobrew Cycling) earned the silver in a near dead heat with Adam Croft (James River Velo).
The women’s 13-14 race started out fast and ended up just as Wednesday’s road race with Skylar Schneider (Team TIBCO II) taking the gold. This time it came down to a two-woman near photo finish however with Schneider nipping Emma White (Capital Bicycle Racing Club) to earn her fourth national title.
“It means a lot for me to win another national title,” explained Schneider, who has lost only one national championship race entered. “I do a lot of training against women and then you come here and the juniors are just as good, so it’s a feat.”
Ethan Reynolds (BYRDS) rode his teammate’s wheel in the late phases of the junior men 13-14 criterium. With approximately a half-lap remaining in the race, Reynolds pulled around his teammate and used the momentum to cross the finish line ahead of silver-medalist Annan Hildebrand (Southern California Velo).
Sarah Huang (Nova Cycle Sports) made it a clean sweep as she collected her third gold in as many events by winning the junior women’s 15-16 criterium. Huang traversed the 20-kilometer course in 36:32, edging Tara McCormick (Team TIBCO II) and Michelle Blake (Colavita Racing Inc.), who earned the silver and bronze respectively, at the line.
The junior men’s 15-16 race was controlled by the Chipotle Junior Development Team. Two riders from that team, eventual winner Daniel Parks and Logan Owen weaved to the front of the pack, opening a 15-second lead with seven laps remaining. While Parks and Owen maintained their lead, another teammate Michael Dessau controlled the front of the chasing peloton. With three laps remaining, Parks built his lead, leaving Owen behind. Parks secured the win and Dessau edged Owen, who placed third, in a bunch sprint for second place.
The women’s junior 17-18 field remained mostly in tact throughout the 20-kilometer race. With two laps remaining, the group collectively accelerated. The field sped around the 1.2-kilometer course, creating a bunch sprint to the finish. Alexis Ryan (Team TIBCO II) edged Kayla Sterling (Rouse Bicycles) at the finish line. Stephanie Cucaz (Frazier Cycling) earned the bronze medal.
In the junior men’s 17-18 race, Thomas Wrona (Hot Tubes Development Cycling) was out on a break, but dropped back to work with the chasers. Eventually, Wrona worked withJohn Piasta (All-Sport-Team Swift) for the last three laps. Early in the last lap, Wrona kicked in a higher gear entering the first turn to pull away from Piasta and win the sprint to the finish line by two seconds. Piasta won the silver medal and Lucas Wardein (Orlando Road Club) won the bronze.
“I attacked on the first corner of the last lap,” Wrona said. “I just dove into it as fast as I could and sprinted to the finish on the back side and tried to hold through the line. I’m happy that I did.”
The para-cyclists also contested the 25-kilometer course. Alison Jones (Women C2), Matthew Bigos (Men C1), Sam Kavanagh (Men C4) and Roman Pino (Men C5) each won a national championship.
Racing will continue at the USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite and Para Road Cycling National Championships Saturday with the para-cycling, junior men 15-16, junior women 17-18 and the men U23 road races at Fort Gordon.
2011 USA Cycling Juniors, U23, Elite & Para Road National Championships
1. Shelley Olds (Gilroy, Calif./Diadora Pasta Zara) 34:29
2. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Cedar Springs, Mich./Colavita-Forno d’Asolo) 34:29
3. Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif./Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) 34:29
4. Jennifer Purcell (Austin, Texas/Team Danbury Audi) 34:29
5. Samantha Schneider (West Allis, Wisc./WPT TIBCO to the Top) 34:29
Elite Men – 80 kilometers
1. David Wenger (Austin, Texas/Super Squadra) 1:53:40
2. Rahsaan Bahati (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1:53:40
3. Timothy Mitchell (Ashland, Mass./CCB Racing) 1:53:40
4. Jesse Moore (Sacramento, Calif./California Giant Berry Farms-Specialized) 1:53:40
5. Phil Wikoff (Austin, Texas/Super Squadra) 1:53:40
1. Coryn Rivera (Tustin, Calif./Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY 12) 34:29
U23 Men – 60 kilometers
1. Robert Bush (Louisville, Ky./Chipotle Development Team) 1:23:20
2. Luke Keough (Sandwich, Mass./Mock Orange Bikes) 1:23:20
3. Ty Magner (Athens, Ga./Team Type 1) 1:23:20
4. Eric Young (Bloomington, Ind./Bissell Pro Cycling) 1:23:20
5. Gavin Mannion (Dedham, Mass./Trek Livestrong U23) 1:23:20
Junior Women 17-18 – 20 kilometers
1. Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif./Team TIBCO II) 35:42
2. Kayla Sterling (Allen, Texas/Rouse Bicycles) 35:42
3. Stephanie Cucaz (Lawrenceville, Ga./Frazier Cycling) 35:43
4. Addyson Albershardt (Matthews, N.C./NOW and Novartis for MS) 35:43
5. Kaitlyn Lawrence (Emmaus, Pa./Genesee Valley Cycling Club) 35:43
Junior Men 17-18 – 50 kilometers
1. Thomas Wrona (Pinehurst, N.C./Hot Tubes Development Cycling) 1:14:16
2. John Piasta (Santa Rosa, Calif./All-Sport-Team Swift) 1:14:18
3. Lucas Wardein (Naples, Fla./Orlando Road Club) 1:14:20
4. Cory Williams (Los Angeles, Calif./Major Motion Cycling Club) 1:14:22
5. Colin Joyce (Pocatello, Idaho/Hot Tubes Development Cycling) 1:14:22
Junior Women 15-16 – 20 kilometers
1. Sarah Huang (Kenosha, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports) 36:32
2. Tara McCormick (Long Beach, Calif./Team TIBCO II) 36:32
3. Michelle Blake (Orlando, Fla./Colavita Racing Inc.) 36:32
4. Laurel Rathbun (Monument, Colo./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 36:32
5. Corrie Osborne (Mequon, Wisc./Nova Cycle Sports) 36:32
Junior Men 15-16 – 25 kilometers
1. Daniel Parks (Dallas, Texas/Chipotle Junior Development Team) 35:01
2. Michael Dessau (Boulder, Colo./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 35:07
3. Logan Owen (Bremerton, Wash./Chipotle Junior Development Team) 35:08
4. Miguel Bryon (Miami, Fla./Blue Star-Rosetti Development Team) 35:08
5. Alec Aldape (San Antonio, Texas/Bike World Racing) 35:08
Junior Women 13-14 – 20 kilometers
1. Skylar Schneider (West Allis, Wisc./Team TIBCO II) 36:50
2. Emma White (Delanson, N.Y./Capital Bicycle Racing) 36:50
3. Abigail Aldridge (Duluth, Ga./Frazier Cycling Juniors) 36:50
4. Marta Morris (Grand Junction, Colo./) 36:51
5. Hannah McDade (Tigard, Ore./Beaverton Bicycle Club) 36:52
Junior Men 13-14 – 20 kilometers
1. Ethan Reynolds (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS) 31:42
2. Annan Hildebrand (Fontana, Calif./Southern California Velo) 31:42
3. Adrien Costa (Los Altos, Calif./San Jose Bicycle Club) 31:43
4. Jonathan Brown (Covington, Tenn./TriStar Cycling Team) 31:43
5. Dominic Suozzi (Fountain Hills, Ariz./Strada Racing Club) 31:44
Junior Women 10-12 – 15 kilometers
1. Veda Gerasimek (Transfer, Pa./Young Medalists-Team Rothrock) 29:49
2. Ann Weigel (Clermont, Fla./Orlando Road Club) 29:49
3. Emilia Field (Lake Forest, Ill./Nova Cycle Sports Foundation) 29:49
4. Moriah Swan (Alpine, Calif./Strive Racing) 29:49
5. Mackenzie Collins (Clermont, Fla./Orlando Road Club) 29:51
Junior 10-12 Men – 15 kilometers
1. Sean McElroy (Palmdale, Calif.) 26:43
2. Hans Vandenberg (Saint Augustine, Fla./VeloBrew Cycling Club) 26:43
3. Adam Croft (Toano, Va./James River Velo Sport) 26:43
4. Matteo Jorgenson (Boise, Idaho/BYRDS) 26:44
5. Sandor Delgado (Hialeah, Fla./Team Cocos) 26:44
Para-cycling 25 kilometers
Women – C2 Wm
1. Allison Jones (Colorado Springs, Colo.) 40:13
Men – C1
1. Matthew Bigos (Cardiff by the Sea, Calif.) 39:58
Men – C4
1. Sam Kavanagh (Bozeman, Mont.) 38:12
Men – C5
1. Roman Pino (Orlando, Fla.) 38:12