U.S. Cycling This Week: Bissell in the cooker in Grand Rapids

The Grand Cycling Classic brings the men and women to the east side of Lake Michigan Saturday for classic, Midwest downtown criteriums. The men are the headliners early in the day with the professional national championships in the morning.

The Grand Cycling Classic brings the men and women to the east side of Lake Michigan Saturday for classic, Midwest downtown criteriums. The men are the headliners early in the day with the professional national championships in the morning.

The U.S. Professional Criterium National Championships are on tap for Saturday morning in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and no team is feeling more pressure to perform than the hometown Bissell team. Team director Omer Kem told VeloNews that the weekend would determine how the program goes forward in 2012.

“We’ll have key meetings at U.S. Pro Crit. The race will set the tone for 2012,” Kem told VeloNews. “Our goals coming into the year were to be the number one team on the National Racing Calendar and win the U.S. Pro Crit.”

Bissell leads UnitedHealthcare in the NRC team classification by 176 points with seven race days remaining.

With his third overall, Bissell put top American Daniel Holloway into the national criterium jersey last year in Glencoe, Illinois. Holloway moved to Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth and will defend his title Saturday in the first-ever American-only criterium championship. Unlike previous editions, the outright winner on Saturday is guaranteed to walk away with the stars-and-stripes.

The Bissell squad is more familiar with the Grand Rapids course, which includes a tricky section of bricks, than any other team and their Kiwi rider Patrick Bevin won his first NRC event there in 2010. Bevin won’t be on hand for the race, but the team will field its full roster of nine Americans, save for Paul Mach and Chase Pinkham. Bissell will bring criterium captains Frank Pipp and Andy Jacques-Maynes, as well as sprinter Kyle Wamsley and Tour de Toona stage winner Eric Young.

When he stopped by the VeloNews office this week, Pipp was calmly confident looking ahead to the weekend. He joked that if the team could pull a top result in Grand Rapids that he could cruise through next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Kem said that moving forward the split between the NRC and the new National Criterium Calendar would impact how he builds his team. While he said he is not feeling a pinch from his sponsors with the economic downturn, Kem said he expected his budget to remain level for 2012.

“We want to keep our core intact and expand,” said Kem. “That’s not necessarily in the roster, but the schedule. We won’t become an international team, but we’ll have a different calendar. With the National Criterium Calendar, we may change our focus to stage races more, with fewer criteriums.”

Saturday’s national championships will go a long way to determining where that focus lies.

USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship – Grand Rapids, Michigan
August 20 11:45 a.m. (men)
80km (men)

Herman Miller Grand Cycling Classic – Grand Rapids, Michigan
August 20 2:20 p.m. (women)
45 min.
*National Racing Calendar

USA Pro Cycling Challenge – Colorado
August 22-28
Prologue Colorado Springs
Stage 1 Salida – Mount Crested Butte
Stage 2 Gunnison – Aspen
Stage 3 Vail Time Trial
Stage 4 Avon – Steamboat Springs
Stage 5 Steamboat Springs – Breckenridge
Stage 6 Golden – Denver

USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championship

2011 Preliminary Startlist

Andrew Baker, Easley, South Carolina
Andrew Dahlheim, Richardson, Texas
Andy Jacques-Maynes, Watsonville, California
Benjamin Jacques-Maynes, Watsonville, California
Shane Kline, Bally, Pennsylvania
Frank Pipp, Boulder, Colorado
Kyle Wamsley, Alburtis, Pennsylvania
David Williams, Indianapolis, Indiana
Eric Young, Bloomington, Indiana

Fly V Australia
Zachary Davies, Boulder, Colorado

Indianapolis Cycling Club/NUVO Cultural Trail
Joseph Kukolla, Indianapolis, Indiana

Jamis-Sutter Home
Weston Luzadder, Carmel, Indiana
Eric Schildge, Hanover, New Hampshire
John (Jackie) Simes, New Tripoli, Pennsylvania

Jelly Belly-Kenda
Kenneth Hanson, Santa Barbara, California
Charles Huff, Springfield, Missouri
Sean Mazich, Phoenix, Arizona
Emerson Oronte, Cohasset, Massachusetts
Jeremy Powers, Easthampton, Massachusetts
Bernard Van Ulden, San Mateo, California

Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth
Jesse Anthony, Beverly, Massachusetts
Andrew Bajadali, Bolder, Colorado
Colton Barrett, N. Saint Paul, Minnesota
Daniel Bowman, Durango, Colorado
Michael Creed, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Alexander Candelario, Reno, Nevada
Jason Donald, Brighton, Colorado
Chad Haga, Fort Collins, Colorado
Daniel Holloway, Morgan Hill, California
Julian Kyer, Santa Rosa, California
Jonathan Mumford, Sandy, Utah
Michael Sherer, Glencoe, Illinois
Thomas Soladay, Bethesda, Maryland

Kenda-5-hour Energy
Chad Hartley, Fox Point, Wisconsin
Isaac Howe, Concord, New Hampshire
Shawn Milne, Beverly, Massachusetts
Christopher Monteleone, Winston Salem, North Carolina
Jake Rytlewski, Brownsburg, Indiana
James Stemper, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Robert Sweeting, Danbury, Connecticut
Robert White, Brown Deer, Wisconsin
Yosvany Falcon, Miami, Florida
Frank Travieso, Winterville, Georgia

Team Type 1-Sanofi
Alex Bowden, Sugar Grove, Illinois
Charles (Joe) Eldridge, Atlanta, Georgia
Ty Magner, Athens, Georgia
Joey Rosskopf, Decateur, Georgia

Adrian Hegyvary, Asheville, North Carolina
Jacob Keough, Sandwich, Massachusetts
Bradley White, Holland, Michigan

Wonderful Pistachios Cycling
Sterling Magnell, Santa Rosa, California
Collin Samaan, Fair Oaks, California