U.S. Scene This Week: Crit-crazy in the USA

The USA goes crit-crazy

Hurry up and corner is what’s on tap for the U.S. professionals this weekend as a run of criteriums from Pennsylvania to Northern California dominates the calendar.

Many of the stage racers will rest this week and next ahead of the Cascade Classic. Meanwhile, SpeedWeek kicks off Friday in Chicago and the National Racing Calendar picks up Saturday on the bricks in Michigan with the Grand Cycling Classic.

The USA Crits series rolls on as West Chester, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C., host the Iron Hill Twilight and Capital criteriums Saturday and Sunday. Also on Saturday is the Twilight Criterium in San Rafael, California.

International Cycling Classic & SuperWeek ProTour – Wisconsin & Illinois

July 9-25

Since 1969, the International Cycling Classic has brought the best in U.S. racing to Wisconsin. Once a one-day event, it has incorporated stages from the Milk Race and other events and has grown into more than two weeks of racing spread between Wisconsin and Illinois.

Every year, the nation’s top sprinters and one-day riders funnel in and out of SpeedWeek. Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis) has found success there, as has Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia). Bernie Sulzberger (V Australia) and Nicky Wangsgard won the 2009 overall competition.

Friday July 9
Beverly Hills Cycling Classic – Chicago, Illinois

Saturday July 10
Geneva-Mill Race Cyclery Classic – Geneva, Ill.

Sunday July 11
Homewood International Cycling Classic – Homewood, Ill.

Monday July 12
Richton Park Criterium – Richton Park, Ill.

Tuesday July 13
Willow Springs Road Race – Willow Springs, Ill.

Wednesday July 14
Lake Geneva Criterium – Lake Geneva, Wisc.

Thursday July 15
South Shore Cyclery Classic – Cudahy, Wisc.

Friday July 16
Brookfield Criterium – Brookfield, Wisc.

Saturday July 17
Schlitz Park Challenge – Milwaukee, Wisc.

Sunday July 18
NorthShore University HealthSystem Grand Prix of Cycling – Evanston, Ill.

Monday July 19
Whitnall Park Road Race – Hales Corners, Wisc.

Tuesday July 20
Bucyrus International Cycling Classic – South Milwaukee, Wisc.

Wednesday July 21
Lakefront Road Race – Milwaukee, Wisc.

Thursday July 22 Criterium – Racine, Wisc.

Friday July 23
Folks & Spokes – Kenosha, Wisc.

Saturday July 24
Great Downer Avenue International Bike Race – Milwaukee, Wisc.

Saturday July 24
Humboldt Park-Bay View Classic – Bay View, Wisc.

Sunday July 25
Whitefish Bay Classsic – Whitefish Bay, Wisc.

Grand Cycling Classic – Grand Rapids, Michigan

July 10 1:50 p.m. (women) / 4:15 p.m. (men)
45 min (women) / 90 min (men)
*National Racing Calendar

The NRC rolls into Grand Rapids for the fourth annual Grand Cycling Classic Saturday. The Grand course is one of the more interesting that the NRC sees this year, with six corners and three brick sections spread over 1.1km.

This is Bissell’s home race and Tom Zirbel won the event for them in 2009. They’ll field a solid roster this weekend to defend the title and hunt for the $15,000 purse against the big guns of U.S. crit racing. With Daniel Holloway, Andy Jacques-Maynes, Cody O’Reilly and Kyle Wamsley highlighting the early roster, they should have a good shot at the win from a break or bunch kick. UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis will be in town with their dominant, new-look crit squad that features Hilton Clarke and Karl Menzies. Luis Amaran and Alejandro Borrajo look to be a two-up Jamis-Sutter Home attack, while Jonathan Cantwell, Ben Kersten and Bernie Sulzberger should lead the Fly V Australia squad. Kenda-Geargrinder will field a full squad that includes Tour of America’s Dairyland stage winner Chad Hartley.

On the women’s side, Tibco-To The Top appears to be the strongest squad on the early startlist. They and Colavita-Baci will look for redemption after a disappointing nationals two weeks ago. Brooke Miller, Joanne Kiesanowski, Meredith Miller and Sam Schneider make up the Tibco roster. Also in the running for the $8,000 purse will be hired gun Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) and new NRC leader Cath Cheathley (Colavita)

Iron Hill Twilight Criterium – West Chester, Pennsylvania

July 10 6:45 p.m. (women) / 7:45 p.m. (men)
40km (women) / 60km (men)
*USA Crits

Iron Hill kicks off a weekend of Mid-Atlantic USA Crits racing. The 1.3km, four-corner course is a classic downtown track. The event runs in downtown West Chester, with the start/finish in front of the Iron Hill brewery.

Kelly Benefit Strategies is the strongest squad on paper, though they lack a pure sprinter. Jesse Anthony, Guy East, Reid Mumford and Scott Zwizanski will no doubt try to liven things up early in the race and drive the pace, preferably off the front of the race. Series leader Isaac Howe (Mountain Khakis-Jittery Joes’) will defend his series overall lead in West Chester, while Bobby Lea (Bahati Foundation) should also be on the line to contest the $10,000 purse.

Erica Allar (Vera Bradley Foundation) is the lone top-shelf rider on the early women’s startlist. Allar was a constant fixture on the SpeedWeek podium and will look to cash those also-rans in for a win and top series points. The women will ride for $5,000 in prize money.

San Rafael Twilight Criterium – San Rafael, California

July 10 6:40 p.m. (women) / 8:00 p.m. (men)
60 min (women) / 75 min (men)

The San Rafael Twilight Criterium is one of the highlights of the Northern California racing schedule. The four-corner, one-kilometer course in downtown San Rafael lies on a slant. Riders climb a four-percent grade out of turn one, roll along a false flat on the backside or the course, fly down a one-block descent into turn four and onto the final, false flat run-up to the finish.

2009 champ Ken Hanson (Team Type 1) is back with teammates Chris Jones and Shawn Milne. Also in San Rafael for the men’s event are 2008 winner Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly-Kenda), elite national crit champ Steve Reaney and a contingent from Cal Giant-Specialized, and Rahsaan Bahati (Bahati Foundation). Hanson beat Bahati by a tire width last year and the latter just committed to the race Wednesday morning. They’ll battle for the $3,500 purse.

Coryn Rivera (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) is the defending women’s champ, but she’ll be at junior track nationals this weekend. In Rivera’s place will be her teammate and new Irish road and TT champion Olivia Dillon, Katharine Carroll and Hanan Alves-Hyde. Tyler Stewart (Luna) has had a good run in road events since turning up at the Tour de Nez in June and is also on the start list. The women’s purse for the event is $2,500.

Capital Criterium – Washington, D.C.

July 11 9:20 a.m. (women) / 1:15 p.m. (men)
50 min (women) / 105 min (men)
*USACrits men only

The USA Crits road show (for men) moves down to the nation’s capital on Sunday for the Capital Criterium. The 1.3km, seven-corner course encircles the Warner Theatre before rolling down Pennsylvania Avenue past the J. Edgar Hoover Building. A 180-degree turn around the boulevard on Pennsylvania delivers riders onto the 4.5-block-long finishing straight.

Howe and Mark Hekman will lead the Mountain Khakis-Jittery Joe’s squad into D.C. as they fight for series points. Also on-hand will be the KBS roster from Iron Hill, Anibal Borrajo and Frank Travieso of Jamis-Sutter Home, and Phil Gaimon and Kenda-Geargrinder. They’ll punch it up for the $15,000 purse and points as the nine-event series crests over the halfway point.