Under pouring rain the men and women battled for the honor of winning the Athens Twilight criterium. In both races the brutal weather conditions along with the savage pace of the racers decimated the fields. In the women’s field approximately 30 women out of a little over 60 finished. In the men’s field only 50 of the over 100 riders completed the race.
As expected the adverse weather conditions played a huge factor in the race. At times the field was strung out with the weak being shelled out the back lap after lap. With two laps remaining race favorite Laura Van Gilder came to grief and was out of the running. However out of the shadows Teresa Cliff-Ryan of Colavita sprinted to a well deserved victory with Sam Schneider coming in behind her for second. In third place was Erica Allar of the Vera Bradley squad.
Like the women’s race, the weather played a huge part in the outcome of the men’s Twilight as well. Crashes were expected and the crowds were thickest on turn four in anticipation of carnage. And it didn’t disappoint. Every few laps riders came limping through the start-finish line holding onto a bruised shoulder or ripped shorts. The Mavic Neutral Support Pit was a revolving door of wheel changes and the occasional bike swap. By the halfway point the field had been gutted to a little over 50 racers and a six-man break of Ken Hansen [Team Type I], Hilton Clarke [Bahati Foundation], Alessandro Bazzana [Fly V], Karl Menzies [UnitedHealthcare], Ty Magner [Locos Grill & Pub] and Luca Damiani [Kenda Pro Cycling] finally established themselves. The major teams were represented with two exceptions – Jamis and Team Khakis.
The six riders rolled through in an organized fashion while the chase became the responsibility of Team Khakis. With each lap the break gained more and more time and at one point it looked like they were going to lap the filed. However some cat and mouse within the escape group slowed down their effort, saving the main peloton the embarrassment of being lapped.
In the closing laps the six riders started to play games. Their time gap between the peloton and break was secure so the winner was going to be one of those escapees. And in the final lap Menzies pounced first and blasted through the rain to take the win.
“I’ve been riding well, but I’ve missed some results lately which was a bit disappointing. If I’m a bit pissed off and angry I go a bit better. I’m getting soft in my old age. I have to toughen up,” Menzies said with tongue planted firmly in check.
“I’m happy to win here. To get this win was huge for me”