The first Friday Night Fights criterium was held in Downtown Gaffney, South Carolina. While the turn-out wasn’t huge, this will change as the word spreads about this great new event. The racing was still exciting to watch in this historic setting.
The wide, rectangular four corner loop offered safe racing conditions, but a slight gradient on the finishing straight with a corresponding slight decline on the back side of the course was enough to sap the strength out of the legs. Also with a small field no rider could sit-in and recover – everyone was forced to put their nose into the wind during the race.
The marquee event of the night was the pro, 1,2,3 race. About halfway through the 45 minute plus two-laps race the group split with six racers chasing five up the road. After a few laps chasing it became apparent that the split was permanent. With the race almost finished the breakaway lapped the remaining racers.
With just four laps remaining the bell was rung and Corey Fisher of the AeroCat Cycling Team took the prime, however that set up the counter attack by Chris Harkey of Subaru-Gary Fisher.
“I figured we’d sprint after the prime sprint and only he (Fisher) could go with me,” said Harley.
Hincapie U-23 rider Lowe mounted a solo chase but never quite bridged up to the two escapees.
Once they were away Harkey and Fisher worked together to keep the distance between themselves and the charging 21-year old Lowe. On the last lap and through the final turn Harkey, a former masters as well as state time trial champion, out kicked Fisher for the win.
Race promoter Bruce Humphries (Two Up Sports) explains why he decided to promote a bike race in the historic area of Gaffney.
“I’ve moved away from racing in the elite level but I wanted to showcase the town I live in (Gaffney) and incorporate the town. What better way than a bike race?”
While the turn-out of racers wasn’t as great as hoped, Humphries is determined to grow the Friday Night Fights criterium into a fixture on the cycling calendar.
“My ideal future would be to have an annual series during the summer with a weekend stage race and possibly incorporating the USA Speed Week series. I would love for them to come here and bring that atmosphere.”
The next Friday Night Fights criterium is August 27th with the racing action once again starting at 6:00PM in Gaffney. Bring the family and enjoy a great night of racing in a downtown setting.
1. Jesse Miller – Clemson University
2. Randy Hutchinson – Greenville Spinners
3. Jeffrey Lehner – Greenville Spinners
1. Darin Marhanka – Piedmont Orthopedic Associates
2. Eric Christophersen – Piedmont Orthopedic Associates
3. Stephen Sperry Team Globalbike
1. Chris Harkley – Subaru Gary Fisher
2. CoreyFisher – AeroCat Cycling Team
3. Justin Lowe – Hincapie Development