The quaint town of Anderson, South Carolina hosted the Tour de la France criterium. While this is the town’s second year hosting a bike event (earlier in the day there was a fun ride with proceeds going to the cancer association of Anderson), it was the first year that a criterium was held in conjunction with the many other events that were occurring in Anderson during the Labor Day weekend.
The course was rectangular shaped and about a mile in length. The home stretch was straight down the narrow Main Street bordered on both sides by restaurants and boutique shops. The back side of the course was significantly wider and featured a slight downhill which then kicked into a short ascent to turn number three. While neither particularly steep or long, at race pace and having to be tackled multiple times, it was sure to be a breaking point for unprepared racers.
The women’s race, while sparsely attended still contained some strong local firepower. One rider that was obviously on form was Athens racer Jaime Dinkins (Motor Mile Racing). Usually an endurance mountain bike rider, she decided to come to Anderson and try her hand at racing in a much shorter format.
The first lap Dinkins attacked out of the first corner, but was brought back by the women. If at first you succeed, try again – and that’s exactly what she did. Around turn one on lap two, Dinkins attacked again and no one could respond. At that point Dinkins slipped into time trial mode and kept a steady pace. Near the end of the race she almost lapped the peloton that was about 200 meters in front of her.
With Dinkins taking the win, the peloton readied itself for the group sprint with Elizabeth Morse Hill (Z Motion) taking second and Kate Ross rounding out the top three.
“I’m a mountain biker, so I can’t handle sitting around,” said the victorious Dinkins. “It’s actually pretty stupid to attack on the second lap, but sometimes it works.”
When asked why she just didn’t lap the peloton Dinkins replied, “I didn’t want to get involved in a sprint. Once I saw them in front of me I backed off.”
Look for Dinkins to cross over and participate in more road races.
With a $10,000 purse and the Atlanta 100K race on Monday, the men’s race attracted a strong field. It included such riders as United HealthCare riders Karl Menzies and Jonny Clarke, Fly V’s Ben Kersten and David Kemp. The Team Type 1 pro squad was represented by Davide Frattini and Daniel Holt. Their development squad was also toeing the line in Anderson. The Jamis Sutter squad had lone rider Frank Travieso flying the team flag. Team Mountain Khakis fielded seven professional riders in the field including team manager/rider Adam Myerson and team sprinter Isaac Howe. The local teams, also lured by the large purse, were also in attendance. The always strong Subaru-Gary Fisher Elite team lined up as did the green kitted riders of Global Bike. Another local squad taking the start line and not afraid to go to the front was the Aerocat Cycling Team and the Team Ion squad. It was sure to be a fast race.
The action started immediately with a small crash on the backside of the course. A few riders made their way back to neutral support to get pushed back into the action. Luckily none looked the worse for wear.
With numerous cash primes being offered there were numerous attacks coming from the expected teams – Menzies of United Healthcare as well as Aerocat rider Andy Crater. Phillip Gaimon of the Kenda Pro team started what seemed to be the first serious break of the day. He was joined by three other riders. However even with a good group of riders represented the collaboration wasn’t there and they were brought back.
The multiple primes kept the peloton sharp, not allowing any breaks to escape. However that didn’t stop Gaimon from trying again. He attacked solo from the field and hoovered in the 20 second range scooping up primes along the way. As the laps remaining counted down to the teens it became apparent that the Kenda rider wasn’t going to hold off the peloton as with each lap he lost valuable seconds. With seven laps to go the lone Kenda rider was caught, but for his efforts he had snagged two primes for a total of $200.
That solo effort must have gotten Joey Rosskopf thinking. With three laps to go he attacked. The Mountain Khakis rider timed his move to perfection as the major players in the race all hesitated for a few seconds – perhaps waiting for someone else to start the chase. However Rosskopf was waiting for no one and had his head down. With one lap to go the peloton had organized, but it was too late. Coming around the final corner and onto Main Street, Rosskopf still had the peloton in his rear view mirror.
With time to coast the line with hands aloft, Rosskopf enjoyed the cheering from the crowd and the $1,700 that came with the win. Nipping on his heels was Australian Menzies and Fly V rider Kersten.
The secret to the Mountain Khakis rider’s success was a few weeks off from training to prepare for US Pro in Greenville.
When asked by race announcer Chad Andrews why he attacked solo he said, “We were setting up for a sprint, Isaac is a pretty safe bet.”
However the lull in the field on those closing laps was all the impetus that Rosskopf needed.
“I just rolled off the front and went with it for a lap. I had a descent gap so I thought I’d give it a shot.”
This is the city of Anderson’s second bicycle event and first criterium. Speaking to Rusty Burns, Anderson county administrator, it was obvious that he was happy with the day’s cycling activities. The genesis of the event, the fun ride and downtown criterium, were a method to raise funds for the Anderson Cancer Association.
“Last year we did a 14-mile fun ride (starting in the town of La France – hence the name of the event, Tour de la France) and a tricycle race with local celebrities to raise money for the Anderson Cancer Association.”
In 2010 Anderson decide to take another step with the event and add a race.
“The goal is to keep the criterium, because we absolutely love it, and have a ride that includes going through every town in Anderson county.”
The downtown criterium and fun ride was just one of the activities that the city of Anderson were promoting during the Labor Day weekend.
“We have an event that has been around for 15 years – The Midnight Run. Last night we had 2,000 people run and today we’re filling the spot with bicycles. Sunday we have “Celebrate Anderson” which is an outdoor concert in our amphitheater and we’ll have 18,000 people”
The city of Anderson understands why it is important to promote races and activities like this.
“It absolutely brings value to your town and appeals to a wide selection of people. It sets a good example for wellness, being healthy and for getting outside to run or ride your bike. We have an active cycling community that has supported us tremendously.”
1.Jaime Dinkins (Motor Mile Racing)
2.Elizabeth Morse Hill (Z Motion)
1.Joey Rosskopf (Team Mountain Khakis)
2.Karl Menzies (United Healthcare p/b Maxxis)
3.Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia)