Sunday was the second race of the Spring Training series and is the only criterium offered. The course is on the BMW test track in Greer on a pan flat kidney shaped loop. By no means was the circuit a technical course, but the long sweeping turns guaranteed that the speeds were going to be fast all day long.
The women’s race was a show of aggression through the whole 40-minute race. As soon as head ref Glenn “Pappa” Thrift said “go” there were attacks. Team Headstrong was the aggressor on the first lap with a move by Cristina Lindsey. While she was reeled back in, several other attacks followed. These was not just random surges but a group of teams that had come into the race with a plan.
Team Headstong rider Sam Smith revealed the Headstrong squad’s strategy.
“Animating the race was the plan.”
Also in the mix was the Kenda squad covering moves and launching attacks of their own. There was barely a lap that saw the whole women’s peloton riding together as a group – it was constant attacking.
With lap cards out showing two to go Lisa Rodman (Team Headstrong) got on the gas and stepped up the pace stringing out the bunch. She was caught and from there Giselle Weekes took over leading out the peloton for about a 500 meters. Around the final sweeping turn the riders were curb to curb with elbows out. But flashing down the middle was Cinthia Lehner of Team Headstrong. In a tight finish she broke the finish line first followed by teammate Lindsey and remarkably Weekes, who had pulled the group on the backside of the course, rounded out the Headstrong sweep with third.
“I can’t sprint anymore!” was how Lehner described the last meters of the race. “I was definitely fried at 200 meters to go and I hoped that maybe Cristina (Lindsey) had it.”
But as the video shows Lehner still had something in the tank to take the win. Next week she trades her Headstrong kit for the Lees-McRae uniform and travels to Florida for collegiate racing.
The men’s pro 1/ 2 race was the headline event of the day and was scheduled for 60 minutes and two laps. However there was a large crash in the category 4 race that preceded the pro event. While none of the injuries were life threatening they were serious enough to have first responders report to the scene. This delay in racing forced the officials to make the tough decision to shorten the race by 10 minutes to 50-minutes plus two laps.
And like the women’s race the attacks in the opening phase of the race were constant. Two teams were well represented: RealCyclist.com and Globalbike. These two squads were the aggressors and the others were fighting for scraps. Finally after several attacks two familiar faces broke free, yesterday’s winner Frank Travieso of RealCyclist.com and third place Donaldson road race finisher XO Communications/Battley Harley-Davidson rider Charles Hutcheson. Working together their gap continued to grow with every lap. Back in the peloton the orange kits of RealCyclist.com was clogging up the front of the group like hair in a shower drain.
As the laps remaining got into single digits the green kits of Globalbike went to the front, but the damage was done – the duo had almost half a lap advantage.
With less than eight laps remaining it looked like Hutcheson wasn’t pulling as often as Travieso, which was a sound strategy. The Cuban rider proved yesterday he was a very capable sprinter and he had a team working behind to slow the chase – why not save a few bullets for the final sprint?
Around the backside of the course Traviso was down in the hooks of his bars with Hutcheson tucked in behind. When they rounded the final corner and started the sprint Hutcheson didn’t even try to get around the RealCyclist.com rider and seemed happy with second. For Traviso it was a perfect weekend – two races and two wins. The RealCyclist.com squad finished off the group sprint as well with Tommy Nankervis taking third, teammate Cole House in fourth and Kyle Knott (Globalbike) in fifth. The average speed of the peloton was reported to be 28.7 miles per hour.
“My legs were a bit sore but the team did some training around Paris Mountain today and that helped open them up,” said Travieso.
The team’s strategy for the day was simple.
“Never stop attacking.”
In the break Travieso felt strong and wasn’t too concerned about how much work was being done – he wanted to get in a hard ride – but still win.
“I knew I wanted to win. I don’t come to a race and just say, ’I’m here for the training.’ I wanted to train but also try to secure the win no matter what.”
Next weekend the Spring Series moves to Fork Shoals on Saturday, the same course that is also used for the South Carolina state road race championships and then Sunday it returns to the Donaldson Center.