The Winthrop Lake Criterium was the first race in the weekend of events scheduled in what will soon become a destination for cyclists – Rock Hill, South Carolina. The Riverwalk development recently broke ground down the road from the criterium. This outdoors enthusiasts park will feature a velodrome, BMX track, road loop, mountain bike trails and cyclocross course. Riverwalk is planning to have residential, commercial and retail to be developed along the Catawba River.
The women’s racing was aggressive with several attacks by Hincapie/ Green Creation team as well as Pain Pathways squad. The hill on the back side of the course was the scene for most of the attacks. However nothing would stick until the last two laps.
Attacking out of the bunch on the climb Hannah Coughlin (Carolina Flyers) went solo. There had been several back to back primes and the pack was feeling the strain.
“The racing was aggressive and I didn’t think I could go alone,” said Coughlin. “After they called several primes I thought it was good timing (to attack).”
However with the finish line in sight Coughlin was caught and out of the bunch sprint was Christy Blakely (Cycle-Smart). For someone who doesn’t consider herself to be a sprinter she was the first across the line taking the victory.
“I wasn’t feeling super fresh today so I knew I had to be conservative,” said Blakely.
Her strategy on the last lap was straight forward.
“I glued myself to the wheel of the girl who had been winning the primes as she had the strongest jump.”
“I was obsessed about the finish and studied it every lap. I got myself into position for the primes but it was never the right time. I watched everyone and just waited for the finish. Finally this season I’ve matured to a patient racer.”
In the men’s race the wind had become a little stronger. The hill on the backside of the course was a tailwind, taking the sting, as well as the breakaway possibilities, away. The headwind was on the finishing stretch, a slight 1% gradient that many riders called the toughest section of the .9 mile loop.
As with the women’s race the action on the course was aggressive. There were numerous probing attacks, but nothing got the gap to stay away. That all changed at about the halfway point.
With about 25 laps remaining Jacob Tremblay (Team Natures Path) and Isaac Enderline (Hincapie Development Team) broke away. Seeing that there was no green kits of Globalbike represented Thad Dulin launched out of the pack and bridged up to the duo.
The three riders quickly started working together and with each lap the time split between the chased and the chasers was growing – ultimately hovering around 30 seconds.
With the lap board into single digits the trio had almost half a lap advantage on the heavily controlled peloton.
As the break away approached the finish line with just two laps to go, Dulin attacked. This head wind section of the course was the most challenging and the ideal launching pad for a solo move.
With his hands in the hooks of the bars and back flat, Dulin slowly but surely with each pedal stroke was distancing himself from Tremblay and Enderline. With one lap remaining it looked, baring a mechanical, that this would be Dulin’s first win of the season.
Coming into the finish the Globalbike rider had enough of a gap to give a tired looking one-hand victory salute as he crossed the finish line.
“Through out the year we’ve had a challenge, we’ve had the numbers but we were too excited in the beginning and lose touch in the middle of the race, then the break gets away and we end up chasing, not racing,” said Dulin after the race. “Today we made an effort to pace ourselves better and follow moves.”
Those last two laps Dulin explained the pain cave he had crawled into.
“Nothing was held back and I was pedaling squares. I had nothing left when I crossed the finish line, that’s for sure.”