Hot, humid weather greeted racers competing at the South Carolina road race championships. The 15 mile loop was rolling, but the deciding factors in the race was the distance (90 miles) and the humidity that sucked every bit of moisture from the body leaving salty residue on everyone’s kits.
With the US Professional road race on Monday, pros were looking to loosen their legs up with some efforts. In this case it was the Kelly Benefits squad who decided they were going to line up and race for a couple of laps just for that purpose. And the didn’t have to wait long to get the blood pumping.
Just 200 meters into the Pro 1/ 2 men’s race, Thad Dulin of Globalbike turned to his teammate and said, “I should just go now.” Joining him was Kelly Benefit rider Jason Donald and Chemstar’s Brian Hill.
With 90 miles for racing still in front of them the favorites let the trio go. Everyone was thinking they couldn’t stay out for that long. At one point the three had well over six minutes and it looked like that was going to be the move of the day. All three riders are strong and GlobalBike could sit back in the peloton and make their rivals work – the Hincapie/Green Creations team of Bruce Humphries. Humphries was riding with number 1 in addition to the target on his back.
However, the wheels on the escapees started to fall off. Donald pulled out of the break as his goal of riding two hours had been met. As soon as the peloton came across the start/finish line, the rest of the Kelly Benefit riders pulled the plug and loaded up the team van. A couple of laps later Hill, who had crashed a few weeks ago, was forced to drop out due to hip pain. Suddenly Dulin was alone and facing two, 15 mile laps.
On the penultimate lap the GlobalBike rider still had a significant advantage on the dwindling chase group of six. However, on the last lap Dulin lost a chunk of time, but was still holding a four minute advantage. The GlobalBike team felt confident that Dulin could hold off the six chasers.
“Dulin has been caught and passed!” race organizer Glenn Thrift announced to the crowd. The heat and distance had been too much for Dulin and he cracked. The state champion was now going to come out of that group of six.
The last kilometer had a slight tailwind, coupled with a gradual downhill and then a flat section of road to the finish line. For all of the race the riders had been restricted to staying on the right of the yellow line. However, for the final 200 meters of the race, they were allowed both lanes. And attacking on the left was Hincapie Development rider Justin Lowe.
Last year at the state championships Lowe had crossed the line first, but was relegated to the back of the pack due to a yellow line violation. This year he knew exactly where he could sprint.
At 400 meters Lowe jumped hard and then with 200 meters remaining swung to the left to take advantage of the open road. But coming past him just before the line was the collegiate criterium and overall omnium champion from Mars Hill, GlobalBike’s Kyle Knott. However, Knott is a North Carolina resident and Lowe, who was second, was the first South Carolina rider, awarding him the state champion’s jersey.
“This was redemption for last year,” said Lowe. While the Hincapie Development squad only had three riders in the championships, Lowe said that it was truly a team effort that got him across the line first.
The women’s race also featured several early attacks, but nothing stuck. It wasn’t until the third lap and final lap that the serious move was made.
Erin Burton and Jaime Dinkins took off and started to work together. Coming into the finish Burton had the strongest kick taking the state championship’s jersey. The Charleston resident credits her training partner’s fiance Jim Lindon and masters 45-49 South Carolina state champion Paul Kammerer.
Full results are available at pre-reg.com.