[media-credit id=2 align="alignleft" width="300"][/media-credit]The ninth annual Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium in downtown Charlotte brought out the heavy hitters. The women were racing for 25 miles and for a $25,000 total purse while the men were racing for 50 miles and $75,000. In addition the prime bell was going to clang all night long with cash.
On the start line was defending champion Theresa Clif-Ryan but just few feet away in a Stars and Stripes jersey was national road race champion Robin Farina.
With the prime bell ringing on most laps, the racing was fast, shelling riders out the back in just the opening laps.
No single break stood the test of time for the women. Instead it was a lot of surging ahead for primes. By the midway point Allison Powers (NOW and Novartis for MS) had earned $1500 in prime money alone.
In the end it was Nicole Wansgard (Primal/ Map My Ride) who came around the final corner in about 25th position to take the sprint win.
What is remarkable is that Wansgard was racing without teammates. Her sole intention was to go for the win rather than prime hunt.
Speaking to Cyclingnews, Wangard described her race strategy.
1 Nichole Wangsgard (Primal/MapMyRide)
2 Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Exergy TWENTY12)
3 Erica Allar (RideClean/PatentIt.com)
4 Jade Wilcoxson (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
5 Kendall Ryan (Team TIBCO)
6 Christina Gokey-Smith (NOW and Novartis for MS)
7 Lenore Pipes (RideClean/PatentIt.com)
8 Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom/Rose Bandit Rac)
9 Amy McGuire (FCS/Rouse by Mr Restore)
10 Maura Kinsella (Vanderkitten-Focus)
By the time the men took to the downtown Charlotte roads the sun had set and flood lights, combined with street lamps, illuminated the action.
By the first lap Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home) rode away from the peloton. After a few solo laps he was joined by Jared Barrilleaux (Cal Giant/Specialized) and Heath Blackgrove (Elbowz racing).
The trio worked together taking prime after prime – obviously they had decided to split the prime money in order to maximize their cash payout.
Finally, as the lap card got into the single digits they were brought back by the UnitedHealthcare team. Sitting in fourth position in the blue train was New Zealander Hilton Clarke.
With one lap remaining Karl Menzies gave it one last pull at the front which completely strung out the peloton. Coming around the final corner three riders were in contention for the win. Clarke crossed the line first, followed by his teammate Jake Keough and then Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis – Sutter Home).
However, by the time the riders had rolled to a stop the race referees had relegated Keough to third for irregular riding in the last two-hundred meters and promoted Borrajo to second place.
1 Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare)
2 Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home)
3 Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare)
4 Issac Howe (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)
5 Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy)
6 Robin Carpenter (Chipotle First Solar Development)
7 Oscar Clark (Team United Healthcare GA/706)
8 Tommy Nankervis (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)
9 Daniel Holt (Team Type 1 Development)
10 Frank Travieso (Team Coco’s)