The South Carolina state criterium championships were held once again at the Hampton Park in Charleston. In contrast to yesterday’s technical I’On course, the championships would be decided on a one-mile flat oval. Only the final turn was a 90 degree turn, the rest were sweeping that could have been taken without using the brakes. On such a non-technical course a break away was not a guaranteed occurrence. A peloton could ride at full speed and not have to chop its speed going through the turns in pursuit of escapees.
Men’s Pro 1/ 2 Race
The men’s pro 1/ 2 field seemed like it was going to follow that plot. While there were several breaks, none got more than a handful of seconds before they were brought back. The Hincapie Development squad animated the field with Justin Lowe, who finished in second place in yesterday’s I’On race, going off the front. It was a suicidal move but he explained later that he was hoping a rider from the Hincapie/ Green Creation team would bridge and they could stay off. However, it was not to be and Lowe was caught. With 16 laps remaining the peloton was together and looked like it might stay that way.
On the back side of the course Bruce Humphries made a move and going with him was Parker Kyzer of Hincapie Development squad and an unknown rider in a Challenge Diabetes kit. This looked like another suicidal move until you took a look at the horsepower in the break. Humphries’ palmares is deep with victories and he wears the kit of the strong Hincapie/ Green Creations squad. Kyzer, a new category 2 racer, had raced with panche at I’On the day before – this junior rider has some strong legs. The unknown element was the rider in the Diabetes Challenge kit. Could he sprint or did he have the ability to roll away for the victory?
The trio gained a 20 second gap and the team that had missed the move was Globalbike. They threw their collective weight to the front and double pace lined it, ramping up the speed. With five laps to go the escapees only had eight seconds on the bunch. It looked like game over.
Coming around the final corner with four laps remaining was Humpries riding solo. With his back flat and hands on the hoods Humpries looked smooth. There were no tell tale signs of fatigue as he hit the afterburners and stretched his gap back out to 20 seconds. Behind him the Globalbike squad was no longer at the front, burned off after their pursuit of the original trio.
As Humpries came through the finish line area on the bell lap the gap started to drop. In a move of desperation Globalbike had a rider pushing the pace. In his wake were riders who had resigned themselves for lesser placings.
Coming round the final turn Humpries had maintained his gap on the peloton with enough in hand to sit up 50 meters before the line to coast and give a well deserved two-handed salute. However, that last lap had torn into his lead and just five seconds behind him was the peloton sprinting for the remaining spots on the podium. The fastest out of the group was Globalbike’s Marc Williams for second and yesterday’s I’On winner and Globalbike teammate Trey Miller.
Women’s Open Race
When the women toed the line, they were looking at 45 minutes on the one-mile oval. There were several surges during their race but none that broke the elastic. The only rider that had a gap of any significance was Catherine James (Kenda p/b Geargrinder). However, her solo move lasted two laps before she was absorbed back into the field.
With 7 laps remaining two ladies broke away gaining a lead of a few seconds. But with six laps it was one rider – Susan Jones-Morgan of the Greenville Women squad. Right on her heels was the rest of the peloton. However, the sense of urgency was lacking as the group was spread curb to curb.
But as with the other moves, the next lap the lone rider was pulled back and the peloton was groupo compacto. It looked like the South Carolina state criterium championships was going to be decided in a field sprint. The Kenda team was at the front keeping the pace steady through the start/finish area looking perhaps to set up one of their riders.
With two laps to go James was once again leading the group as a gambler’s prime was announced. This was sure to increase the pace.
Giselle Weeks (Team Headstrong), yesterday’s I’On Criterium second place finisher, took the $25 prime on the bell lap, but was now in the front of the group. Had she expended too much energy to win the prime to contest the final sprint?
Leading the charge around the final turn was Nicole Johnson (Kenda p/b Geargrinder). Johnson’s surge separated three riders from the group. In the lunge for the line the three riders were shoulder to shoulder throwing their bikes for the win. In the push for the line DIY Music’s Addy Albershardt broke the finish line tape first with Christina DeKraay in second and Bergen Watterson rounding out the podium. However none of these three ladies were South Carolina residents and therefore not eligible for the state championship medal. The first South Carolinian was fourth place finisher Sam Smith of Headstrong and was now the state champion.
“We had a little bit of a communication error yesterday (at I’On criterium) and we were determined to not have it again,” said Smith after the race.
“We knew there was some super strong girls from North Carolina, so we were going for the medal,” continued Smith. “The win would have been great but the medal was more important and we would have happily sacrificed that (the win).”
The day’s winner gave credit for her bike throw to Team HTC-Highroad’s Ina-Yoko Teutenberg.
“She’s the one to learn from,” said Albershardt.
While only 16 years old (17 years old racing age) Albershardt has already been racing for four years. Look for this talented young lady to stand on the top step of the podium many more times in the years to come.
Quotes at the race
“Do you want to interview me now or after I win?” Randy Owens (Hincapie Development Squad – mentor) who then went on to win his category 3 race.
“Not again!” What an unknown rider screamed as he went off course, crashing into a palm tree and launching himself over the bars.
The complete SC state championships results can be seen at Pre-Reg.com