Erica Allar capped off her stellar season in the US criterium circuit by winning the USA CRITS series finale, the Tour of Vail, to secure the overall victory in the nine-race series and the team overall for her RideClean/PatentIt.com squad.
The win follows her overall success in the inaugural year of USA Cycling's National Criterium Calendar (NCC), a 12-race series for women.
It was a season-long effort for the 27-year-old, who resides in Tucson, Arizona and works with coach and partner Jame Carney.
"The NCC overall victory was the brain child of Jame. We started the season March 10th with the USA CRITS Series, which is what our team was targeting."
Allar got started with the USA CRITS series by winning the opening events in Delray Beach and coming second in her home town of Tucson at the Old Pueblo GP.
It was her third place in the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational, one of three races that was part of both series, and then a victory at the Sunny King Criterium (NCC) that led her to believe in her chances for topping the two main criterium honours.
"Winning the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama ... I took over the lead and we realized the NCC overall win was not out of the question. My win against a full team of Optum riders set the stage for the remaining NCC calendar.
"Once I was leading, barring crashes or mechanical problems, our strategy to win the overall was to have much more consistency in my racing and results this year than any year before. I was able to do that ... which ultimately earned enough points for the NCC win."
Crediting her off-season training and Carney's tactical knowledge, Allar was able to finish on the podium in 14 of the 19 total races that made up the USA CRITS and NCC, as well as claiming the overall wins in the USA CRITS Speedweek and Tulsa Tough omniums. The only race she missed was the Air Force Classics, which conflicted with Tulsa Tough, and she never finished lower than sixth place in any of the stand-alone events.
It's been a remarkable year not only for Allar, but also for her young team, which was launched earlier this year.
"We have been very lucky with the support system we had in our first year as an elite women's team," Allar said.
"I feel that as a new women's team, it was especially important to be able to report back to our sponsors such as PatentIt.com and those behind RideClean about the teams accomplishments. It shows that not only are we serious but we are competitive and have what it takes to do well. It has really set the stage and establish a positive platform for us to continue to develop and grow as a team.
"Jame has worked very hard and I am grateful and excited to have had the opportunity to win the NCC in its inaugural year. The fact that USA Cycling honored the NCC champions at the last NCC event in Boston, Massachusetts shows the level of support and enthusiasm behind this new national racing series structure. RideClean/PatentIt.com has had a phenomenal year and we are thrilled to take home this NCC victory."