By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
While the majority of residents in the Chicago area will be hearing the jets and airplanes of the annual Air and Water Show this weekend, those in the know will be headed to the western suburb of Downers Grove to watch the fastest cyclists in North America battle for bragging rights at the U.S. Criterium Championships. Three national championships are on the line - USPRO men, USCF professional and elite amateur women and USCF elite amateur men.
As in Philadelphia, the stars and stripes jersey goes to the first American over the line, but that does not stop the usual North American based contingent of foreign riders from trying for a part of the $22,000 purse. Since 1991, when the race was first run in Downers Grove, an equal number of foreign and US riders have won the race, with the most recent being Jonas Carney in a spectacular final turn duel with veteran Robbie Ventura. However, both Ventura and Carney retired after last year's race, leaving the champion jersey out of competition this year.