The USA Cycling's NRC series heads to the east coast, with the criterium specialists hitting four races in four days from Raleigh, North Carolina to New Jersey. The first race of the series, the Raleigh Downtown criterium is the youngest of the races. Only in its third year, the race is drawing an increasingly large and talented field of riders to the newly renovated streets of North Carolina's capitol city.
Last year's race saw massive downpours that soaked the men's field, but the forecast this year calls for dry and clear conditions. 2006 winner of the women's race, Sarah Caravella, will return with her new team, Aaron's Pro Cycling team, but she will have to contend with sprinter extraordinaire, Laura Van Gilder, who will be bringing a strong Cheerwine team to back her up.
The racers will pack up after the evening's crit and head north to Baltimore for Saturday's Bike Jam festival, followed by Monday's classic, the Tour of Somerville in New Jersey. Somerville is also a part of the USA Crits series, which is currently led after one round by Abercrombie & Fitch's Mark Hekman and Aarons' Katharine Carroll.