The second season of the USA Crits series will continue in Oklahoma for the Tulsa Tough this Saturday, May 31. Regarded as one of the most challenging criteriums in the series, the fast and technical course will once again prove to be selective for the overall. As the second race in the series, the standings are wide open for change.
After the first round race in Athens, the men's standings are currently in control of the Colavita squad, which second and sixth at Athens with sprinter Sebastian Haedo and Kyle Wamsley, but with both riders heading to competing events on the East Coast, and Athens winner Rahsaan Bahati injured, the time will be ripe for the Toyota United squad to take control by sending its full squad to Tulsa, including B World Road Race Champion Ivan Stevic, and Ivan Dominguez.
Team Inferno has some firepower of its own in the form of Australia's "Lightning" Jeff Hopkins. The former Junior World Track Champion finished in third place behind Toshiba-Santo's Mark Hekman during USA Crits Speed Week, so Hopkins is determined to improve his ranking in the series.
In the women's match-up, a few of the teams to watch are Advil Chapstick, Cheerwine, Vanderkitten Racing, and New Zealand's Jazz Apple Cycling Team. Jen McRae (Advil Chapstick) and Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) are first class racers, but they're going to have to perform at their very best to fend off Jazz Apple's Malindi Maclean, New Zealand's current National Criterium Champion, and her team-mate Lauren Ellis, the National Elite Points Pace Champion.
Event organizer Malcolm McCollam is excited about the caliber of cyclists who will compete. "Inclusion of Tulsa Tough in the USA Crits Series is a major milestone for our event, signaling to the cycling world that Tulsa Tough is a major event on the domestic calendar, and it's here to stay."
The Tulsa Tough attracts amateur cycling enthusiasts too during what will be a weekend festival. There will be a fitness challenge, tour rides, kids and youth activities, and live music, all supported by sponsors, vendors and community partners. The Children's Hospital at St. Francis is giving 3rd, 4th and 5th graders an opportunity to win a free bike, helmet and T-shirt through the Tulsa Tough. The hospital is promoting bike safety by encouraging kids to improve their riding skills. www.tulsatough.com has more information on all weekend activities.
Following Tulsa, the USA Crits series heads to New York City for the Harlem Skyscraper Classic on Sunday, June 15.