Eric Young (Bissell) took the biggest win of his cycling career in front of a sponsor-filled audience at the shortened USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships held on Saturday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The neo-pro out-paced Brad Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda) who placed second, Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare) in third, Isaac Howe (Kenda/5-hour Energy)in fourth and Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) in fifth.
"With only 30 to go, it was still enough of a race where guys were able to be active," said Young who will race with Bissell in 2012. "In camp in February our directeur Omer [Kem] pinpointed this race for me and a couple of guys, we really wanted to win it. I didn't really believe that was in the cards for me but it's been an incredible year and this team has helped me develop so much, they are an unbelievable group of guys. The win hasn't set in, obviously, but it is an honour to come back with Bissell next year and represent the US in its colours."
The event was held on a 1.2km, six-corner course in conjunction with the Herman Miller Grand Cycling Classic. For the first time, the event was held for American riders only. In previous years, the sport governing body permitted foreign riders and last year's event was won by Canadian David Veilleux, who now races for Europecar. The stars and stripes jersey went to Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), who was the first American to cross the line.
Chief race official Phil Miller restarted a full 53-rider field following an intermediate neutralization due to foul weather conditions, considered by some competitors as round two of the championship event. Riders line up for a second time to contest 30 laps.
The peloton took the first few laps gingerly as the rain and wet roads caused slippery center lines and crosswalk paint through the corners.
Much like in round one, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth sent its riders on the attack while Bissell assumed position at the front of the field ready to follow moves. Both teams had riders crash with in the first three laps through wet corners. Other riders were forced to ride up on the side walks and bunny hop curbsides to avoid crashing.
Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) drove the pace at the front of the field causing separations behind him. Huff was the next riders to make a move followed by Frank Pipp (Bissell) and Bobby Sweeting (Kenda/5-hour Energy). Sweeting's teammate James Stemper took over the pace setting followed by riders from UnitedHealthcare and Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth.
Pat Lemieux (Kenda/5-hour Energy) launched an attack that was countered by Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth). The field came back together as teams Bissell, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth and UnitedHealthcare slowly convened at the front of the field in anticipation of a bunch sprint with eight laps to go.
Two riders from Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth crashed through the last corner, while two more of its riders simultaneously rode off the front. The pair were quickly joined by a third teammate and Jacques-Maynes.
Riders from Jelly Belly p/b Kenda and UnitedHealthcare closed down the gap with five laps to go. Brad White and Adrian Hegyvary (UnitedHealthcare) moved to the front of the field with four laps to go in support of their sprinter Jake Keough.
Bissell moved into the mix with three laps to go as Pipp took over the race lead. Holloway and Candelario sat several riders back ready to sprint for the finish line with two laps to go.
Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth provided a less dominant and cohesive lead-out compared to the full seven-man train at the end of the first round of racing. However, the team still had seven riders scattered throughout the field.
Bissell and Jelly Belly p/b Kenda moved into the top three positions prior to the bunch kick. Huff started his sprint with roughly 250 metres to go. He was followed by Young, who caught and then passed him at the line for the championship victory. Huff felt his sprint from the last corner was interrupted by an abrupt move on part of the Bissell train, but that Young's win was deserved after a clean sprint on the way to the line.
"Parts of the race were a little frustrating," Huff said. "The number of riders in the field the second time around was not a good representation of the riders that were left inside the 10 laps to go of the first race. Some teams benefitted and some didn't. It was hard to keep account of all the riders so for simplicity they put all forty riders back in."
"I'm happy with second but I feel like had I not been hampered by the Bissell lead-out train, I would have been able to do the Brad Huff blow-by going into the last corner," he said. "But, Young came around me and so he deserved to win."
USA Pro Criterium Championships - Round one
The peloton assembled on the starting line at the USA Cycling Pro Criterium Championships but no one could have predicted that the race would be shortened and then temporarily cancelled due to bad weather conditions.
Defending champion Daniel Holloway was the first rider called to the line ahead of teammate Alex Candelario, former winner Brad Huff and teammate Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Isaac Howe (Kenda/5-hour Energy), Frank Pipp (Bissell), Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare), Frank Travieso (RealCyclist.com) and Sterling Magnell (Wonderful Pistachios).
The first laps of the race were dominated by the 13-rider Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth squad, however, all its moves were followed by Bissell, both fielded full teams. Other full teams included Kenda-5/hour Energy and Jelly Belly p/b Kenda.
Jason Donald (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) made his move in the early stages of the race, followed by teammate Chad Haga and Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell). Donald's team continued to launch counter attacks beginning with Holloway followed by Bajadali and then Anthony. Teams that tried to bridge across or ignite a chase included Kenda/5-hour Energy, Bissell and Jelly Belly p/b Kenda.
Race officials were forced to shorten the race due to the onset of thunder storms and dangerous weather conditions. To make matters worse, a large crash in the middle of the field resulted in two main groups, separated from one another by 15 seconds.
UnitedHealthcare sent three of its three riders to set a quick pace in front of the lead group. However, the 25-man front group included multiple riders from Bissell, Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth.
Yosvany Falcon (RealCyclist.com) made a big attack and gained several seconds ahead of the field, however, he crashed through a corner and was caught by the field lead by UnitedHealthcare. Several other groups of riders crashed on the wet road paint during the following laps.
Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth moved four of its riders to the front of the field with seven laps to go. UnitedHealthcare set up three riders directly behind followed by Jelly Belly p/b Kenda and Bissell.
Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth dominated the front group with roughly nine riders represented with five laps to go. Seven of the team's riders moved to the front with four laps to go. An unfortunate crash took down several of those lead-out men. Just when it looked like a fierce field sprint was about to take place, race officials call off the race.
"Once it started to rain, with five laps to go, everything turned to thick snot," Huff said. "Downtown streets can be pretty dirty and slick and guys were crashing everywhere. With 20 laps to go, they took 10 laps off, and with three laps to go they stopped the race because it was impossible to ride your bike because of the wind."
The skies grew darker and wind picked up causing course barriers, banners and debris onto the roads. Miller neutralized the race with three laps to go, noting they would resume the race with 30 laps to go when weather improved.
"I think a lot of teams were caught off-guard with trying to prepare for Colorado [USA Pro Cycling Challenge] next week," Young said. "Our title sponsor is from here and so we had a nice apartment to hang out in and dry our clothing and relax a little bit, who knows, that might have been an advantage."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Eric Young (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|2||Charles Huff (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|3||Jacob Keough (UnitedHealthcare)|
|4||Isaac Howe (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|5||Alexander Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|6||Frank Travieso (Realcyclist.com)|
|7||K Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|8||Ty Magner (Team Type 1)|
|9||Yosvany Falcon (Realcyclist.com)|
|10||Eric Schildge (Jamis/Sutter Home)|
|11||Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|12||Zachary Davies (Fly V Australia)|
|13||Sterling Magnell (Wonderful Pistachios Cycling)|
|14||Patrick Lemieux (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|15||Andy Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|16||Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1)|
|17||Chad Hartley (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|18||Michael Sherer (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|19||Christopher Monteleone (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|20||Collin Samaan (Wonderful Pistachios Cycling)|
|21||David Williams (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|22||Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|23||Kenneth Hanson (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|24||Michael Creed (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|25||Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|26||Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|27||Andrew Bajadali (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|28||Colton Barrett (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|29||Cole House (Realcyclist.com)|
|30||Chad Haga (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|31||Andrew Baker (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|DNS||Sean Mazich (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|DNF||Shane Kline (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|DNF||Kyle Wamsley (Bissell Pro Cycling Team)|
|DNF||Adrian Hegyvary (UnitedHealthcare)|
|DNF||Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare)|
|DNF||John (Jackie) Simes (Jamis/Sutter Home)|
|DNF||Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Daniel Bowman (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Jason Donald (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Julian Kyer (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Jonathan Mumford (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Thomas Soladay (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth)|
|DNF||Emerson Oronte (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|DNF||Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly Presented By Kenda)|
|DNF||Shawn Milne (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|DNF||Jacob Rytlewski (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|DNF||James Stemper (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|DNF||Robert White (Kenda Pro Cycling presented by Geargrinder)|
|DNF||Alex Bowden (Team Type 1)|
|DNF||Charles (Joe) Eldridge (Team Type 1)|
|DNF||Joseph Kukolla (Subway Pro Cycling)|
|DNF||Weston Luzadder (Jamis/Sutter Home)|