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Luke Keough wins Old Pueblo Grand Prix

By:
Neil Browne

Kirchmann repeats as women's champion

Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) wins the Old Pueblo Grand Prix ahead of Demis Aleman (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home) and Rahsaan Bahati (Sharecare Cycling p/b Wheelandsprocket.com).

Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) wins the Old Pueblo Grand Prix ahead of Demis Aleman (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home) and Rahsaan Bahati (Sharecare Cycling p/b Wheelandsprocket.com).

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The Old Pueblo Grand Prix in Tucson, Arizona was the first race in the USA Crits series - a ten-race event that travels through the US with the finale in Las Vegas during Interbike. In addition to a winner's jersey there are several other leader jerseys to contest: overall leader jersey, lap leader jersey for most laps in the front, under-25 rider, and Transitions Out of Sight jersey for the breakaway of the day.

The race also serves as the opening round of USA Cycling's National Criterium Calendar (NCC) series.

The Old Pueblo Grand Prix course was a .6 mile rectangular loop with both wide and then narrow stretches of road.

Elite women

An early solo attack by Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) developed into the winning move at the Old Pueblo Grand Prix with the defending champion taking the win.

The defending Old Pueblo champion Kirchmann quickly distanced herself from the peloton, finishing ahead of the field with a 40 second advantage.

The first $100 prime of the night was taken by Erica Allar (Care4Cyling p/b Solomon Corp) who had Annie Ewart (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies) tucked onto her rear wheel. The duo only escaped for a couple of laps. The orange helmets of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies brought the duo to heel.

Soon the action reignited with a counter attack by Leah Kirchmann. She quickly had a 22-second advantage on the main field.

Kirchmann easily took the next $100 prime and instead of the prime motivating the peloton and reducing the time gap, the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies rider increased her lead to 27 seconds.

With 17 laps remaining Kirchmann settled into time trial mode and her gap stabilized at 27 seconds. Her Optum teammates were monitoring the front not allowing other teams to organize a chase.

With 13 laps remaining Kirchmann's lead extended to 30 seconds. In an effort to motivate the peloton a field prime was announced and Terra James (Kenda p/b RACC) took the cash. The field prime did nothing to decrease the time gap between them and the solo rider, however. Instead, Kirchmann added four more seconds to her lead on the peloton.

With 10 laps remaining the gap had grown to 40 seconds between Kirchmann and the single-file peloton. Lauren Stephens (FCSJZngine p/b Mr. Restore) got to the front in a last ditch effort to bring her back, but it was too little too late.

With two laps remaining the 23-year old Canadian almost lapped the field, and barring disaster, was assured of victory at the Old Pueblo Grand Prix Criterium.

On the bell lap the chasing peloton spread itself out across the street in the battle for the lower placings. Nipping at the peloton's heels was Kirchmann who had plenty of time to post up and celebrate her solo victory.

The peloton sprinted out of the darkness with Erica Allar (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon), the 2012 USA Crits series leader, was the fastest in the peloton crossing the line in second place, 40 seconds behind Kirchmann. Rounding out the podium for third was Joanie Caron (Primal Pro Women p/b BH).

The Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies team strategy was fairly simple.

"We wanted to have an aggressive race and to make it exciting," said Kirchmann. "We took turns and countered off each other's moves. It worked out that it was my move that stuck."

Being off the front for the majority of the race wasn't easy for the defending Old Pueblo Grand Prix champion, but was motivated by the crowd.

"It's a bit of a mental battle to stay focused and keep my efforts steady. The cheering really helped."

Being solo for the majority of the race Kirchmann earned all four USA Crits jerseys: leader's jersey, lap leader for most laps in the front, under-25 rider, and Transitions Out of Sight jersey for the breakaway of the day.

"I didn't know there was that many jerseys in the race," said Kirchmann. "This race has given me great confidence. I've been working on my time trialing and it's given me confidence to ride away from a group."

Elite men

A three-man break managed to hang off the front of the peloton for most of the race, but with three laps remaining the UnitedHealthcare-led peloton caught the break and lead-out their youngest member and sprinter Luke Keough for the win.

With the sun dipping under the horizon 103 pro/elite men lined up in downtown Tucson for the start of the Old Pueblo Grand Prix. The field faced 75 minutes of racing on the rectangular course.

The first $200 prime of the night got the field strung out in a fast, single-file formation.

Alexander Ray (ISCORP Racing Intelligentsia Coffee) broke away and took the cash. He stayed off the front as a five-deep points prime was announced. These points went to the USA Crits leader's jersey competition.

With multiple primes constantly being announced the speed was fast which resulted in a crash, sending many riders into the neutral pit. One of those in the pit was defending 2012 USA Crits series winner Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling) who was clutching his shoulder. However, the 21-year-old from Massachusetts was pushed back into the race.

Alex Candelario (Optum p/b Kelly Benefits Strategy), Juan Magallanes (P&S-Specialized), Carlos Alzate (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), and Eric Marcotte (Elbowz Racing) were the first significant break to gain on the peloton. They carved out a handful of seconds advantage but a two-hundred dollar cash prime put the fire into the peloton and they were brought back.

Out of the final corner the group was altogether but Magallanes managed to hang on for the prime cash.

At halfway through the race Chad Beyer (Champion System), Gord Fraser (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie) and Luis Amaran (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home) escaped and carved out a tenuous seven-second lead.

At 45 years of age Fraser, a former pro and three-time Olympian, was the oldest racer in the field.

At the mid-point of the race a points prime was announced with Fraser taking the maximum on offer followed by Amaran and Beyer. Closing fast was the blue train of UnitedHealthcare.

The trio was working well together and increased the lead to 15 seconds with 24 laps remaining. There was still plenty of time to bring them back, however.

With 18 laps remaining the time gap between the escape trio and the UnitedHealthcare-lead peloton was stabilized at 18 seconds – not enough of a threat to stay away. The UnitedHealthcare squad was letting the break dangle off the front, but not allowing them too much leash.

With 12 laps to go UnitedHealthcare, with Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis lined up behind them, started to increase the speed in the field. At 11 laps to go a field prime was announced and the result was five seconds erased from the trio's gap.

Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare) took the field prime with his five teammates in a single-file behind him. The breakaway's time off the front was coming to an end.

With three laps remaining the breakaway was caught on the finish line by the UnitedHealthcare squad.

On the bell lap the UnitedHealthcare squad owned the front of the race with nothing but the blue kits six deep in a single-file.

Coming out of turn three on the last lap Keough was sitting on the third wheel ready for the field sprint.

"They had confidence in me and put me onto the back of the train," said Keough, who had finished in third place at last year's Old Pueblo Grand Prix.

Sprinting out of the peloton was Keough taking the win with Demis Aleman (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home) in second, and Rahsaan Bahati (ShareCare Cycling p/b Wheelandsprocket.com) third.

"Its a good win to start off the US season," said Keough. "It was a hard race and the break gave us a run for the money."

In addition to winning the race, Keough took the yellow National Criterium Calendar current leader's jersey, the grey U-25 leader's jersey, and the orange USA Crits overall leader jersey.

Due to his effort in the breakaway, Fraser was awarded the Transition Award for best breakaway.

Full Results

Elite women
1 Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
2 Erica Allar (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)    
3 Joanie Caron (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)    
4 Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
5 Cari Higgins (Exergy TWENTY16)    
6 Lenore Pipes (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)    
7 Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse/Oogie Racing)    
8 Jennifer Valente (ExergyTWENTY16)    
9 Morgan Patton (Team Novo Nordisk)    
10 Lauren Stephens (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)    
11 Tiffany Pezzulo (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)    
12 Anne Donley    
13 Annie Ewart (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
14 Amber Gaffney (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
15 Alisha Welsh (Sabino Cycles Racing)    
16 Cinthia Lehner (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)    
17 Jessica Prinner (Care4Cycling p/b Solomon)    
18 Christy Keely (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)    
19 Irena Ossola (Team Kenda)    
20 Melina Bernecker (Primal Pro Women P/B BH)    
21 Anna Sanders (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)    
22 Marilyn McDonald (Landis/Trek)    
23 Melissa Ross (FASTER Performance Center)    
24 Terra James (Team Kenda p/b RACC)    
25 Carrie Cash Wootten (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)    
26 Kelli Emmett (Giant Bicycle)    
27 Whitney Schultz (SkiNourishment p/b Paceline Projects)    
28 Gwen Inglis (Team Kenda p/b RACC)    
29 Amity Elliot (Team Kenda p/b RACC)    
30 Kaytie Scott (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)    
31 Julie Cutts (Primal Pro Women)    
32 Nichole Wangsgard (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)    
33 Kapri Gonzales (Landis/Trek)    
34 Chloe Black (Sabino Cycles Racing)    
35 Colleen Gulick (Team Kenda p/b RACC)    
36 Kat Carr (SkiNourishment p/b Paceline Projects)    
37 Judy Jenkins (Landis/Trek)    
38 Katherine Ross (Pepper Palace Pro Cycling)    
39 Lindsey Durst (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)    
DNF Lee-Ann Beatty (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
DNF Lisa Ribes (Sabino Cycles Racing Team)    
DNS Rachel Byus (FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)    
DNS Kimberly Truitt (Landis/Trek)    
DNS Stacey Jensen (Team Kenda p/b RACC)    
Elite men
1 Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
2 Demis Aleman (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)    
3 Rahsaan Bahati (Sharecare Cycling p/b Wheelandsprocket.com)    
4 Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
5 Shane Kline (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
6 Michael Weicht (CashCall Mortgage)    
7 Alex Candelario (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
8 Conor Mullervy (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)    
9 Charles Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)    
10 Kevin Mullervy (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)    
11 Euris Vidal (CRCA/Foundation)    
12 Guido Palma (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)    
13 Travis McCabe (Elbowz P/B Boneshaker)    
14 Juan Magallanes (P&S-Specialized)    
15 Rafael Meran (CRCA/Foundation)    
16 Eric Marcotte (Elbowz Racing)    
17 Jesse Goodrich (California Giant / Specialized)    
18 Anthony Canevari (SoCalCycling.com)    
19 Eric Young (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
20 Gavriel Epstein (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)    
21 Alexander Ray (Iscorp Racing Intelligentsia Coffee)    
22 Thomas Brown (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
23 Michael Dziedzic (Landis/Trek)    
24 Cody O'Reilly (Team Predator Carbon Repair)    
25 Neil Bezdek (CRCA/Foundation)    
26 Fabrizio Von Nacher (CashCall Mortgage)    
27 Hector Rangel (P&S-Specialized)    
28 Quinn Keogh (Landis/Trek)    
29 Carlos Alzate Escobar (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
30 Griffin Easter (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)    
31 Ruben Companioni (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)    
32 Derek Wilkerson (Bomb Hair p/b Motofish)    
33 Frank Travieso (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
34 Cesar Grajales (Predator Cycling Carbon Repair)    
35 Zack Allison (Think Finance p/b Trek Bicycle Store)    
36 Ryan Dewald (Team Skyline)    
37 Greg Ratzell (Young Medalists)    
38 Luis Alberto Romero Amaran (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)    
39 Gabe Varela (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)    
40 Gordon Fraser (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
41 Drew Christopher (Primal p/b McDonald Audi)    
42 Todd Wells (Specialized Factory Racing)    
43 Jeanmichel Lachance (Team Predator Carbon Repair)    
44 Simon Lambert-Lemay (Garneau Quebecar)    
45 Marsh Cooper (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
46 Mike Sherer (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
47 Chad Beyer (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)    
48 Justin Williams (CashCall Mortgage)    
49 Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
50 Anton Varabei (JetFuel Coffee/ Norco Bicycles)    
51 Michael Woell (Freewheel Bikes)    
52 George W. Cyrus (Landis/Trek)    
53 Cameron Rex (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)    
54 Andrew McCullough (Mt Borah / Minerva Design p/b Basso)    
55 Brad White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
56 Alejandro Guzman (CRCA/Foundation)    
57 Mac Cassin (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)    
58 Luis Lemus (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)    
59 Benjamin Swedberg (California Giant / Specialized)    
60 John Salskov (TRU Composites)    
61 Willy Zellmer (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)    
62 Brian McCulloch (CashCall Mortgage)    
63 John (Jackie) Simes (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
64 Craig Streit (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
65 Jonathan Parrish (Athlete Octane)    
66 Mike Friedman (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
67 Brian Forbes (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
68 Sergio Hernandez (Team Predator Carbon Repair)    
69 Chad Hartley (Sharecare Cycling p/b Wheelandsprocket.com)    
70 Dakota Schaeffer (D3 Devo)    
71 Wes Kline (D3 Devo)    
72 Travis Samuel (JetFuel Coffee/ Norco Bicycles)    
73 Steven Muhle (Athlete Octane)    
74 Billy Jones (Iscorp)    
75 Sergio Escutia (Mexico)    
76 Nicholaus Schreiber (Landis/Trek)    
77 Paul Thomas (Landis/Trek)    
78 Garrett Suydam (Primal p/b McDonald Audi)    
79 Victor Riquelme (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
80 Brian Cornelius (Julie Bar)    
DNF Rob Alvarez (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
DNF Nathan Mitchell (Body by Vi p/b VeloVie)    
DNF Anthony Hall (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)    
DNF Nick Keough (CRCA/Foundation)    
DNF Jesse Keough (CRCA/Foundation)    
DNF Lucas Wardein (D3 Devo)    
DNF Yuri Hrycaj (JetFuel Coffee/ Norco Bicycles)    
DNF Jared Gilyard (Landis/Trek)    
DNF Branden Russell (Novo Nordisk)    
DNF Kevin Black (Octto-Cervelo)    
DNF Michael Creed (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)    
DNF Jorge Moreno (P&S-Specialized)    
DNF Emile Abraham (Team Predator Carbon Repair)    
DNF Isaac Howe (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
DNF Benjamin Chaddock (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)    
DNF Todd Farrell (Think Finance p/b Trek Bicycle Store)    
DNF Adrian Hegyvary (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)    
DNF Roy Pickavance    
DNS Daniel Eaton (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)    
DNS Thomas Jondall (Julie Bar)    
DNS Stephen Clancy (Novo Nordisk)    
DNS Ruud Cremers (Novo Nordisk)    
DNS Michael Dalterio (Novo Nordisk)    
DNS Justin Morris (Novo Nordisk)    
DNS Stevie Cullinan (Optumas p/b CycloLogic)    
DNS Gilberth Gomez Valverde (Somerville Bicycle Shop p/b Showcase Auto Body)