The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Hilton Clarke and Jake Keough captured 1st and 3rd place respectively in the 9th Annual Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Team Jamis Sutter Home’s Alejandro Borrajo split the two UnitedHealthcare sprinters to finish second. Keough had crossed the line in second but was relegated to third for irregular sprinting. Clarke’s win was his second of the season and the victory allows him to remain atop the National Criterium Calendar’s (NCC) individual standings.
With the light fading in downtown Charlotte, the elite men’s race was ready to roll in the Presbyterian Hospital Invitation Criterium. The 134 riders faced 40 laps of the 1.3 mile barbell shaped course.
With just one lap completed Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home) was already off the front with the purpose of lining his pockets with prime money. Finally, after a couple of solo laps, the prime bell rang for $500.
Wamsley was able to hold on for the prime, and he continued to roll in search of more prime money.
Back in the peloton the blue kits of UnitedHealthcare were at the front keeping the gap between Wamsley and two bridging riders in check.
Wamsley started to realize he was fighting a losing battle and sat up letting Jared Barrilleaux (Cal Giant/Specialized) and Heath Blackgrove (Elbowz racing) join him. Realistically they knew there was no chance of staying away for the remaining 32 laps, but with the frequent primes being announced they could at least make this a profitable evening.
UnitedHealthcare had enough of the trio’s lead, so last year’s winner Jake Keough went to the front and started to bring it back to a more manageable gap.
A $250 prime once again ignited the peloton and the entire group was head to tail as they screamed down North Tryon Street. With 30 laps remaining the local heroes were at the back, desperately trying to remain in the draft of the big teams.
While the trio gobbled up cash primes the chasing peloton continued to gain stream and take back a handful of seconds each lap.
With 28 laps remaining the three riders had a 33 second lead and once again the bell rung again – $500.
At the front UnitedHealthcare and Bissell were stringing the group out. Gaps were starting to form with in the peloton as the horsepower was tearing it apart. As a result, the breakaway lost five seconds with 25 laps remaining.
With 23 laps remaining the $500 cash prime reinvigorated the break and grew their lead to 45 seconds.
At the midway point the trio’s lead had been reduced to 30 seconds due to the efforts of Team Exergy and the UnitedHealthcare squad. However, the night’s biggest dollar prime was just a lap away – $1,000.
With the big dollar prime lurking on the horizon the peloton continued to gobble up the gap between themselves and the three riders off the front.
As the three riders rolled through the start line the thousand dollar prime was announced. Would they continue to work together or would the back stabbing begin?
Continuing to work together, Wamsley rolled across the line for the prime – they still appeared to be committed to staying away for the remaining 16 laps of the race. However, the gap was continuing to shrink – smart money was they would be caught before the race entered single digit laps.
With 14 laps to go the gap had dropped to 23 seconds with UnitedHeathcare driving the front of the peloton. The boys in blue were just letting the trio dangle off the front, discouraging a counter attack and allowing them to set up their sprinters Jake Keough or Hilton Clarke for the win.
As expected, with 12 laps remaining the three riders only had a handful of seconds separating them from the UnitedHealthcare led peloton. However, with a capture close, UnitedHealthcare look their foot off the gas pedal and let the gap grow a few more seconds.
With 11 laps remaining Barrilleaux was popped from the break and it was now just Wamsley and Blackgrove off the front. The peloton must have sensed the slow death of the break and accelerated.
UnitedHealthcare continued to control the front but seemed to be toying with the now two riders off the front. With a $500 prime grabbed by the duo and nine laps remaining it was time for a team to reel them back. All five UnitedHealthcare riders were at the front with Keough surfing fourth wheel. It seemed like he, who has returned to the States after a European campaign, was their go to guy for the field sprint.
For the final prime of the night, worth $500, Blackgrove surged ahead to take the cash. However, right on his rear wheel was the UnitedHealthcare squad. It was soon to be game over for the brave New Zealander.
With three to go Blackgrove was caught and UnitedHealthcare were in charge.
Someone didn’t tell Blackgrove as he attacked again with two other riders. It was more a show of defiance as they were quickly caught. But with two laps remaining Ben Zawacki (Team Mountain Khakis presented by Smart Stop) attacked. It was just a short lived stab at glory as at the 1.5 laps to go he was already caught.
On the bell lap UnitedHealthcare took their position at the front with Karl Menzies taking a huge pull with riders peeling off as the speed increased. Clarke seemed to be in the sweet spot of the train waiting for the final stretch.
Around the final corner Menzies completed his final pull and out of the shadows three riders had separated themselves. Crossing the line first was Clarke, followed by teammate Keough and Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) in third. However, Keough was relegated a position for not holding his line in the closing meters and moved to third, elevating Borrajo to second place.
“All five of us were riding,” said Clarke of the last laps of the race. “We brought it back to ten seconds gap and decided to leave it right there because we knew we could reel it back in. But I can tell you it was all hands on deck.”
“Watching from the sidelines it might have looked easy, but it was one of the toughest ones we’ve done.”
Immediately following the race the Charlotte squad was flying to New York for compete in the Battenkill road race.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare)||1:52:07|
|2||Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home)||0:00:01|
|3||Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare)|
|4||Issac Howe (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)|
|5||Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy)||0:00:02|
|6||Robin Carpenter (Chipotle First Solar Development)||0:00:03|
|7||Oscar Clark (Team United Healthcare GA/706)||0:00:04|
|8||Tommy Nankervis (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)|
|9||Daniel Holt (Team Type 1 Development)||0:00:05|
|10||Frank Travieso (Team Coco's)|
|11||Colin Jaskiewicz (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)|
|12||Scottie Weiss (VeloShine Cycling Team)|
|13||Thomas Brown (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|14||Chris Stazny (California giant/specialized)|
|15||Chad Hartley (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)|
|16||Alexey Shmidt (Team Type 1 Development)||0:00:06|
|17||Jean-Michel Lechance (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)||0:00:07|
|18||Jackie Simes (Jamis/Sutter Home)|
|19||Clay Murfet (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|20||Kevin Mullervy (Team Exergy)||0:00:08|
|21||Joseph Schmalz (ELBOWZ Racing)|
|22||Gavriel Epstein (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)|
|23||Heath Blackgrove (ELBOWZ Racing)||0:00:09|
|24||David Williams (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)|
|25||Guido Palma (Jamis/Sutter Home)||0:00:10|
|26||Rafael Meran (CRCA/Foundation)||0:00:11|
|27||Chris Harkey (VeloShine Cycling Team)|
|28||David Cueli (Team Coco's)||0:00:12|
|29||John Eisinger (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)||0:00:14|
|30||Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare)||0:00:15|
|31||Andrew Crater (Cleveland Clinic Sports Health)||0:00:21|
|32||Ivan Dominguez (Team Franco Bicycles)||0:00:22|
|33||Ian Burnett (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)||0:00:27|
|34||Conor Mullervy (Team Exergy)||0:00:45|
|35||Benjamin Swedberg (California giant/specialized)||0:00:52|
|36||Shane Kline (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)||0:01:00|
|37||Ben Chaddock (Team Exergy)||0:05:30|
|38||Mat Stephens (ELBOWZ Racing)|
|39||Clayton Barrows (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)|
|40||Brian Arne (Low Country Racing p/b Champion)||0:05:31|
|41||Sean Sullivan (ELBOWZ Racing)|
|42||Emile Abraham (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)|
|43||Chad Burdzilauskus (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)|
|44||Jay Thomson (UnitedHealthcare)|
|45||Benjamin Zawacki (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|46||Euris Vidal (CRCA/Foundation)|
|47||Ricky Gargiulo (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)|
|48||Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home)|
|49||Jim Baldesare (Cleveland Clinic Sports Health/)|
|50||Leonardo Martinez (Team Cocos)|
|51||Jared Barrilleaux (California Giant/Specialized)|
|52||Jose Frank Rodriguez (Team Cocos)|
|53||Brett Kielick (160over90 p.b Vie 13/QCW)|
|54||Julian Cabra (Team Metro Reprographics p/b De)|
|55||John Delong (VeloShine Cycling Team)|
|56||Gabe Lloyd (XO RACING p/b Cisco Systems)|
|57||Chris Blake (Happy Tooth Racing)|
|58||Matthew Howe (Happy Tooth Racing)|
|59||Scott Edge (Team Athletix benefiting Global)|
|60||Erik Broo (Happy Tooth Racing)|
|61||Nicholas Rogers (160over90 p.b Vie 13/QCW)|
|62||Eric Losak (Team Clif Bar)|
|63||Justin Lowe (Team Athletix benefiting Global)|
|64||Thomas Rabou (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)|
|65||Ryan Mele (Stan's NoTubes/AXA Equitable)|
|66||Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized)|
|67||Nathaniel Ward (Embrocation Cycling Journal)|
|68||Evan Fader (Earthfare/i9 pb Cyclesport Concepts)|
|69||Samuel Gevan (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)|
|70||Emilio Daniel Asconeguy (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)|
|71||John Loehner (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)|
|72||David Lozano (Team Type 1 Development)|
|73||Chris Ernst (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)|
|74||Nathan Smith (Low Country Racing p/b Champion Systems)|
|75||Branden Russell (Team Type 1 Development)|
|76||Marc Williams (Team Athletix Benefitting Globalbike)|
|77||Alejandro Guzman (CRCA/Foundation)|
|78||John Bergmann (Team Clif Bar)|
|79||Johnny Mitchell (Team Metro Reprographics p/b DeMaine Chiropractic)|
|80||Cody Johnson (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)|
|81||Stradford Helms (Team Type 1 Development)|
|82||Phil Grenfell (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)|
|83||Maxwell Robb (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)|
|84||Brendan Dillow (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)|
|85||Damien Dunn (Cyclesport Concepts)|