Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia) stole another victory for his team from a large group that lapped the field at the National Racing Calendar (NRC) Sunny King Criterium held in Anniston, Alabama on Saturday.
The Australian sprinter went on to win the bunch kick to the line ahead of Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation) in second and his teammate Alessandro Bazzana in third.
Hundreds of competitors lined up under dusk hours for the start of the twilight 60-lap criterium. The one kilometre, four-corner course is notorious for being fast with an uphill drag to the finish line followed by a long descent on the backside of the circuit.
Call ups included defending champion Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare), former US Pro Criterium Champion Rahsaan Bahati and teammate Nathan O'Neill (Bahati Foundation), Chad Hartley (Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder), Isaac Howe (Mountain Khakis fb Jittery Joes) and the rest of the field.
Andrew Crater was the first to make a move off the front of a very fast start to the men's race. The soloist picked up several lucrative cash primes in his three-lap breakaway. Bahati Foundation was largely responsible for reeling him back into the field.
Daniel Holt (Team Type 1) attacked in the early laps but was quickly brought back with in half lap. Nathan O'Neill (Bahati Foundation) was the next to make a move but he too was unsuccessful in staying away. Chad Hartley (Kenda Pro Cycling) counter attacked and soloed for several laps.
The sky darkened as the sun set and the riders depended on street lights for vision. Hilton Clarke (Bahati Foundation) tried to speed things up with an attack. However, after several early season victories, all eyes were on the Australian sprinter as one of the race favorites and the peloton gave him no leeway.
Small groups formed and the field splintered as one attack after another lead to the formation of five breakaway riders that included Clarke and Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home). Three riders bridged across to form a nine-man move however a lack of organization and motivation neutralized the break and they were reeled back in.
The large group reshuffled and riders from the field tried to bridge across. Amaran and Cesar Grajales (Bahati Foundation) pushed the pace at the front of the breakaway by attacking it several times to form a smaller and more efficient group. Chasers from the original breakaway pulled themselves back across to the two riders.
The front group ballooned to approximately 15 riders with a 30-second gap ahead of the field and every team represented by at least one rider.
The break included defending champion Karl Menzies and Matt Crane (UnitedHealthcare), Ben Kersten and Alessandro Bazzana (Fly V Australia), Hilton Clarke and Cesar Grajales (Bahati Foundation), Frank Travieso and Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita), Tim Henry (Team Type 1), Rich Harper (Kenda Pro Cycling p/b Geargrinder), Will Hoffarth (Mountain Khakis), Chad Burdzilauskas (Kenda Pro Cycling), Alder Martz (Globalbikes) and Ty Magner (Loccos Grill and Pub).
A game of cat and mouse caused the breakaway to lose some of its advantage over the field but continued attacks from individual riders in the move kept them safely out front with a 35-second advantage.
With 27 laps to go, Grajales made a decisive move. It forced his breakaway companions to chase and allow his teammate Clarke to save his legs for the finale sprint. Amaran jumped next, followed by Bazzana and the pair gained an instant 10-second gap.
The leading duo became more dangerous as they moved closer to the back of the peloton. They successfully lapped the main field inside 20 laps to go. The large chase group lapped the field shortly after making the race win between the original 15-rider breakaway.
The odds-on favorite sprinters Menzies and Clarke who were both former winners of the race. Clarke was prepared to use his experience from winning the race in 2008, which was also from a breakaway that lapped the field. The peloton blasted around the last corner in a gallop to the line won by Kersten, with help from his teammate Bazzana. Clarke placed second and Bazzana held on for third.
|1||Ben Kersten (Aus) Fly V Australia||1:22:05|
|2||Hilton Clarke (Aus) Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling|
|3||Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Fly V Australia|
|4||Chad Burdzilauskas (USA) KENDA Pro Cycling p/b GEARGRINDER|
|5||Karl Menzies (Aus) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|6||Luis Romero Amaran (USA) Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita|
|7||Frank Travieso (USA) Champion Porsche P/b Herbalife|
|8||Ty Magner (USA) Locos Grill & Pub|
|9||Will Hoffarth (USA) Team Mountain Khakis f/b Jittery Joes|
|10||Cesar Grajales (USA) Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling|
|11||Tim Henry (USA) Team Type 1 Development|
|12||Alder Martz (USA) Team Globalbike|
|13||Rich Harper (USA) KENDA Pro Cycling p/b GEARGRINDER|
|14||Matthew Crane (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|15||Isaac Howe (USA) Team Mountain Khakis f/b Jittery Joes|
|16||Jacob Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|17||Schmidt Alexey (Rus) Team Type 1|
|18||Eric Barlevav (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|19||Thomas Brown (USA) Team Mountain Khakis f/b Jittery Joes|
|20||Sebastian Flaskamp (Ger) Droessiger|
|21||Rahsaan Bahati (USA) Bahati Foundation Pro Cycling|
|22||Olaf Kerkhof (Ned) Team Type 1 Development|
|23||Allison Pat (USA) Team Ion-United Healtcare|
|24||Adrian Hegyvary (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|25||Meyer A.J. (USA)|
|26||Jonathan Atkins (USA) Outspokin|
|27||Brian Toone (USA) Tria Market p/b DonohooAuto.co|
|28||Chad Hartley (USA) KENDA Pro Cycling p/b GEARGRINDER|
|29||Terry Duran (USA) Tria/Donohoo Auto|
|30||Murphy Eric (USA) Team Ion-United Healtcare|
|31||Juan Pablo Dotti (Arg) Aerocat Cycling Team|
|32||Holt Daniel (USA) Team Type 1|
|33||Tiago Depaula (USA) DEPAULA RACING|
|34||Casey Magner (USA) Locos Grill & Pub|
|35||Michael Stone (USA) Hincapie Development|
|37||Winston David (USA) Team Ion-United Healtcare|
|38||Tyler Karnes (USA)|
|39||Jonathan Clarke (USA) UnitedHealthcare Professional|
|40||Jim Stemper (USA) KENDA Pro Cycling p/b GEARGRINDER|
|41||Chris Monteleone (USA) Team Kenda|
|42||Travis Sherman (USA) warp9bikes.com - TriStar|
|43||Rob White (USA) Team Kenda|
|44||Jon Hamblen (USA) Mtn Khakis|
|46||Robert Giannini (USA) Locos Grill & Pub|
|47||Oscar Clark (USA) Team Mountain Khakis f/b Jitte|
|48||Yosvany Falcon (USA) Bahati Foundation Elite Team|
|49||Matthew Howe (USA) the happy tooth p/b Inside-Out|
|50||Collins Joseph (USA) Locos Grill & Pub|
|51||Emilio Asconeguy (USA) Aerocat Cycling Team|
|52||Ivan Dominguez (USA) Jamis Sutter Home p/b Colavita|