In the waning daylight of a sun soaked afternoon in Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino summed up Saturday's proceedings perfectly, declaring the fourth annual TD Bank Mayor's Cup Criterium a spectacular day for the city. "I love this event," he said. "And it's only going to keep getting bigger and better."
Indeed, the final event of USA Cycling's National Criterium Calendar series was one to remember — especially for anyone who likes exciting bike racing.
Both the pro men's and pro women's affairs were decided by less than half a bike length, with Massachusetts native Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop) and Arizonian Erica Allar (RideClean-PatentIt.com) each grabbing narrow victories at that end of 60-minute races contested on a tight and twisty 0.7-mile circuit that wound its way around Boston's historic City Hall Plaza. This prime downtown locale and perfect fall weather drew crowds in excess of 10,000 people.
The pro races are part of the two-day Boston Cycling Celebration, which also included amateur and junior criterium races on Saturday, plus Sunday's Hub on Wheels Charity Ride where over 6,000 participants will get to ride one of three routes (10, 30, or 50 miles) that pass scenic harbors, travel along tranquil pathways, and meander through Boston's myriad charming and eclectic neighborhoods.
Perhaps the only person who didn't have a good Saturday was Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare). The Aussie strongman was in prime position to take his first win of the 2012 season but he threw his hands up in victory just a tad too early, allowing Luke Keough to slip by on his left side. The difference at the line was about six inches.
"I'd never posted up and lost a race before, so I guess now I've done it all," said a philosophical Menzies, who didn't try to hide from his mistake. "It's more embarrassing than anything. The team did an awesome effort and I left the inside open for our sprinters because I didn't expect anyone else to be there. But credit to Mountain Khakis and Luke. They took the win. If I pedaled one more time, maybe I'd win the race. But that doesn't matter now."
Menzies attributed his gaffe in part to the fact that he's spent most of this season in the service of others, providing the final lead-out for Jake Keough (Luke's brother and a top sprinter himself) and Hilton Clarke, who'd wrapped up the overall NCC title before the race in Boston.
"That was part of the problem," added Menzies. "I was so excited to win my first race of the year. I never looked left and it cost me."
Luke Keough knows the feeling. Earlier this year at the under-23 national criterium championships in Georgia, he did the exact same thing. "I came out of the last turn first and put my hands up," he said. "But there was a big headwind and I got pipped at the end. I guess it happens to the best of us. I'm just glad it was different today. It's not the best way to win, but I'll take it. I'm from the Boston area and I had tons of friends and family here. It was such a great scene, and it's amazing the way the Mayor and his people are pushing cycling in this city."
Prior to the finish line drama, the race's major story was a four-man breakaway that established early in the race, opened a gap that maxed out at around 35 seconds, and didn't get reeled in until the penultimate lap. The escapees included Tim Mitchell (CCB), Alejandro Guzman (CRCA/Foundation), David Wenger (Bicycle Sport Shop), and Jean-Michel Lachance (Rossetti Devo). The quartet worked well together, gobbling up nearly all of the $3,000 in primes, but the big checks ($12,000 total) went to those near the front at the finish.
"We've been racing against UHC all year and we know what the script is," said Mountain Khaki's team captain Adam Myerson, whose teammate Shane Kline snagged third behind Menzies. "If they don't have a guy in that move we know it's coming back. So we tried to be attentive but we weren't chasing. We just didn't want to miss anything. We've been trying to go over the top of them all season long and failed every time. So for us to come from behind and do it was so awesome."
The women's race had a similar David vs. Goliath theme, though David (aka Allar) has been winning all season. The former Penn State student came to Boston having already wrapped up the overall NCC crown. But wanting to finish strong and also honor the recent death of a good friend was all the motivation she needed to keep pushing.
Despite having no teammates to counter the strength of the 5-rider Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies squad, Allar stayed patient while Optum's Janel Holcomb was off the front early in the race, and was able to dash past Optum's Jade Wilcoxson at the finish.
"I was solo so to beat a full Optum squad is really special," said Allar. "I just bided my time when Janel was in the break, figuring it would come back together. Then when Jane hit it hard going in to second to last turn I stayed patient. It was pretty far out so I just sat on her wheel and hit back on the last turn and was able to come around at end."
Wilcoxson settled for second, with the ageless Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) in third.
"This is such a great event, plus they do equal prize money for men and women, which is great," said Allar of the $30,000 total prize purse. "My friend who passed away was one of my biggest supporters. He started a group called ‘Allar's Army' that came and cheered me on at races. So I really wanted to honor him today."
|1||Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|2||Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|3||Shane Kline (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|4||Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|5||Jacob Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|6||Rafael A. Meran (CRCA/Foundation)|
|7||Cesar Marte (GS Mengoni USA)|
|8||Jesse Anthony (Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|9||Isaac Howe (Kenda / 5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling)|
|10||Daniel Holt (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|11||Euris R. Vidal (CRCA/Foundation)|
|12||Adam Farabaugh (Ekoi.com-Gaspesien)|
|13||Jesse Keough (www.keoughcyclocross.com)|
|14||Robin Carpenter (Chipotle First Solar Developmen)|
|15||Adam Myerson (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|16||Robbie King (Boston Bicycle School)|
|17||Adam Carr (Ekoi.com-Gaspesien)|
|18||Neil Bezdek (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|19||Alexey Shmidt (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|20||Max Korus (Kenda / 5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling)|
|21||Ted King (Liquigas-Cannondale)|
|22||Andrea Ciacchini (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|23||Jeremy Durrin (J.A.M. Fund / NCC)|
|24||Anton Varabei (Jet Fuel Coffee/La Bicicletta)|
|25||Alejandro Guzman (CRCA/Foundation)|
|26||Michael Chauner (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)|
|27||Thomas Brown (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|28||Jonathan Patrick McCarty (Team SpiderTech)|
|29||Etienne Samson (Deda / Hype)|
|30||Stephan Hirsch (United Healthcare of Georgia p/b the 706 Project)|
|31||Jean-Michel Lachance (Rossetti Devo)|
|32||Aaron Hubbell (Bissell-ABG-NUVO)|
|33||Eric Workowski (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)|
|34||John Abate (Monster Media p/b MRI)|
|35||Victor Riquelme (Wonderful Pistachios Pro Cycling)|
|36||Sean McCarthy (J.A.M. Fund / NCC)|
|37||Jermaine Burrowes (WS United/ Mango Seed Restaurant)|
|38||Gavriel Epstein (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)|
|39||Mike Margarite (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)|
|40||John Loehner (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)|
|41||Brett Kielick (160over90 p.b. Vie13/QCW)|
|42||Augusto Sanchez (GS Mengoni USA)|
|43||Paul Lynch (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|44||Frankie McCormack (Clif Bar / Pactimo)|
|45||Jake Hollenbach (Boston Bicycle School)|
|46||Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|47||Nick Rogers (160over90 p.b. Vie13/QCW)|
|48||Paolo Cravanzola (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|49||Skip Foley (ATA Cycle)|
|50||Pete Custer (BIKE DOCTOR p/b DigiSource)|
|51||Ryan Mele (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)|
|52||Barry Miller (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)|
|53||Kevin Wolfson (Boston Bicycle School)|
|54||Eugene Boronow (GS Mengoni USA)|
|55||Andy Scarano (United Healthcare of Georgia p/b the 706 Project)|
|56||Branden Russell (Team Type 1 Devo)|
|57||Tim Mitchell (CCB Racing)|
|58||Peter Bell (MetLife - NorEast Cycling)|
|59||Mark McCormack (Clif Bar/Pactimo)|
|60||David Casale (Tri-State Velo Amoroso's Racing)|
|61||Horace Burrowes (WS United/ Mango Seed Restaurant)|
|62||John Sakalowsky (Team Romeo)|
|63||Franklin Burgos (James Vincent Bicycles/ JV Racing)|
|64||Davide Frattini (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|65||Anthony Taylor (CRCA / Dave Jordan Coaching)|
|66||David Wenger (Bicycle Sport Shop p/b Integrity)|
|67||Daniel Summerhill (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team)|
|DNF||John Hanson (Boston Bicycle School)|
|DNF||Clay Murfet (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)|
|1||Erica Allar (RideClean/PatentIt.com)|
|2||Jade Wilcoxson (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|3||Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom)|
|4||Lindsay Bayer (Colavita-espnW Pro Cycling)|
|5||Jen McRae (787 Racing)|
|6||Kat Carr (Paceline Projects p/b Veloforma)|
|7||Lauren Tamayo (Exergy TWENTY12)|
|8||Jennifer Purcell (TIBCO/To The Top)|
|9||Brenna Lopez-Otero (Bend Memorial Clinic Total Care)|
|10||Amy McGuire (FCS/Rouse p/b Mr. Restore)|
|11||Laura Ralston (Team Kenda p/b Geargrinder)|
|12||Veronneau Kate (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)|
|13||Annie Ewart (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|14||Frances Morrison (J.A.M. Fund/NCC)|
|15||Anna Young (Pure Energy Cycling-ProAirHFA)|
|16||Emma Bast (Speedfix p/b Zubaz)|
|17||Crystal Anthony (Cyclocrossworld.com)|
|18||Kathleen Billington (Vanderkitten-Focus)|
|19||Jenny Ives (Farm Team Elite Women's Racing)|
|20||Mary Zider (Colavita-espnW Pro Cycling)|
|21||Amy Phillips (Mystique Cycling Team)|
|22||Victoria Hanks (Peanut Butter & Co. Human Zoom)|
|23||Martha Buckley (Wheelworks Racing)|
|24||Ann Marie Miller (CRCA/Eumaeus Asset Management)|
|25||Lindsay Myers (TIBCO/To The Top)|
|26||Kerrin Strevell (Farm Team Elite Women's Cycling)|
|27||Catherine Dessureault (Real Deal Racing /La Bicicletta)|
|28||Raquel Miller (Farm Team Elite Women's Racing)|
|29||Janel Holcomb (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|30||Elizabeth McDonough (Arc-En-Ciel Racing Team)|
|31||Whitney Schultz (Paceline Projects p/b Veloforma)|
|32||Rachel Heal (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|DNF||Debbie Milne (Absolute Racing/ MSMOC)|