David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies) made history as the first rider from Canada to win the US Pro Criterium Championships race held in the Village of Glencoe, Illinois on Saturday. The current Canadian National Criterium Champion won a two-man sprint ahead of breakaway companion Bernie Sulzberger (Fly V Australia) and his teammate Alessandro Bazzana, who took third.
"It's a bit of a bitter-sweet win because we were looking forward to the US jersey but at least we won the bike race," said Veilleux. "I saw we had a gap so I rode hard to open it; my director Jonas Carney told me to go for the win.
"Before the race we wanted to win the jersey but if we were in the situation to win the bike race then we were allowed to go for it. When they saw we were two foreign riders I don't think they were concerned and kind of let us go," he explained.
Daniel Holloway (Bissell) placed fourth on the day but as the first American to cross the line he wins the prestigious stars and stripes jersey of the US Pro Criterium Champion. He sprinted ahead of his countrymen and early breakaway companions Ken Hanson (Team Type 1), Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies) and Shane Kline (Bissell).
When asked to sum up how he felt about winning the national championship title in a word, Holloway replied: "Satisfied. I had my Dad in my head today and he gave me motivation. As a sprinter in America this is something you always want to win. It means a lot to me."
New venue offers an unpredictable race
The championship event was relocated to the Village of Glencoe this year after being held in nearby Downers Grove for 23 years. Race director Jon Knouse is the promotor of the original Glencoe Grand Prix and agreed to work with Special Events Management to host the US Pro Criterium Championships.
The men raced for a total of 100km on a two-kilometre criterium circuit that offered a challenging climb and 10 fast, technical turns.
"I thought it was a great course," said Candelario, who has raced the championship event on 10 occasions. "It's unfortunate we don't have Downers Grove because it is nice to have some tradition in America; we don't have very many races that continue year after year. But, when a community comes out to support an event like this you have to really show a lot of gratitude towards that.
"They put on a great race and I thought the course was worthy of a national championships, it was hard," he continued. "I thought it was harder than Downers Grove. Downers Grove was so set in stone that everyone had their game plan year after year so you saw the same race play out year after year. It was pretty boring. Today, you could tell right away that it was a hard race and a break was going to go."
The event has a long history of attracting international riders and teams. It is recognised as an event that allows foreign riders to participate alongside the Americans, whereby the first American rider to cross the line will win the national title. Some of the fastest and cagiest criterium specialists from around the world graced the start line under hot and humid temperatures.
Big break shatters tradition
The US Pro Criterium Championships has traditionally come down to a bunch sprint; however, the new venue proved challenging and its unpredictability led to a breakaway in nearly every category event held before the professional men's race.
There were several large and tactful moves throughout the race but the one that stuck came at the mid-way point. The breakaway included 12 riders, of which eight were American. Veilleux led the way with teammates Scott Zwizanski and Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Bazzana, Sulzberger and Jonathan Cantwell (Fly V Australia), Mike Friedman and Bernard van Ulden (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda), Shane Kline and Holloway (Bissell), Ken Hanson (Team Type 1) and Matt Crane (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis).
UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis wasn't comfortable with the odds of having one rider represented in a breakaway of 12, so the team rallied at the front of the main field in an effort to reduce the time gap. The squad received help from Kenda-Geargrinder and Ivan Dominguez (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita) in the closing laps. However, the time to the breakaway fluctuated between 40 and 50 seconds.
"I knew that in the end it was going to be hard for me to cover the attacks and counter attacks," said Crane. "There was a bit of pressure but I was happy that we had someone in the break. If we had one or two more guys up there it would have been a better scenario for us.
"We would have liked to reshuffle the deck and bring the race back into our favour," he added. "Having more than one rider up there would have been better for us and we could have played some different cards and some stronger cards."
The mix of nationalities along with team banners lead to a tactical and gripping finale amongst the breakaway contenders. Veilleux, Zwizanski, Bazzana, Kline and Van Ulden did the majority of the pace setting to ease the workload for their respective sprinters.
The competition amongst the Americans for the national title proved to be much lucrative, even if it meant giving up the actual race win to a foreign rider.
Bazzana made a move inside 10 laps to go but his efforts were shut down by the Americans in the breakaway when Scott Zwizanski bridged across. Veilleux was the next to go, followed by Sulzberger, and since both riders were foreign they were granted leeway to make a run for it.
The pair maintained an advantage of 30 seconds throughout the final five laps ahead of their former breakaway companions; Veilleux rounded the last corner ahead of Sulzberger and held that position all the way to the finish line for the win.
"I didn't want to work because Henk [Vogels] and Ed [Beamon] were saying that we had Jonny there," said Sulzberger afterwards. "They knew he was going well from Elk Grove so I didn't have to do anything. I did a couple of turns at the start and then just sat on.
"With two to go he [Veilleux] said he wasn't going to work. I did two turns and he did the rest. I tried to get around him for the last turn because I knew I had to get in front of him but he was too good, got in front of me in the last corner and I couldn't get around him."
With third place and the national title still on the line, Crane was the first to attack the remnants of the original breakaway. His efforts were short lived and countered by Cantwell, although it was Bazanna who crossed the line in third place.
As the gap from the main breakaway to the main field dwindled with one lap to go, Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies) bridged across and offered his lead-out services to teammate Candelario.
"We had three guys in the break and Veilleux, being Canadian, was our wild card to play," said Candelario. "I was feeling pretty good but all of us were feeling it because it was a hard race. We played some attacks, chased and attacked again.
"It was fun, it was real bike racing. The field started to catch us so there was a little bit of panic. We ended up on the last lap having an eight man sprint."
Holloway rounded the final corner and outpaced Hanson in the break sprint to the line. The pair were closely followed by Candelario. "Going into the last corner a lot of guys were looking at Cantwell but he just played it cool," said Holloway. "He had a strong guy up the road. It was four guys wide and Ken Hanson went on the inside. I shut it down in the last corner so that I could carry my speed and I had a solid line around the last corner to the line."
The main field finished a mere two seconds behind the winning breakaway where Aldo Ino Iiesic (Team Type 1) won the bunch sprint for ninth place.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies)||2:29:31|
|2||Bernie Sulzberger (Fly V Australia)|
|3||Alessandro Bazzana (Fly V Australia)||0:00:25|
|4||Daniel Holloway (Bissell Pro Cycling)||0:00:27|
|5||Kenneth Hanson (Team Type 1)|
|6||Jonathon Cantwell (Fly V Australia)|
|7||Alexander Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies)||0:00:28|
|8||Shane Kline (Bissell Pro Cycling)||0:00:29|
|9||Aldo Ino Ilesic (Team Type 1)|
|10||Kyle Wamsley (Bissell Pro Cycling)|
|11||Charles Huff (Jelly Belly pb Kenda)||0:00:30|
|12||Michael Friedman (Jelly Belly pb Kenda)|
|13||Karl Menzies (Unitedhealthcare pb Maxxis)|
|14||Rahsaan Bahati (Ouch Bahati Foundation)|
|15||Shawn Milne (Team Type 1)||0:00:31|
|16||K Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling)|
|17||Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|18||Zachary Davies (Fly V Australia)|
|19||Robert Bush (Kenda Pro Cycling)|
|20||Frank Travieso (Jamis/sutter Hom)||0:00:34|
|21||Mark Hekman (Mountain Khakis)||0:00:35|
|22||Timothy Farnham (Adageo Energy)|
|23||John Simes (Jamis/Sutter Home)|
|24||Neil Shirley (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|25||Robert White (Kenda Pro Cycling)||0:00:36|
|26||Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly pb Kenda)||0:00:37|
|27||Matthew Crane (Unitedhealthcare pb Maxxis)|
|28||Neil Bezdek (Mountain Khakis)||0:00:39|
|29||Daniel Bowman (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|30||Isaac Howe (Mountain Khakis)|
|31||Ryan Anderson (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|32||Will Routley (Cycling)||0:00:40|
|33||Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|34||Peter Latham (Bissell Pro Cycling)||0:00:44|
|35||Guy East (Kelly Benefit Strategies)|
|36||Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/sutter Hom)||0:00:46|
|37||Martijn Verschoor (Team Type 1)||0:01:06|
|38||Jonathan Clarke (Unitedhealthcare pb Maxxis)||0:01:14|
|39||Sergio Hernandez (Jelly Belly pb Kenda)||0:01:22|