Tina Pic (Colavita-Sutter Home) added a sixth national criterium title to her collection after winning the US National Criterium Championships on the streets of Downer's Grove on Sunday. Her victory capped off a decorative professional cycling career and thousands of Pic's fans gathered at the podium presentation to bid her a final farewell as she prepared for retirement at the end of this month.
"I lost this race a lot of times and made a lot of big mistakes before I ever won it," said Pic who started her professional career in 1996. "I'm nostalgic leaving the peloton this year and it's going to be really hard. My team was and always had been amazing. They kept going and going today. We had to chase a lot of moves today."
Colavita-Sutter Home took the long way around to capture the victory. Pic's team burned one rider at a time in pursuit of multiple threatening breakaways from the tough-to-contain and ever-offensive Tibco squad. Their hard-fought efforts to hold the field together paid off when Pic rounded the final corner first and held off the defending champion Brooke Miller (Miller) and rising sprint star Shelley Olds (Proman-Hitsquad) in third.
"I'm bummed we didn't get the win but it's Tina Pic," said Miller. "She's fantastic and there's a reason that she has won this race six times on this course. It is what it is and my girls were great. It's really fun to be a part of this organization and see my teammates race the way they did."
Some 70 elite professional cyclist lined up to start the women's US National Criterium Championship event held in Downer's Grove. From the start, Tibco pulled out all the stops in an attempt to force a breakaway to stick. Amber Rais was the first to gain time on the field forcing riders from Team Type 1, Value Act Capital, Altarum and Colavita-Sutter Home to try to bridge.
Upon Rais' return, Current US National Road Champion Meredith Miller was the next to go and gained a maximum of 30 seconds. Carrie Cash (Team Revolution), Amanda Miller (Lip Smackers) made individual attempts to bridge across without success. Colavita-Sutter Home was forced back on the front to reduce Millers margin.
"I think the whole peloton was willing to let us do all the chasing and we didn't get a lot of help from anyone," said Pic. "We waited for Team Type 1 to help, but they sat behind us. I was worried that after all the work we were doing that Brooke Miller was sitting in and was probably well rested. My team did it all out there."
The field reunited with ten laps to go and the cat and mouse game between the two giant teams Tibco and Colavita-Sutter Home continued. Robin Farina intercepted the game and took a flyer. She was followed by two former national champions Laura van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom) and Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci) along with previous day's winner Katharine Carroll (Tibco). However, not having Colavita-Sutter Home in the mix killed the move and reset the game again.
The final four laps saw Tibco organize all six riders on the front with Miller tucked in behind protected for the sprint. Sprinters Pic and Olds along with VanGilder, Cliff-Ryan, Jen McRae (Team Type 1) positioned themselves behind Miller. However, the move, disguised as a lead-out was in reality an attempt to launch Carroll.
Carroll jumped inside two laps to go and her teammates looked back watching at the field waiting to see who would take the bait. Carroll passed under the finish line banner with one lap to go, out of the saddle and sprinting to hold off the field as they struggled to get organized behind.
"It was a flawlessly executed team strategy and totally different from how we've raced all year," said Miller. "We were changing things up today and it was incredibly fun and great to see everyone racing so well. Kat was supposed to attack exactly where she did and we were all going to sit up and let her go. You always come up with these fun little plans but you don't always get chances in the race to perfectly execute them. To have everyone up there was picture perfect. It caused panic behind."
Kelly Benjamin (Colavita-Sutter Home) used her sprint to jump out of the field and close down Carroll's margin with half a lap to go. Pic found Olds' wheel and the two surfed their way up to the front before the final turn. Pic was the first out of the corner and busted out her sprint to take her sixth national criterium champion jersey.
|1||Tina Pic (USA) Colavita Sutter Home p/b Cooking Light||1:19:00|
|2||Brooke Miller (USA) Team TIBCO|
|3||Shelley Olds (USA) PROMAN Hit Squad|
|4||Jennifer McRae (USA) Team Type 1|
|5||Theresa Cliff-Ryan (USA) Verducci Breakaway Racing|
|6||Laura Van Gilder (USA) Mellow Mushroom|
|7||Erica Allar (USA) BMW-Bianchi|
|8||Sinead Miller (USA) None|
|9||Christina Smith (USA) veloforma|
|10||Jennifer Purcell (USA) Team Hotel San Jose|
|11||Lauren Tamayo (USA) Team TIBCO|
|12||Rebecca Lawson (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team|
|13||Debbie Dust (USA) PACT/Dishnetwork|
|14||Kirsten Davis (USA) BMW-Bianchi|
|15||Kacey Manderfield (USA) Team Lip Smacker|
|16||Hilary Billington (USA) Team Lip Smacker|
|17||Rebecca Wellons (USA) NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire D|
|18||Robin Farina (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team|
|19||Devon Haskell (USA) Team BH|
|20||Jackie Kurth (USA) Team Kenda|
|21||Amanda Miller (USA) Team Lip Smacker|
|22||Leigh Hopkins (USA) VanderKitten Racing|
|23||Alison Powers (USA) Team Type 1|
|24||Kori Seehafer (USA) Team Type 1|
|25||Kristen Meshberg (USA) BH USA|
|26||Kristin Wentworth (USA) Team Kenda|
|27||Samantha Schneider (USA) Team Type 1|
|28||Melissa Sanborn (USA) VanderKitten Racing|
|29||Carrie Cash (USA) Team Revolution|
|30||Tiffany Pezzulo (USA) DFT p/b Treads|
|31||Elizabeth Morse Hill (USA) Hub Racing|
|32||Jenette Williams (USA) Altarum Women's Cycling Team|
|33||Sheba Farrin (USA) Hub Racing|
|34||Jessica Prinner (USA) ABD|
|35||Kristen LaSasso (USA) Mellow Mushroom|
|36||Jennifer Wilson (USA) VanderKitten Racing|
|37||Lisa Jellett (USA) Verducci Breakaway Racing|
|38||Katharine Carroll (USA) Team TIBCO|
|39||Amy McGuire (USA) Hub Racing|
|40||Martina Patella (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team|