Italian Elena Cecchini (Estado de Mexico Faren) won the Winston-Salem criterium with well-timed and well-positioned finishing kick to the line over Kiwi Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco) and US criterium champion Alison Powers (UnitedHealthcare).
Cecchini, clad in a long sleeve jersey that covered the bright pink of her Faren team, made sure to hit the front at the last turn as she knew the distance from the turn to the line was very short.
"My team brought me to the front on the last lap and I got behind the UnitedHealthcare train, " Cecchini said. "I knew there was very little room to pass other riders after the last turn, so I went into that in first position. It worked out well."
Unfamiliar with the short, technical and fast-paced races that are so common in the USA, Cecchini thanked her team for their work in keeping her at the front and out of trouble throughout the race.
"We don't do this kind of racing in Europe, so I tried to stay in the first positions," Cecchini said. "My team did a wonderful job going in all of the breakaways so I could stay rested for the sprint."
Kiesanowski had to come back from a mechanical mid-race, but thanks to criterium rules was pushed back from the pits into a much-diminished field. Her team put her into a position on Powers' wheel for the finale, but she was caught by surprise by the Italian race winner.
“It was crazy and hectic the last few laps. A lot of elbowing. You had to hold your ground. My track experience definitely helped,” Kiesanowski said. “Ali led it out in the last lap and I think she thought she had Hannah Barnes on her wheel, but she didn’t. When she swung wide on the last corner, Cecchini got inside of Powers and I went with her and was able to get past Ali on the line but I couldn’t quite get to Cecchini.”
The highly tactical fourth round of the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar series saw numerous attacks, but none that reached the proper configuration for success.
Powers was part of a late-race move that included two-time NCC overall winner Erica Allar (Colavita) but the UnitedHealthcare rider seemed displeased with the amount of work being done and sat up, taking Allar back to the field. A quick counter-attack included Charlotte Criterium winner Hannah Barnes (UHC), but Tibco missed the move and shut the break down.
UnitedHealthcare took control over the last five laps, hoping to dominate in the sprint, but the cagey Italian flew under everyone's radar, jumping away out of the final turn and winning by a clean set of wheels. Powers had to settle for third behind Kiesanowski.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Elena Cecchini (Ita) Estado De Mexico Faren||0:58:43|
|2||Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Team TIBCO To the Top||0:00:00|
|3||Alison Powers (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:01|
|4||Shelley Olds (USA) Alé Cipollini|
|5||Erica Allar (USA) Colavita-Fine Cooking||0:00:01|
|6||Hannah Barnes (GBr) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:01|
|7||Sam Schneider (USA) Team TIBCO To the Top||0:00:03|
|8||Lauren Stephens (USA) Team TIBCO To the Top||0:00:03|
|9||Laura Van Gilder (USA) Mellow Mushroom p/b Pink Siren||0:00:03|
|10||Lenore Pipes (Gum) Colavita-Fine Cooking||0:00:04|
|11||Barbara Guarischi (Ita) Alé Cipollini||0:00:04|
|12||Mia Radotic (Cro) BTC City Ljubljana||0:00:05|
|13||Anna Trevisi (Ita) Estado De Mexico Faren||0:00:06|
|14||Maria Giulia Confalonieri (Ita) Estado De Mexico Faren|
|15||Liza Rachetto (USA) Vanderkitten|
|16||Jade Wilcoxson (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit St||0:00:06|
|17||Eugenia Bujak (Pol) BTC City Ljubljana||0:00:07|
|18||Olivia Dillon (Irl) Colavita-Fine Cooking||0:00:07|
|19||Sharon Laws (GBr) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:07|
|20||Lara Vieceli (Ita) S.C. Michela Fanini - ROX||0:00:07|
|21||Laura Jorgensen (USA) Mellow Mushroom p/b Pink Siren||0:00:09|
|22||Arianna Fidanza (Ita) Estado De Mexico Faren||0:00:10|
|23||Meredith Miller (USA) Pepper Palace Pro Cycling||0:00:11|
|24||Marta Tagliaferro (Ita) Alé Cipollini||0:00:11|
|25||Malgorzata Jasinska (Pol) Alé Cipollini||0:00:11|
|26||Michela Pavin (Ita) Alé Cipollini||0:00:11|
|27||Maria Luisa Calle (Col) Colombian National Team||0:00:12|
|28||Mary Zider (USA) Colavita-Fine Cooking||0:00:12|
|29||Denise Ramsden (Can) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit St||0:00:15|
|30||Andrea Dvorak (USA) Team TIBCO To the Top|
|31||Brianna Walle (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit St||0:00:15|
|32||Anna Teresa Casas Bonilla (Mex) Mexican National Team||0:00:17|
|33||Jessica Cutler (USA) FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore||0:00:18|
|34||Cinthia Lehner (USA) PainPathways Racing||0:00:18|
|35||Sarah Fader (USA) Pepper Palace Pro Cycling||0:00:18|
|36||Lauren Tamayo (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:19|
|37||Alison Tetrick (USA) Twenty16 Professional Cycling T||0:00:19|
|38||Whitney Schultz (USA) Colavita-Fine Cooking||0:00:20|
|39||Sara Headley (USA) Team TIBCO To the Top|
|40||Cari Higgins (USA) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:22|
|41||Amanda Miller (USA) Team TIBCO To the Top|
|42||Allie Dragoo (USA) Twenty16 Professional Cycling T||0:00:34|
|43||Janel Holcomb (USA) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit St||0:00:44|
|44||Joelle Numainville (Can) Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies|
|45||Rushlee Buchanan (NZl) UnitedHealthcare||0:00:57|
|46||Amy Cutler (USA) FCS|Zngine p/b Mr. Restore||0:00:58|