Coming up: Downtown Austin Crit

The fourth leg of the USA Crit series is coming up in Austin, Texas, on Saturday, at the second annual Downtown Austin Criterium.

In the men's competition, cyclists such as Italy's Luca Damiani (Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light), who won the CSC Invitational, and USA's Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing), who missed winning his second 2008 USA Crits race by a whisker last Sunday at the Harlem Skyscraper Classic, will be going wheel-to-wheel against the likes of Cubans Yosvany Falcon and Frank Travieso (Toshiba-Santo presented by Herbalife), Australia's Hilton Clarke (Toyota-United), his brother Jonny, and Cuba's Ivan Dominguez and Australia's Henk Vogels. Vogels has a few wins under his belt already this year, including the Scott Kornfield Coal Miners Classic and stage 4 of the Tour of the Gila.

Even though the field is full of Texas-size rivalries, hometown favourites Texas Tough/Hotel San Jose are not just going to sit back and allow teams like Rock Racing, Toshiba-Santo, and Toyota-United to steal the limelight unchallenged. Led by Columbia's Carlos Vargas, the Lone Star state's 2007 rider of the year, Texas Tough/Hotel San Jose is ready to press their home court advantage.

In the women's competition, Tina Pic (Colavita Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light) will continue her rivalries with USA Crits stalwarts Kelly Benjamin, Laura Van Gilder, and Allyson Brandt (Cheerwine), Erica Allar and Rebecca Larson (Aaron's), and Jen McRae (Team Advil-ChapStick). Pic, the US National Criterium Champion, is also the current USA Crits 2008 Speed Week Champion. She will arrive in Austin fresh from winning the Cannon Falls Road Race and taking second place in the Minneapolis Downtown Classic. Also grabbing headlines is Pic's Colavita teammate Kristin McGrath, who is also heading to Austin after just being named Best Rider at the six-stage Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota.

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(Additional editorial assistance provided by Susan Westemeyer.)

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