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Kersten aims to defend US Pro Criterium victory

Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia), center, seeks a repeat victory at the US Pro Criterium Championship this weekend.

Ben Kersten (Fly V Australia), center, seeks a repeat victory at the US Pro Criterium Championship this weekend. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich/

Jonathan Cantwell may have a series of consecutive victories under his belt but his Fly V Australia team will ride in full support of the defending champion Ben Kersten at the US Pro Criterium Championship held in Glencoe, Illinois on Saturday.

"We are bringing Benny back to defend his victory," said Fly V Australia's technical director Ed Beamon. "As the defending champion we pushed to make sure we had a team there. It is a big market in Chicago, an important race on the American calendar, we have a great criterium team and we should be there. We are also bringing the guys who can capitalize on the title."

The US Pro Criterium Championship has a long history of bolstering the peloton with international riders and teams. It is recognized as a dual event allowing foreign riders to participate alongside the Americans whereby the first American rider to cross the line will win the prestigious stars and stripes jersey of national champion.

Last year, Kersten won the bunch sprint to take the race victory ahead of American John Murphy (BMC Racing) who claimed the US title. Murphy is currently racing at the Tour de l'Ain in France and will not be competing in the championship event.

"We had a hard decision deciding whether or not to send a team based on the fact that it wasn't an American team and the race is the US National Championships," Beamon said. "My feeling is that as a championship and a big criterium, maybe even the best, then the best criterium riders in the world need to be there. It has always added luster to the race to have an international field because you get those crit riders, who may or may not be American, bringing the level of the racing up.

"Having guys there like the Borrajo brothers [Alejandro and Anibal], the Clarke brothers [Hilton and Jonny], the [Karl] Menzies, the [Jonathan] Cantwells, the [Ben] Kerstens and the [David] Veilleuxs, having those guys there makes it that much more of an accomplishment to do well at the finish whether you are the first rider to cross the line or the first American. The quality of the race is that much higher with an international field."

Fly V Australia will send a powerful criterium team in defense of Kersten's winning performance last year. The support crew will be lead by Jonathan Cantwell who has recently won seven consecutive races from a bunch sprint including the Tour of Elk Grove overall title. Also joining the team are Alessandro Bazzana, Hayden Brooks, David Kemp and the squad's newest American recruit, Zachary Davies.

"We just added a guy Zachary Davies to our roster," Beamon said. "He's out of Boulder and rode for an amateur team at Superweek a few weeks ago. He was very consistent, even without support, and was on the podium a couple of times there."