Erica Clevenger (DNA Pro Cycling) won the opening night of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic for Division 1 women and Ama Nsek (L39ION of Los Angeles) took the victory on the men’s side to wrap up the 10-race USA CRITS series on Saturday.
The overall series titles were sewn up by Rachel Langdon (Instafund Racing) for the women and Thomas Gibbons (Automatic Cycling) for the men in North Carolina this weekend. The Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, which moved from an early summer slot in the calendar to the fall, offered several days of criterium racing, with the Saturday night contests serving as the USA CRITS Finals to decide overall winners in individual and team competitions.
With 12 laps to go in the Winston-Salem women’s contest, Clevenger accelerated to launch a solo effort that took her to her first win of the season. Her teammate, Maggie Coles-Lyster, won the field sprint for second place with Kaitlyn Agnew (ATX Wolfpack p/b Jakroo) in third.
Nsak was the only rider in the field for the L39ION of Los Angeles squad and the Canadian took care of business riding away from USA CRITS series leaders Thomas Gibbons (Automatic Cycling) and Michael Hernandez (Best Buddies Racing), second and third, respectively, to earn his fourth win in the series.
DNA Pro Cycling was one of the more dominant women’s teams for the season, taking the overall title as the top women’s team and Coles-Lyster winning the best young rider category.
"We came in looking for the win, this was our final big race of the year, so we didn't want to finish thinking we could have done more. We know we have a strong team, but we also know that we can't win unless we work together - so this is a team effort,” said Clevenger. “I was solo and digging hard to get out of sight around the next corner, but I had a lot of confidence because I knew that even if I blew up and was caught, Maggie was back there and could get the win. We ended up going 1-2, which is really the finish you talk about if everything goes perfectly."
Consistency was the name of the game in winning the USA CRITS titles. For Langdon, who had 21 top 10s across the US this season, including eight of the 10 USA CRITS events, and won the title without taking a race victory. It was the second overall title in the national series for Gibbons, who owns and operates the Automatic Cycling squad. He had four podiums in USA CRITS events, but no individual victories.
Crowned as Lap Leaders in the series were Julie Kuliecza (ATX Wolfpack p/b Jakroo) and Danny Summerhill (Best Buddies Racing). Joining Coles-Lyster (DNA Pro Cycling) as the best young rider was Hernandez on the men’s side. Best Buddies Racing was the best overall team for the men.
With most of the stage races and UCI one-day races cancelled across North America this year, many US domestic teams refocused on the full calendar of criteriums for offered by the USA CRITS series. The series began June 11 at Saint Francis Tulsa Tough, offering 10 races in nine cities across nine states. All races were streamed live at no cost to viewers.
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