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Richest one-day US criterium offers $100,000 total payout on October 30

USA Pro Road Championships 2021 men's criterium
USA Pro Road Championships 2021 men's criterium (Image credit: Patrick Daly)

 Justin Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) has set into motion a criterium event on October 30 that would tender a whopping $100,000 prize purse for a total of 140 minutes of racing on October 30. Split evenly between two 70-minute pro events, one for women and one for men, Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM will be held in Sacramento, California and will set a new benchmark as the richest criterium in US history, according to organisers.

“My vision has always been to make the sport of cycling great for everyone,” said Justin Williams, who along with his brother Corey founded the UCI Continental team, L39ION of Los Angeles, last December. 

“Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM will have something for everyone, from fast racing to fun family activities. Ride your bikes, wear costumes and enjoy the community Halloween event. Get hooked on criterium racing during the open races, and then watch current and former National Champions go full-gas in the pro crits.” 

Races will take place on a one-kilometre circuit around the California Capitol grounds, with the Start/Finish line located on 11th Street and N Street. Each pro race will offer $10,000 in primes and $40,000 in prize money, paid to the top 10 riders in each field. An Amateur Open will be held earlier in the afternoon, with prizes rather than cash. 

With Halloween celebrated the same weekend across the US, organisers will hold a community event with a costume contest in conjunction with the races. A full day of activities is supported by the Visit Sacramento Sports Commission and SRAM.

Earlier this year, the Grant Park Criterium in Atlanta, part of the USA CRITS Speed Week, set the mark for the richest pro women’s criterium with a $20,000 prize purse. Olivia Ray (Rally Cycling) scored the victory and took home the top individual check for $4,000. Skylar Schneider (L39ION of Los Angeles) claimed a $3,000 second-place check. The men’s race, won by Tyler Williams (L39ION of Los Angeles) divvied up $5,000.

A full roster of riders from L39ION of Los Angeles is expected to compete at Into the Lion’s Den. The team has dominated criterium racing across much of the US this year, and taken overall titles at the only major UCI stage race in the country this year, Joe Martin Stage Race.

Tyler Williams, the men's Joe Martin champion, is currently in second place overall and second in the total lap category for men in the USA CRITS 10-race series. Schneider, the women's Joe Martin champion, is the lap leader for women. The final race in the series will be on September 24 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

Additional details on participants and payout details will be announced in October by organisers.

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Jackie Tyson

Jackie has been involved in professional sports for more than 30 years in news reporting, sports marketing and public relations. She founded Peloton Sports in 1998, a sports marketing and public relations agency, which managed projects for Tour de Georgia, Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and USA Cycling. She also founded Bike Alpharetta Inc, a Georgia non-profit to promote safe cycling for people of all abilities and ages. Tyson has been recognized for communications excellence with 10 Phoenix Awards, presented by the Georgia Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America. She is proud to have worked in professional baseball for six years - from selling advertising to pulling the tarp - and was recognized by a national media outlet as the first female depicted in a pro baseball card set (Ft. Myers Royals). She has climbed l'Alpe d'Huez three times. Her favorite road rides are around horse farms in north Georgia (USA) and around lavender fields in  Provence (France). Her favorite mountain bike rides are in Park City, Utah (USA).