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Air Force Cycling Classic attracts international talent

United HealthCare set up their train during the final lap.

United HealthCare set up their train during the final lap. (Image credit: Todd Leister)

The nations top sprinters will convene for a weekend of National Racing Calendar (NRC) criterium racing at the Air Force Cycling Classic's Clarendon Cup and Crystal City Classic in Virgina, June 11-12.

UnitedHealthcare returns with its defending champions Hilton Clarke, who won the Clarendon Cup, and Jake Keough, who won Crystal City Classic.

"The goal for this weekend is obviously to have a repeat of last year," Keough told Cyclingnews. "We are bringing our top sprinting squad to the race with many of the same riders as last year and a few fast additions, including Boy Van Poppel and Robert Förster."

"The depth of the field is certainly on our minds for this year's event, however, as we have showed all season, and punctuated Sunday at Philly, the depth of our sprint squad is much deeper than it has ever been, meaning that not only are we fast in the finish but the whole team is strong and solid all race."

UnitedHealthcare's series of sprinters will be up against the nation's other UCI Professional Continental team Team Type 1-Sanofi-Aventis sprinter Aldo Ino IIesic and Jure Kocjan. Other notable sprinters include US Pro Criterium Champion Daniel Holloway (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth), Kyle Wamsley (Bissell), (Jamis-Sutter Home), Adrea Diaz (Team Exergy) and Raymond Kreder (Chipotle Development).

This year there will also be four international teams participating in the two criteriums, including the Danish National Team, Swedish National Team, Italy's Amore & Vita and New Zealand's Pure Black Racing, which has already had strong performances in the US during the early season.

On the women's side, 2010 Clarendon Cup winner Brooke Miller has since retired from professional bike racing and will not be in attendance, however, Crystal City Classic winner Robin Farina will no doubt want to stand on the top step of the podium once again.

The women's field will be highlighted by the Colavita Forno D'Asolo team, but it will not field its UCI World Champion Giorgia Bronzini, who recently won the UCI 1.1 Liberty Classic in Philadelphia last weekend. However, they will field a strong team that includes Cath Cheatley.

"I am looking forward to bringing a strong squad to the Airforce Classic, whilst we don't have the team's most well known sprinters with Theresa Cliff-Ryan and Giorgia Bronzini not lining up for this one, we still have many cards to play," said Colavita Forno D'Asolo DS Rachel Heal.

"Leah Kirchmann, Lauren Hall and Kelly Benjamin are all strong sprinters in their own right, and plenty of options for breakaways with riders such as Cath Cheatley and Kristin Sanders, who proved her strength winning the recent Wilmington Cup with a late race solo breakaway. The courses for both days look challenging and technical and we are looking forward to some hard aggressive racing and are keen to continue the team's recent winning streak."

The Clarendon Cup is in its 14th edition and well known for its blazing fast one kilometre, figure-8 circuit. The men will complete 100 laps for a total of 100km and the women will complete 50 laps for a total of 50km.

The Crystal City Classic joined the weekend's racing four years ago and boasts a two-kilometre course where the men will compete for 90 minutes and the women will race for 60 minutes.

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