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NRC brawl ends at Chris Thater Memorial Criterium

Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci) launches an attack on the last climb.

Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci) launches an attack on the last climb. (Image credit: Jonathan Devich)

The National Racing Calendar (NRC) series will conclude at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium held on August 28-29 in Binghamton, New York. Luis Amaran (Jamis-Sutter Home p/b Colavita) and Cath Cheatley (Colavita-Baci p/b Cookinglight) have unofficially sewn up their season titles, respectively, but the top three teams in each category are far from decided.

The 27th annual Chris Thater Memorial Criterium is held in memory of cyclist Chris Thater who was killed by a drunk driver. Its mission is to promote a STOP-DWI and healthy lifestyle message.

On Saturday, the Pro and Category 1-2 women will contest a 56km criterium in the late afternoon. Last year's race was won by former US Criterium Champion Brooke Miller (Tibco-To the Top) who will return to defend her event title with teammates Joanne Kiesanowski, Kristen LaSasso, Meredith Miller, Samantha Schnieder and Megan Gaurnier.

On Sunday, the Pro and Category 1 men's event will conclude the Chris Thater Memorial with an 80 km criterium. Last year's race was on by Keven Lacombe (SpiderTech p/b Planet Energy). Although Lacombe will not be racing his teammate Ryan Roth will represent the team.

The NRC's last hurrah

The NRC series held 21 rounds that began at the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California and will end at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium.

Cheatley took her top spot in the NRC standings following the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic and currently leads the individual classification by 216 points ahead of last year's winner Alison Powers (Vera Bradley Foundation) and by an additional 95 points to US National Road Champion, Mara Abbott (Peanut Butter & Co TWENTY12).

"Surprisingly Cath is not that tired, she can just keep racing," said Colavita-Baci directeur Tina Pic. "The funny thing about the NRC is that we started out thinking that it's not that big of a deal, but then at the end of the season it always becomes so important. Our goal going in was to just race hard, fast and well. It's a good competition between the teams."

Cheatley's Colavita-Baci team is leading the overall team classification by 234 points ahead of (Tibco-To the Top) and an additional two points to the third placed team Vera Bradley Foundation.

The Colavita-Baci team will field Rushlee Buchanan, Andrea Dvorak, Kristin Sanders and Modesta Vzesniauskaite. Other strong contenders include Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12), Nicole Freedman (Wheelworks Racing), Janel Holcomb (BMW Bianchi), Laura McCaughey and Anna McLoon (Kenda).

"It always comes down to the top five riders," said Pic. "We really have to have Cath, Rushlee and Modesta racing pretty well there. It is going to be tough because Tibco has the power in numbers. They always seems to come ready for a fight in this race. I think it is going to be a really good race and hopefully we can hold onto the team lead."

In addition to the NRC, the criterium marks the penultimate round of the USA Crits Series. Erica Allar (Vera Bradley Foundation) leads that series ahead of Tiffany Pezzulo ( in second and Kacey Manderfield (Cycle Loft) in third.

On the men's side, Amaran moved into the series lead following the Nature Valley Grand Prix and currently has 334 points more than runner-up Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) and it's an additional 62 points to David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies).

Amaran will not be participating in the weekend's criterium after having locked up his individual lead after the Tour of Utah last week. His only teammate registered to compete in the criterium is Ignacio Pereyra. "Luis will not be there," said Jamis-Sutter Home directeur sportif, Sebastian Alexandre. "The guys are tired."

Fly V Australia is leading the overall team classification by a mere 63 points ahead of defending champions Jamis-Sutter Home. UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis sits in third place an further 86 points back.

Fly V Australia is showing how serious it was about winning the NRC team title by fielding a full roster of sprinters that includes Ben Kersten, Bernie Sulzberger, Charles Dionne, Aaron Kemp, Hayden Brooks, Jonathan Cantwell and Alessandro Bazzana.

Unitedhealthcare p/b Maxxis is also sending a full squad that includes its sprinters, Hilton Clarke, Jonny Clarke, Karl Menzies, Jake Keough, Tim Johnson and Eric Barlevav.

"This is usually a very fast race," said UnitedHealthcare directuer sportif Mike Tamayo in a team press release. "We want to do our part to animate it. If we can get a break off with the right mix then we'll work with that. But if it comes down to a bunch sprint, we like our chances with our three guys who have been successful in criteriums all season.

"It's the last NRC race of the season, so everyone will be looking to finish off the season well," he added. "We know it will be an aggressive race."

Clayton Barrows (AXA Equitable Cycling) leads the USA Crits Series ahead of a handful of Mountain Khakis p/b Jittery Joes riders Issac Howe, Mark Hekman, Neil Bezdek and David Guttenplant.

The USA Crits Series will conclude at the TX Tough Grand Prix in on September 16 in Dallas, Texas.

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