Clarke, Keough clean up in Charlotte

UnitedHealthcare continued its domination of the USA Crits and National Criterium Calendar, making it a one-two finish for Hilton Clarke and Luke Keough in downtown Charlotte.

In the opening laps Michael Weicht (CashCall Mortgage) went on the attack and grabbed up several primes for a total of $1,500 in cash as well as points towards the USA Crits series. However, his several laps of freedom were erased by the accelerating peloton.

As the laps ticked down, racers would sprint to take the many primes on offer – but the attacks were not enough to separate themselves from the peloton.

Finally a break of 11 riders did manage to create the tiniest of time gaps for the next prime. Winning the $250 prime was again CashCall's Weicht who was a member of the opportunistic 11-man break.

The mid-race points prime was the catalyst of the night's first serious break as 16 riders went up the road. All the major teams were represented, and the gap grew continually from 18 to 40 seconds.

Behind them the main peloton was spread out with no organized chase.

Finally, the yellow and blue kits of SmartStop-Mountain Khaki went to the front of the peloton and started to cut into the breakaway's time gap. With 13 laps remaining the gap had been reduced to 18 seconds.

With 10 laps to go a $500 prime was offered and the time gap between the two groups had stabilized at 18 seconds.

With eight laps to go the gap was coming down under the constant pressure of the SmartStop - Mountain Khakis squad. Joe Lewis (Hincapie Development) attacked out of the break in the hopes of sneaking away.

Lewis scraped together a 20-second lead as his former breakaway companions were about to be caught. At six laps remaining a thousand dollar prime was announced and Lewis still maintained an advantage as the big teams started to organize their sprint trains. It seemed like only a matter of time before Lewis was caught. However, it wasn't before he picked up the thousand dollars.

With five laps to go the blue lead-out train of the UnitedHealthcare squad went to the front for their sprinter Hilton Clarke. UnitedHealthcare team was just letting Lewis dangle a few seconds off the front in order to discourage any counter-attacks.

With two laps remaining Lewis was caught. At the front of the peloton the UnitedHealthcare squad was in full control of the race with their sprint train.

On the bell lap what remained of the field was strung out in a single file, scrambling to get on the wheel of the blue train of UnitedHealthcare.

Out of the final turn it was all blue kits as Clarke was unleashed sprinting for the win with his teammate Luke Keough finishing in second and Demis Aleman (Jamis - Hagens Berman) in third.

While Lewis looked like he had an outside chance of stealing the win Clarke had faith in his squad.

“As soon as the boys got together, we drilled it and at five to go, led the race,” said Clarke of the team's strategy.

UnitedHealthcare team manager Mike Tamayo was equally happy with his squad's performance.

“Hilton is sprinting really well right now and the boys have learned how to deliver him perfectly. Another beautiful race and a great win.”

The next race in the USA Crit series is the Terrapin Twilight criterium in Athens, Georgia.

Full results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Hilton Clarke (United HealthCare Pro Cycling)1:51:35
2Luke Keough (United HealthCare Pro Cycling)Row 1 - Cell 2
3Demis Aleman (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Sergio Hernandez (Predator Cycling Carbon Repair)0:00:01
5Ruben Companioni (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)Row 4 - Cell 2
6Adam Leibovitz (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)Row 5 - Cell 2
7Carlos Alzate (United HealthCare Pro Cycling)Row 6 - Cell 2
8Andrew Dahlheim (BISSELL Pro Cycling)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Cole House (CashCall Mortgage)0:00:02
10Daniel Holt (United Healthcare GA p/b The 70)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Oscar Clark (Hincapie Sportswear Development)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Isaac Howe (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)0:00:03
13Michael Weicht (CashCall Mortgage)Row 12 - Cell 2
14Alder Martz (Hincapie Sportswear Development)0:00:05
15Ben Zawacki (Hincapie Sportswear Development)Row 14 - Cell 2
16David Santos (CashCall Mortgage)0:00:06
17Jean Michel LeChance (Predator Cycling Carbon Repair)Row 16 - Cell 2
18Gavriel Epstein (Champion System - Stan's No Tubes)0:00:08
19Emile Abraham (Predator Cycling Carbon Repair)0:00:13
20Kevin Mullervy (Champion System - Stan's No Tubes)0:00:14
21Shane Kline (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Karl Menzies (United Healthcare Pro Cycling)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Bobby Lea (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)0:00:16
24Shane Braley (Champion System - Stan's No Tubes)0:00:17
25Frank Pipp (BISSELL Pro Cycling)0:00:18
26Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Sportswear Development)Row 25 - Cell 2
27Mike Sherer (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)Row 26 - Cell 2
28Fabrizio Von Nacher (CashCall Mortgage)0:00:19
29Stephen Clancy (Team Novo Nordisk)0:00:20
30Allen Rego (Champion Systems - Stan's No Tubes)0:00:21
31Diego Garavito (Finish Strong Elite Cycling Team)0:00:23
32Ben Chaddock (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)Row 31 - Cell 2
33Blair Turner (Hincapie Sportswear Development)0:00:24
34Schmidt Alexey (United Healthcare GA p/b The 70)0:00:26
35Kyle Wamsley (Jamis Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)0:00:31
36Chris Baldwin (BISSELL Pro Cycling)Row 35 - Cell 2
37Rahsaan Bahati (sharecare p/b wheelandsprocket)0:00:33
38Tommy Nankervis (BISSELL Pro Cycling)0:00:36
39Neil Brezdek (CRCA/Foundation)0:00:55
40Chad Burdzilauskus (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)0:00:59
41Kevin Attkisson (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)Row 40 - Cell 2
42Frank Travieso (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)0:01:04
43Brad White (United HealthCare Pro Cycling)0:02:01
44John Murphy (United HealthCare Pro Cycling)0:02:04
45Joseph Lewis (Hincapie Sportswear Development)0:02:05
46Julian Cabra (Finish Strong Elite Cycling Team)0:08:54
47Chris Harkey (VeloShine Cycling Team)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Scarano Andy (United Healthcare GA p/b The 70)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Thomas Brown (Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Matthew Howe (Happy Tooth Racing)Row 49 - Cell 2
51Conor Mullervy (Champion System - Stan's No Tubes)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Joe Eldridge (Team Novo Nordisk)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Rob White (sharecare p/b wheelandsprocket.)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Marcos Mazzola Lazzarotto (INTEGRATED SPORTS MEDICINE)Row 53 - Cell 2
55Ryan Mele (Stan's NoTubes p/b Proferrin)Row 54 - Cell 2
56Brian Hill (Stan's NoTubes p/b Proferrin)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Isaiah Newkirk (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)Row 56 - Cell 2
58Ian Moir (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Ryan DeWald (Team Skyline)Row 58 - Cell 2
60Willy Zellmer (Gateway Harley-Davidson/Trek U23)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Andrew Strelkov (Team Novo Nordisk)Row 60 - Cell 2

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