Clarke wins Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team’s Hilton Clarke and Jake Keough captured 1st and 3rd place respectively in the 9th Annual Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, in Charlotte, North Carolina. Team Jamis Sutter Home’s Alejandro Borrajo split the two UnitedHealthcare sprinters to finish second. Keough had crossed the line in second but was relegated to third for irregular sprinting. Clarke’s win was his second of the season and the victory allows him to remain atop the National Criterium Calendar’s (NCC) individual standings.

With the light fading in downtown Charlotte, the elite men’s race was ready to roll in the Presbyterian Hospital Invitation Criterium. The 134 riders faced 40 laps of the 1.3 mile barbell shaped course.

With just one lap completed Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home) was already off the front with the purpose of lining his pockets with prime money. Finally, after a couple of solo laps, the prime bell rang for $500.

Wamsley was able to hold on for the prime, and he continued to roll in search of more prime money.

Back in the peloton the blue kits of UnitedHealthcare were at the front keeping the gap between Wamsley and two bridging riders in check.

Wamsley started to realize he was fighting a losing battle and sat up letting Jared Barrilleaux (Cal Giant/Specialized) and Heath Blackgrove (Elbowz racing) join him. Realistically they knew there was no chance of staying away for the remaining 32 laps, but with the frequent primes being announced they could at least make this a profitable evening.

UnitedHealthcare had enough of the trio’s lead, so last year’s winner Jake Keough went to the front and started to bring it back to a more manageable gap.

A $250 prime once again ignited the peloton and the entire group was head to tail as they screamed down North Tryon Street. With 30 laps remaining the local heroes were at the back, desperately trying to remain in the draft of the big teams.

While the trio gobbled up cash primes the chasing peloton continued to gain stream and take back a handful of seconds each lap.

With 28 laps remaining the three riders had a 33 second lead and once again the bell rung again – $500.

At the front UnitedHealthcare and Bissell were stringing the group out. Gaps were starting to form with in the peloton as the horsepower was tearing it apart. As a result, the breakaway lost five seconds with 25 laps remaining.

With 23 laps remaining the $500 cash prime reinvigorated the break and grew their lead to 45 seconds.

At the midway point the trio’s lead had been reduced to 30 seconds due to the efforts of Team Exergy and the UnitedHealthcare squad. However, the night’s biggest dollar prime was just a lap away – $1,000.

With the big dollar prime lurking on the horizon the peloton continued to gobble up the gap between themselves and the three riders off the front.

As the three riders rolled through the start line the thousand dollar prime was announced. Would they continue to work together or would the back stabbing begin?

Continuing to work together, Wamsley rolled across the line for the prime – they still appeared to be committed to staying away for the remaining 16 laps of the race. However, the gap was continuing to shrink – smart money was they would be caught before the race entered single digit laps.

With 14 laps to go the gap had dropped to 23 seconds with UnitedHeathcare driving the front of the peloton. The boys in blue were just letting the trio dangle off the front, discouraging a counter attack and allowing them to set up their sprinters Jake Keough or Hilton Clarke for the win.

As expected, with 12 laps remaining the three riders only had a handful of seconds separating them from the UnitedHealthcare led peloton. However, with a capture close, UnitedHealthcare look their foot off the gas pedal and let the gap grow a few more seconds.

With 11 laps remaining Barrilleaux was popped from the break and it was now just Wamsley and Blackgrove off the front. The peloton must have sensed the slow death of the break and accelerated.

UnitedHealthcare continued to control the front but seemed to be toying with the now two riders off the front. With a $500 prime grabbed by the duo and nine laps remaining it was time for a team to reel them back. All five UnitedHealthcare riders were at the front with Keough surfing fourth wheel. It seemed like he, who has returned to the States after a European campaign, was their go to guy for the field sprint.

For the final prime of the night, worth $500, Blackgrove surged ahead to take the cash. However, right on his rear wheel was the UnitedHealthcare squad. It was soon to be game over for the brave New Zealander.

With three to go Blackgrove was caught and UnitedHealthcare were in charge.

Someone didn’t tell Blackgrove as he attacked again with two other riders. It was more a show of defiance as they were quickly caught. But with two laps remaining Ben Zawacki (Team Mountain Khakis presented by Smart Stop) attacked. It was just a short lived stab at glory as at the 1.5 laps to go he was already caught.

On the bell lap UnitedHealthcare took their position at the front with Karl Menzies taking a huge pull with riders peeling off as the speed increased. Clarke seemed to be in the sweet spot of the train waiting for the final stretch.

Around the final corner Menzies completed his final pull and out of the shadows three riders had separated themselves. Crossing the line first was Clarke, followed by teammate Keough and Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) in third. However, Keough was relegated a position for not holding his line in the closing meters and moved to third, elevating Borrajo to second place.

“All five of us were riding,” said Clarke of the last laps of the race. “We brought it back to ten seconds gap and decided to leave it right there because we knew we could reel it back in. But I can tell you it was all hands on deck.”

“Watching from the sidelines it might have looked easy, but it was one of the toughest ones we’ve done.”

Immediately following the race the Charlotte squad was flying to New York for compete in the Battenkill road race.

Full Results

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#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare)1:52:07
2Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter Home)0:00:01
3Jake Keough (UnitedHealthcare)Row 2 - Cell 2
4Issac Howe (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)Row 3 - Cell 2
5Carlos Alzate (Team Exergy)0:00:02
6Robin Carpenter (Chipotle First Solar Development)0:00:03
7Oscar Clark (Team United Healthcare GA/706)0:00:04
8Tommy Nankervis (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)Row 7 - Cell 2
9Daniel Holt (Team Type 1 Development)0:00:05
10Frank Travieso (Team Coco's)Row 9 - Cell 2
11Colin Jaskiewicz (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)Row 10 - Cell 2
12Scottie Weiss (VeloShine Cycling Team)Row 11 - Cell 2
13Thomas Brown (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)Row 12 - Cell 2
14Chris Stazny (California giant/specialized)Row 13 - Cell 2
15Chad Hartley (Kenda/5hr Energy p/b Geargrinder)Row 14 - Cell 2
16Alexey Shmidt (Team Type 1 Development)0:00:06
17Jean-Michel Lechance (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)0:00:07
18Jackie Simes (Jamis/Sutter Home)Row 17 - Cell 2
19Clay Murfet (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)Row 18 - Cell 2
20Kevin Mullervy (Team Exergy)0:00:08
21Joseph Schmalz (ELBOWZ Racing)Row 20 - Cell 2
22Gavriel Epstein (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)Row 21 - Cell 2
23Heath Blackgrove (ELBOWZ Racing)0:00:09
24David Williams (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)Row 23 - Cell 2
25Guido Palma (Jamis/Sutter Home)0:00:10
26Rafael Meran (CRCA/Foundation)0:00:11
27Chris Harkey (VeloShine Cycling Team)Row 26 - Cell 2
28David Cueli (Team Coco's)0:00:12
29John Eisinger (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)0:00:14
30Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare)0:00:15
31Andrew Crater (Cleveland Clinic Sports Health)0:00:21
32Ivan Dominguez (Team Franco Bicycles)0:00:22
33Ian Burnett (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)0:00:27
34Conor Mullervy (Team Exergy)0:00:45
35Benjamin Swedberg (California giant/specialized)0:00:52
36Shane Kline (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)0:01:00
37Ben Chaddock (Team Exergy)0:05:30
38Mat Stephens (ELBOWZ Racing)Row 37 - Cell 2
39Clayton Barrows (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)Row 38 - Cell 2
40Brian Arne (Low Country Racing p/b Champion)0:05:31
41Sean Sullivan (ELBOWZ Racing)Row 40 - Cell 2
42Emile Abraham (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)Row 41 - Cell 2
43Chad Burdzilauskus (Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team)Row 42 - Cell 2
44Jay Thomson (UnitedHealthcare)Row 43 - Cell 2
45Benjamin Zawacki (Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop)Row 44 - Cell 2
46Euris Vidal (CRCA/Foundation)Row 45 - Cell 2
47Ricky Gargiulo (Champion System p/b Stan's NoTubes)Row 46 - Cell 2
48Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home)Row 47 - Cell 2
49Jim Baldesare (Cleveland Clinic Sports Health/)Row 48 - Cell 2
50Leonardo Martinez (Team Cocos)Row 49 - Cell 2
51Jared Barrilleaux (California Giant/Specialized)Row 50 - Cell 2
52Jose Frank Rodriguez (Team Cocos)Row 51 - Cell 2
53Brett Kielick (160over90 p.b Vie 13/QCW)Row 52 - Cell 2
54Julian Cabra (Team Metro Reprographics p/b De)Row 53 - Cell 2
55John Delong (VeloShine Cycling Team)Row 54 - Cell 2
56Gabe Lloyd (XO RACING p/b Cisco Systems)Row 55 - Cell 2
57Chris Blake (Happy Tooth Racing)Row 56 - Cell 2
58Matthew Howe (Happy Tooth Racing)Row 57 - Cell 2
59Scott Edge (Team Athletix benefiting Global)Row 58 - Cell 2
60Erik Broo (Happy Tooth Racing)Row 59 - Cell 2
61Nicholas Rogers (160over90 p.b Vie 13/QCW)Row 60 - Cell 2
62Eric Losak (Team Clif Bar)Row 61 - Cell 2
63Justin Lowe (Team Athletix benefiting Global)Row 62 - Cell 2
64Thomas Rabou (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)Row 63 - Cell 2
65Ryan Mele (Stan's NoTubes/AXA Equitable)Row 64 - Cell 2
66Rand Miller (California Giant/Specialized)Row 65 - Cell 2
67Nathaniel Ward (Embrocation Cycling Journal)Row 66 - Cell 2
68Evan Fader (Earthfare/i9 pb Cyclesport Concepts)Row 67 - Cell 2
69Samuel Gevan (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)Row 68 - Cell 2
70Emilio Daniel Asconeguy (Rossetti Devo Cycling Team)Row 69 - Cell 2
71John Loehner (Stan's NoTubes / AXA Equitable)Row 70 - Cell 2
72David Lozano (Team Type 1 Development)Row 71 - Cell 2
73Chris Ernst (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)Row 72 - Cell 2
74Nathan Smith (Low Country Racing p/b Champion Systems)Row 73 - Cell 2
75Branden Russell (Team Type 1 Development)Row 74 - Cell 2
76Marc Williams (Team Athletix Benefitting Globalbike)Row 75 - Cell 2
77Alejandro Guzman (CRCA/Foundation)Row 76 - Cell 2
78John Bergmann (Team Clif Bar)Row 77 - Cell 2
79Johnny Mitchell (Team Metro Reprographics p/b DeMaine Chiropractic)Row 78 - Cell 2
80Cody Johnson (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)Row 79 - Cell 2
81Stradford Helms (Team Type 1 Development)Row 80 - Cell 2
82Phil Grenfell (Competitive Cyclist Racing Team)Row 81 - Cell 2
83Maxwell Robb (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)Row 82 - Cell 2
84Brendan Dillow (DIY Music p/b Chainheart Cycling Studio)Row 83 - Cell 2
85Damien Dunn (Cyclesport Concepts)Row 84 - Cell 2
86Todd GosselaarRow 85 - Cell 2

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