Speed Week, April 29th through May 8th
USA CRITS Speed Week is a series of seven criterium races over nine days across three southern states – starting with the Terrapin Twilight in Athens, Georgia and ending in the North Atlanta suburb of Sandy Springs. Speed Week features the best criterium cyclists in the world racing the downtown streets of seven cities, transforming these areas into international cycling competition arenas. As winners of both the individual and team competitions in past editions of Speed Week this was definitely going to be a team goal and a priority. Coming off a lot of early season successes the team was motivated, very confident, and felt that we had come together as unit enough to deliver a big result.
The team did ride great through the entire week getting some good results against a class field. In the end Luke finished in 10th place overall and the team was 3rd. Because the series was on the National Racing Calendar event list meant that the field at this year’s event may have been the best ever. Our results against this elite field were respectable, but surely not entirely what we were striving for. Sometimes we have to remember that big events like this are part of the learning and development curve for our riders. We realized that in bigger races we are still bonding and learning our individuals roles, strengths, and weaknesses. The lessons learned this week will surely lead to more opportunities on bigger stages later this year.
Terrapin Twilight Grid Qualifiers
The week started off really well with Ben making the elite 8 and the final heat of the highly-competitive Grid Qualifiers. The Grid Qualifier are races are staged on Computrainers that simulate doing 6 laps of the actual Twilight course. The team was proud to have 3 team alumni and Ben in the final heat.
Congrats to TMK-alum Joey Rosskopf (TT1 Development, 3rd from left) for taking the win! He averaged 467 watts for 7 min, 27 sec. Dan Ramsey (Full Circle Cycling, 5th from left) finished in 4th place, Oscar Clark (RealCyclist.com, 7th from left) took 6th, and Ben Zawacki (far right) finished 8th.
Link to video from the final heat: https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=551175638099
Luke Keough was the team’s top finisher field-sprinting to 10th place after a hard-fought and exciting Terrapin Twilight Criterium in Athens, GA. Fortunately all of our riders stayed upright throughout the crash-filled race.
As always, spectators came out in droves to watch the high-speed and charged race. Luke had an impressive ride, holding position near the front of the race for all 80 laps while other team members cycled through, repeatedly caught behind crashes or fading back to recover after riding aggressively at the front. After an early break of 4 rode ahead and quickly lapped the completely strung-out field, Luke joined a second break of about a dozen riders that gained about 30 seconds on the field but was ultimately reeled-in with about 15 laps to-go. Luke deftly fought for position and held his spot throughout the chaotic final laps.
1. Luca DAMIANI, Kenda/5-Hour Energy
2. Boy VANPOPPEL, UnitedHealthcare
3. Christian HELMIG, ELBOWZ RACING
4. Andrew DAHLHEIM, BISSELL
5. Karl MENZIES, UnitedHealthcare
6. Ricky ESCUELA, Full Circle Sports
7. Jacob KEOUGH, UnitedHealthcare
8. Carlos ALZATE, Team Exergy
9. Eric BARLEVAV, Team Exergy
10.Luke KEOUGH, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
Historic Roswell Criterium
The previous night at the Twilight was a real indication for the guys that the field here was as hungry and motivated for results as they were. To get them they were going to have to work hard and that was the plan. Several big crashes throughout the day's racing made it difficult for any one team to assert too much authority over the field on the 1 mile, 5 turn course. Particularly at one point in the race where a key (most likely race winning) break, with Adam and Jerome, formed and then suddenly the entire field was forced to a complete stop after a wreck on the backside took down most of the field. Until that point the field had largely taken turns soaking up lap primes since most efforts at a breakaway had proven futile.
The race-restart prompted even more urgency amongst the riders and because of that no one was allowed any advantage and a field sprint was destined. Luke once again found the back of the United Healthcare leadout train and rode in for an impressive 7th place. Notably his brother claimed the victory. Another crash in the last lap held up the other TMK riders, but thankfully none of the riders were hurt.
1. Jake Keough, Unitedhealthcare
2. Hilton Clarke, Unitedhealthcare
3. Carlos Alzate Escobar, Team Exergy
4. Eric Barlevav, Team Exergy
5. Paddy Bevin, Bissell
6. Luca Damiani, Kenda/5 Hour Energy
7. Luke Keough, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
8. Karl Menzies, Unitedhealthcare
9. Andrew Dahlheim, Bissell
10. Freddie Rodriguez, Team Specialized
Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic
After a well deserved rest day the team came out prepared and ready to really work hard. Unfortunately the plan was to sit in for the early part of the race and cover the late attacks. Lesson learned! The outcome of the men's race was decided almost in the first 15 minutes of the event as a group of key riders quickly laid down a blistering pace of 1:15 per lap. Once the field was all strung out behind them, a group of 11 men were able to force a clear separation from the rest of the riders, and that move would ultimately seal the fate of the race. By lap 26 of the 75 scheduled turns around the 1 km course, the escapees had lapped the field. Frustrated at having missed the move Adam, Ben, and Thomas went on the offensive and went clear in a group of 6. With very little chance of survival they valiantly remained clear of the charging field for 30 laps when they were reeled in with 5 to go.
Luke once again found the main sprinters leadout and got 2nd in the field sprint. With 11 riders already a lap up, it was good enough for 13th.
12 Jacob KEOUGH, UnitedHealthcare
13 Luke KEOUGH, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
Downtown Walterboro Criterium
The guys had started to figure out that Luke was proving himself to be a threat in the field sprints and the team needed to focus on getting him into proper position and going for the podium. The team plan was just that and it helped that United Healthcare had the same plan and prevented any real breakaways from establishing. Coming into the last lap the team had Luke onto the UHC leadout train and a high placing looked to be just 2 turns away. However Luke was crashed from behind as riders swarmed the last corner. Thankfully once again no one was seriously hurt.
Despite crashing Luke remained in 7th overall and 2nd in the Best Young Rider competition. With another 3 riders finishing in the top 20, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop moved up to 3rd in the team competition.
17 Neil BEZDEK, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
18 Thomas BROWN, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
19 Emile ABRAHAM, Aerocat cycling team
20 Jerome TOWNSEND, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
1. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, 3228 pts
2. Chipotle Development Team, 2209
3. Team Mountain Khakis, 2153
Spartanburg Regional Classic
With the plan the day before being ruined by a last lap crash, there was no reason not to try again. Mission, get Luke onto the UnitedHealthcare leadout in the last lap. After series of attacks after the mid-race prime failed to materialize, the team lined up behind Adam in anticipation of a sprint finish. Adam and the guys rode ahead with Luke on their wheel all the way until the final lap where he latched onto the UHC leadout. Ben also held on for another top-20 finish.
Link to video of finish: https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=551536220489
1 to go as a packed downtown Spartanburg erupts.
1. Jacob Keough, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling p/b Maxxis
2. Ricky Escuela, Full Circle Sports
3. Hilton Clarke, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling p/b Maxxis
4. Karl Menzies, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling p/b Maxxis
5. Luke Keough, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop
The hilly course around Latta Park in Charlotte, NC had the team on the ropes. The first signs of fatigue due to the weeklong of racing began to show. Missing a key move late in the race the team was once again put into position to set Luke up for a sprint. Luke once again put his field-sprinting skills to use and finished 12th, taking 7th in the long, uphill sprint behind a 5-man breakaway. Luke has moved up to 10th overall, and the team remained 3rd in the team competition.
Critical debrief after the race. A move we wish we had covered. Learning is a process!
1. TRAVIESO, Frank - Realcyclist.com Pro Cycling Team
2. KREDER, Raymond - Chipotle Development Team
3. HELMIG, Christian - Elbowz Racing
4. VANPOPPEL, Boy - UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis
5. ORONTE, Emerson - Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Kenda
6. KEOUGH, Jacob - UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis
7. CLARKE, Hilton - UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis
8. ESCUELA, Ricky - Full Circle Sports
9. ALZATE ESCOBAR, Carlos - Team Exergy
10. DAMIANI, Luca - Kenda/5-Hour Energy Pro Cycling
11. DAHLHEIM, Andrew - Bissell Pro Cycling
12. KEOUGH, Luke - Team Mountain Khakis p/b Smart
Global Imports Sandy Springs Cycling Challenge
Unfortunately the drive from Charlotte to Atlanta did not help to rejuvenate the guy’s tired legs. With the top 4 riders vying for the overall title being separated by less than 30 points overall the race started very aggressively and was really fast. A group of 15 quickly formed and went clear. 5 UnitedHealthCare riders drove the break to secure Jake Keough’s overall victory and quickly lapped the field. The guys did garner enough points to maintain Luke’s 10th overall and secure 3rd in the team standings.
Complete standing and results from Speed Week can be found here: http://usacrits.com/speedweek/?page_id=2
2011 USA CRITS Speedweek Standings (FINAL)
1. Jake Keough, UnitedHealthCare - 1621 pts
2. Hilton Clarke, UnitedHealthCare - 1601 pts
3. Carlos Alzate, Team Exergy - 1597 pts
4. Luca Damiani, Kenda/5-Hour Energy - 1505 pts
5. Karl Menzies, UnitedHealthCare - 1452 pts
6. Andrew Dahlheim, Bissell - 1438 pts
7. Christian Helmig, Elbowz Racing - 1390 pts
8. Raymond Kreder, Chipolte Devo Team - 1293 pts
9. Ricky Escuela, Full Circle - 1237 pts
10. Luke Keough, Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop - 1196 pts
Men's Overall Team
1. UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling presented by Maxxis - 5760 pts
2. Team Exergy - 4013 pts
3. Team Mountain Khakis p/b SmartStop - 3806 pts
4. ELBOWZ Racing - 3598 pts
5. Chipolte Development Team - 3557 pts
The next two weekends bring another two rounds of the prestigious USA Cycling National Racing Calendar. On Wednesday the guys begin their trek to St. Louis for 3 days of racing at the Tour de Grove. One of St. Louis’ fastest growing neighborhoods, the Grove, will be featuring three competitive cycling events, a 5k run, family events, races for kids, a national cycling poster art show, and outdoor activities all day Saturday and into the evening. New for this year, the Tour de Grove is also part of the USA Crits Series- joining the best criterium races in the United States.
Tour de Grove, St. Louis, MO - May 14th: http://www.tourdegrove.com/
Wilmington Grand Prix, Wilmington, DE - May 20th - 22nd: http://www.wilmgrandprix.com/