Colavita/Forno D’Asolo sautés the women’s field with Holcomb getting the victory
Anniston, AL – The reign of Australian sprinters at the Sunny King Criterium continued Saturday night (April 9) when Jonathan Cantwell showed the field a clean pair of wheels and posted up in victory while crossing the finish line pointing to the V australia logo on his Australia National Champion’s jersey. A six-rider Colavita/Forno D’Asolo squad dominated the women’s pro race from start to finish with Janel Holcomb riding to a solo win. Over 5,000 spectators lined the .7-mile circuit on the streets of Anniston, Alabama while thousands of cycling fans all over the world watched the first criterium of USA Cycling’s 2011 National Racing Calendar (NRC), which streamed live online via four websites.
Australians swept the men’s podium at last year’s Sunny King Criterium with Cantwell’s teammate, Ben Kersten, dashing to victory. Kersten was back to defend his title, but it was Cantwell who proved the swiftest this year. The sixty-lap affair was held under the lights with a large field hoping to open their accounts in the NRC season series. No team was able to maintain control of the race and for the first time in the nine-year history of the Sunny King Criterium, no break could be firmly established although there were attempts by solo riders, pairs and even a dozen-rider formation. New Zealand’s Pure Black Racing contingent was clearly the most aggressive; they always had a man at or off the front animating the race. But nothing stuck.
Pure Black Racing and V australia amassed at the front with two laps to go in anticipation of the final sprint. Cantwell, who tested his legs by pocketing a pair of mid-race primes, jetted out of the peloton to score the win more than a bike length ahead of Pure Black Racing’s Michael Northey with sklz presented by Pista Palace’s Rahsaan Bahati claiming the final step of the podium.
With the sun shining brightly on a warm spring day when the women’s one-hour pro race started, Colavita/Forno D’Asolo’s Andrea Dvorak got things cooking from the gun. Dvorak took off and opened a gap that grew to a maximum advantage of twenty-five seconds near the midway point. Colavita/Forno D’Asolo, the 2010 NRC team champion that includes 2010 NRC individual champion Cath Cheatley, policed the front of the peloton fending off rival TIBCO/To The Top, which only started three riders. With about thirty-two minutes left to race, TIBCO/To The Top’s Meredith Miller initiated a valiant chase on a prime lap that successfully nailed back her prey: Dvorak. But Holcomb counterattacked immediately and she was not to be caught. Holcomb stretched her advantage to easily win the first NRC race of her career while the outnumbered TIBCO/To The Top trio seemed content to await the inevitable field sprint for second place, which was won by the team’s Samantha Schneider ahead of Colavita/Forno D’Asolo’s Kelly Benjamin. Colavita/Forno D’Asolo’s total dominance included winning all but one mid-race prime.
The entry fees from the Sunny King Criterium, which staged races for juniors, amateurs and elite professionals, will again be donated to Relay For Life, a local chapter of the American Cancer Society, to which the event has donated over $60,000 since 2005. In addition to being designated as an NRC event, the race is part of the WE Race Series, Alabama Cycling Association Points Series and The Lance Armstrong Junior Olympic Road Series. Additional information is available at www.sunnykingcriterium.com.
Men’s Pro/Category 1 results:
Jonathan Cantwell (AUS, V australia)
Michael Northey (NZL, Pure Black Racing)
Rahsaan Bahati (USA, sklz presented by Pista Palace)
Women’s Pro/Category 1 & 2 results:
Janel Holcomb (USA, Colavita/Forno D’Asolo)
Samantha Schneider (USA, TIBCO/To The Top)
Kelly Benjamin (USA, Colavita/Forno D’Asolo)