Canadian Martin Gilbert brought his Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast team its biggest win yet on Sunday by winning the USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship in Downers Grove, Illinois.
Kirk O’Bee (Health Net-Maxxis) finished second to collect the national-championship jersey as first American across the line. Teammate Shawn Milne took third.
As in the earlier races, rain was a factor — a light drizzle was the best the heavens had to offer during the 100km race, and crashes were commonplace.
The Kelly Benefit squad had hoped to put Dave McCook into the jersey, but he was having an off day and eventually abandoned. So with 12 laps to go, the first-year pro team directed by Jonas Carney took the front and cranked up the train.
As the pace grew more frenetic in the soggy conditions, Kayle Leogrande (Rock Racing), Tony Cruz (Discovery Channel) and Alex Candelario (Jelly Belly) all hit the tarmac with five laps to go. Amazingly, Candelario and Cruz both got back on their bikes to finish fourth and fifth, respectively.
Up front, the Kelly Benefit boys were lining it out — Dominique Perras, Johnny Sundt, Dan Bowman, Ryan Roth and finally Keven Lacombe, who took over with a lap and a half to go. Then, after drilling it into the final corner, Health Net’s Tasmanian Karl Menzies, trying to set up his American teammates O’Bee and Milne, eased up a notch — and another pileup ensued, with more than a dozen riders hitting the deck.
But by then, the race was already over. Gilbert took the win, and O’Bee took the jersey.
USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship
Downers Grove, Illinois
1. Martin Gilbert (Can), Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast
2. Kirk O’Bee, Health Net-Maxxis
3. Shawn Milne, Health Net-Maxxis
4. Alex Candelario, Jelly Belly
5. Tony Cruz, Discovery Channel