After missing the Athens Terrapin Twilight podium less than 24 hours earlier, Team Type 1 Ken Hanson capitalized on his improving form to take his first victory at the ninth annual Historic Roswell Criterium on Sunday.
Hanson got the best of both Andrew Penfold (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis), and Aaron Kemps in a nail-biting sprint after 90 minutes of high tempo racing. From the women’s field, Theresa Clif-Ryan (Colavita-Baci) got her second victory in as many days after getting the jump on Sarah Caravella (BMW-Bianchi) and 2006 winner Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom).
Normally the tranquil flip side of the more raucous event in Athens, good-sized primes, sunshine and points for the USA CRITS Speedweek competition kept the pace surprisingly high throughout the day’s racing. One of the most aggressive riders on course was AeroCat’s Andy Crater, who along with teammates Juan Pablo Dotti and Diego Garavito claimed a substantial amount of the prize money on offer. Breakaways, however, were far less abundant.
While the course benefited from the dry conditions, the windy weather didn’t promote too many separations from the main field until the 23rd lap of the 90-minute race. At that point Adam Myerson (Mountain Khakis), Diego Garavito (AeroCat), Evan Fader (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Benjamin Smith (Loco’s) and David Kemp (Fly V) had a go at a break, but it was shut down within a handful of laps.
Despite a big effort in Athens the night before Luca Damiani (Kenda-GEARGRINDER) was fresh enough to try his hand at a move with six laps remaining in the race but couldn’t manage it on this occasion. With the laps ticking down, and the field sprint beginning to materialize, Team Type 1 began to show how serious they were about winning what was essentially a hometown race for them by manning the front of the field with two laps to go.
Fly V Australia’s strategy of setting up another win for Ben Kersten proved difficult to achieve, as several other teams also realized that the place to set up their fast men for the bunch kick would be on the long hill that governs the backside of the course.
“We got a bit unstuck there on the back and Ben lost our wheels.” said Aaron Kemps of Fly V. “He got boxed in and I actually hit out on the back straight trying to pull him across on my side and take us to the front, but when I looked back I couldn’t see any of the guys. I wound up coming into this last corner fourth wheel.”
But Kemps’ effort cost him and by the time he realized it was time for him to take over the sprinting duties for the team, he had not much left to offer in the ensuing drag race. That’s when Team Type 1’s efforts on behalf on Hanson paid off.
“We don’t really have our lead-out train, but they did a really good job of setting me up with one to go. Then I was able to stay behind Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare), and he was hoping that with Pinfold on my wheel that I would have to go early and Pinfold would eventually be able to come around me. But I’ve done this sprint a few times and I know you really have to be patient. So I kept it nice and steady, and kept a little bit in the tank so when a guy comes off my wheel to try and pass and that’s when I punch it.”
Hanson transformed his patience into the wheel-width’s advantage he needed at the finish to give him his first win of the 2010 season ahead of Pinfold and Kemps, who held on for third place.
“It’s been a while, I have to say. It’s my first win of this year. I’ve been knocking on the door with a lot of fourth and fifth places … so it feels good to put another notch in the belt.”
Breakaways were not the exception in the women’s race, held earlier in the day, and one rock-star performance from Rachel Warner caught the attention of all in attendance. Warner’s teammate Kate Ross put in a big effort through the start/finish area early on into the 40 minutes of racing that sparked a response from both Laura Cooke (Vanderkitten) and Nicole Johnson (Kenda). With Johnson just about to make the gap, Warner launched.
“I thought that was the best time to go, because I figured the field would get slightly held up behind Nicole going through the first corner.” Warner said. “I tried to go with my teammate without dragging the field along with me and I gained enough momentum that I just bolted up the hill, down the other side and went for broke.”
Warner held a substantial gap over the pack for five laps, grabbing primes and giving the crowd a good show. Other riders, including Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co-Twenty112), Tiffany Pezzulo (Tread.com), and Jen McRae (Team Type 1) tried to stress the peloton, but they would have none of it, bringing it all back together for the finale.
Knowing the course as well as she does, veteran Roswell rider Van Gilder rose to the front of the ranks to position herself for the sprint.
“I was sitting second wheel with one lap to go, and then wound up at the front by turns three and four. That wasn’t where I wanted to be but it was better than being 20 places back.”
Clif-Ryan also wasn’t entirely pleased with her position on the back stretch, but in the end she was strong enough to pull off the Twilight-Roswell double.
“It really got jumbled up, because I got boxed and moved back to seventh or eighth, but I was able to shoot up the inside and I think Anna Lang panicked a little bit. She just went for it from the corner, which was perfect for me since I got a bit of a lead out. I was able to step back and then get a run at her.”