A quick decision by Fly V Australia to chase a breakaway with eight laps remaining set up Charles Dionne perfectly for a bunch sprint victory in the final stage of the 51st Annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. Kelly Benefit Strategies’ David Veilleux took second on the stage and held on to the overall win. In the women’s race, Erica Allar (Team Vera Bradley), guest riding for Team Kenda, stole a victory with 200 meters remaining by jumping onto the Colavita Baci-Cooking Light leadout train. Colavita’s Cath Cheatley claimed the overall, her second in three years.
Fly V Express
An eight-man breakaway built up a 47-second gap in the Workers’ Credit Union Downtown criterium. Kelly Benefit Strategies kept the entire team on the front of the field for most of the race, but it was Fly V Australia that took control at the end.
“I just did a little hand sign because we don’t have a radio now,” Dionne said. “So, we better go if we want to catch them and take control of this thing. My team just started to ride and bring the gap down until the last lap when Colavita took over and we just followed them. We just went at the right time and defended for the finish. It was a long shot to win the whole thing, but we won the stage.”
Dionne snuck up the right side of the Main Street finish in Fitchburg with 50 meters to go, but had Veilleux battling beside him.
“It was kind of chaos around the last two corners and I found myself on Jay Thomson’s wheel,” Veilleux said. “IIt was perfect. That was the guy I needed to watch. I just waited, waited, because this finish is slightly uphill, a small headwind too. I tried to go as late as possible, I just thought that it was a little bit late for us to win
Thomson (Fly V Australia) finished third behind Veilleux.
The men’s race consisted of attack after attack, but nothing stuck until Kyle Wamsley of Bissell Pro Cycling and Robert Sweeting of Globalbike-Catoma got away with 36 laps remaining. The two riders expanded the gap to 15 seconds with 34 remaining, and expanded gap to 38 seconds with about 25 laps to go.
Wamsley is working his way back into race condition after a collarbone injury earlier in the season.
“I came to Fitchburg ready to rock and roll,” Wamsley said.
Several chase groups failed to bridge until six riders — Nick Keough and Jake Rytlewski (Kenda Pro Cycling), Andrew Guptill and Tyler Wren (Jamis-Colavita), Robert Britton (Bissell) and Jake Hollenbach (AXA Equitable Cycling Team-CRC) — worked their way up to Wamsley and Sweeting with 15 laps remaining.
Frank Pipp (Bissell) bridged to the chase a few laps later, expanding team representation to three in the break.
The aggressiveness of Bissell and the newly formed and efficient lead group was enough to put Fly V Australia into action mode.
Veilleux was happy with the yellow jersey, which is the second year in a row a Kelly Benefit Strategies rider has done so at the Longsjo Classic. He only led by a few seconds going into the criterium.
Colavita Home Cooking
Allar made an aggressive move after Colavita Baci-Cooking Light sat on the front, covered attacks and ate up primes throughout the race. Allar moved into second wheel of the Colavita leadout train with two to go, which designated sprinter Kelly Benjamin said she mistakenly allowed.
“The girls did great, I still came around third wheel of the last turn,” Benjamin said. “I got a little boxed in because the course turns to the right. Erica took the right line. She didn’t do anything bad, she took the exact right line which made me come around the side and I couldn’t really get out because there was somebody there. I kind of had to stop pedaling for a couple of pedal strokes, and you can’t stop really pedaling in a sprint.”
Allar beat Benjamin by half a wheel, and Olivia Dillon of Peanut Butter & Co.-2012 took third.
“I have a lot of bike handling skills, so I use it to my advantage,” Allar said. “I’ve grown up on the track and so I just was really patient today. [Colavita] has a super strong team here and they kept it
together and pretty much did a team trial throughout the entire race. It was pretty obvious they were going to set up for a sprint, which is something I?m pretty good at. After that it was just playing off their game.”
Allar said it’s her first National Racing Calendar win.
“It was super windy up the home straight,” Allar said. “I jumped, committed to it and was lucky to hold everybody off.”
Benjamin defended her green points jersey early on in the race, wrapping up the competition by sprinting for points laps with the help of her teammates up front early in the race.
“It’s a long weekend, lots of sprinting,” Benjamin said. “I didn’t get the win for the team, but I’ve got to be happy with the result.”
Cheatley all but wrapped up the yellow jersey with a 71-second lead after winning the first two two stages and earning second in the time trial on Sunday. She stayed aggressive in the final stage Monday. Her teammate Rushlee Buchanan took second overall, with Bron Ryan of Verducci Breakaway Racing third.