Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis-Sutter Home) won a nail-biter at the Riverview Criterium on Sunday in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Borrajo had been away for much of the race in a two-man escape with Juan Pablo Dotti (Aerocat Cycling). But what had been a gap of almost a half-minute at one point was nearly erased on the bell lap.
Alas, nearly isn’t nearly good enough. The two hung tough — Tulsa tough — and Borrajo collected the victory ahead of Dotti in the third and final round of the Saint Francis Tulsa Tough omnium. Ken Hanson (Jelly Belly-Kenda) finished third.
The rectangular course alongside the Arkansas River featured scorching temperatures broiling the steep ascent of Cry Baby Hill, an equally steep and dangerous descent, and a flat 800-meter finishing stretch.
Mat Ankney (Tulsa Tough Racing), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly-Kenda), Luca Damiani (Kenda-5Hr Energy), Quinn Keough (Team Exergy) and Jonny Sundt (Kenda-5Hr Energy) were among the early animators in the 80-minute race as various combinations were tried and found wanting while the bunch turned sub-two-minute laps.
As the clock ticked under an hour to race Andrew Dahlheim (Bissell Pro Cycling) collected a $100 prime and kept going. Three riders went with him, briefly, but couldn’t stick; the peloton let Dahlheim dangle for a while, then ran him down with 50 or so minutes to go.
Stefan Rothe (Tulsa Tough) attacked next and took a sizable gap, his jersey completely unzipped and flapping in the 95-degree heat. The German national, racing out of Austin, Texas, had built an 11-second lead with 45 minutes to race.
Brad Cole (Mercy Elite) shot out of the bunch and tried to bridge as Rothe kept glancing back over one shoulder, expecting company. He didn’t get it.
Rothe collected a $160 prime with 42 minutes to go, and organizers promptly laid another $160 prime on the table; he pocketed that one, too.
But Rothe wouldn’t stay out there cashing checks much longer — his tongue was hanging out and he was fanning it as he rolled through the start-finish, and next time through Tyler Wren (Jamis-Sutter Home) had replaced him at the head of affairs with 35 minutes to race.
Lawson Craddock (Trek-Livestrong) was next to move forward, and a small group found some daylight between themselves and the bunch with a half hour remaining. Then Dotti and Borrajo — the latter sitting third overall in the omnium standings — leaped out of that small group and it was a two-man break with 14 laps to go.
A lap later the two had 17 seconds’ advantage, with Dotti leading on the flats and descents and Borrajo setting pace on the climb.
Christian Helmeg (Elbows Racing) and Dahlheim launched a chase but with 11 laps to go they were stuck in no-man’s land. A lap later the peloton had them in sight through the start-finish.
With eight laps remaining the Borrajo-Dotti combo was ticking right along and the Dahlheim-Helmeg chase was back in the field, which was getting serious about taking back time.
Seven laps from the finish Borrajo and Dotti had 28 seconds’ advantage. With six to go the chase had taken back 10 seconds and the leaders were looking a bit cooked. Still, their advantage held steady for another lap.
With four laps remaining Borrajo and Dotti had actually extended their lead back to 20 seconds, and Jelly Belly had three riders on the front of the bunch, driving the pursuit.
But it just wasn’t happening — with three remaining the gap remained unchanged. Ditto with two to go. And when the bell rang, the leaders appeared to have it in the bag. Both men looked over their shoulders through the start-finish and then went for the gold.
The peloton closed to within sight of the leaders, but two late crashes — one on the descent and another, inexplicably, on Cry Baby Hill — took some of the snap out of the chase. But it was a race for third in any case, as up the road, Borrajo crossed the line with Dotti in his slipstream and the two men shook hands as they crossed the line.
Stay tuned for more news from Tulsa.
- 1. Alejandro Borrajo, Jamis-Sutter Home
- 2. Juan Pablo Dotti, Aerocat Cycling
- 3. Ken Hanson, Jelly Belly-Kenda