Laura Van Gilder and newly minted USPRO criterium champion Eric Young opened their accounts in the THF Realty Gateway Cup on a steamy Friday night in St. Louis, winning the Tour de Lafayette criterium.
The 116-rider men’s race started with blistering speed on the flat, four-corner 0.9-mile course, with multiple attacks dangling off the front before being swallowed by the charging field.
Fifteen minutes into the 70-minute race, Young (Bissell Pro Cycling) instigated a breakaway that gained 10 seconds before infighting among the escapees saw Justin Maciekowicz (Dogfish Racing) take a solo flyer for the next five laps.
When the Missouri state road and TT champion was pulled back, several more attempts by groups of twos and threes all came to naught until Stefan Rothe (Tulsa Tough) made a strong solo move that lasted until the final 10 minutes of the race.
Heading into five laps to go, a $300 prime sparked a final three-man break that also contained an aggressive Young, who appeared to be playing every card possible to take the win.
But with one to go, it was all together for a classic Lafayette sprint, which Young took over Isaac Howe (Kenda-Geargrinder) and Ivan Dominguez (MRI Performance-Franco Bicycles), who had spent the entire first half of the race on the back.
After winning his first race in the stars-and-stripes jersey, Young traded it for the Gateway Cup leader’s jersey.
Three teams made their collective strength felt throughout the 45-minute women’s event: Colavita-Forno D’Asolo, Vanderkitten-Focus and Primal-MapMyRide. The powerhouse trio quickly shut down attack after attack, but in the end, none of the three had an answer to the one-woman show that is Laura Van Gilder.
Taking $350 in primes before easily outsprinting Joanne Kiesanowski (Tibco-To the Top) and Lauren Hall (Colavita), Van Gilder made it clear why she remains at the top of domestic crit racing.
The THF Realty Gateway Cup continues Saturday with the St. Louis Hills Francis Park Criterium.