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USA Crits Series - NE
USA and Canada, April 26-September 25, 2008
Race 2 - June 1: Tulsa Tough, Tulsa, Oklahoma
Stevic wins, while Hopkins maintains series lead
Current UCI B World Road Race Champion Ivan Stevic took out the third, annual, Tulsa Tough criterium, the second event of the 2008 USA Crits Series. Stevic spearheaded a Toyota United onslaught that saw them fill the first five places in the criterium.
"This is my first race win here with the team in the States, so I feel like I'm coming back!" Stevic said of his success.
Despite a flash rainstorm that swamped the course earlier in the day, the Men's pro field raced under ideal conditions on the six-corner, L-shaped course come early evening. The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team bided their time before sending what amounted to a team of hit men up the road. By mid-race, brother's Jonnie and older brother Hilton Clarke went up the road with fellow Australian Caleb Manion and Stevic and one rider from the always-aggressive Texas Roadhouse team and another challenger from Mercy Cycling. With the six-man getaway group firmly established, the Toyota riders had to heighten the pace in order to keep the hard charging field away.
"We had to go really hard because the field was 10 to 20 seconds behind for a long time." Stevic said after his victory. "The course was also very technical because after you finished the uphill section, you went downhill into the wind right away, so it was not easy."
The four men from Toyota-United left their breakaway companions behind and remained unchallenged until the finish. Stevic crossed the line in first place followed by the younger of the Clarkes and Manion.
Jeff Hopkins (Inferno Racing) now holds the overall lead in the USA crite Series by a margin of just 70 points over Seth Hansley (Locos Grill & Pub), and Yosvany Falcon (TOSHIBA-Santo presented by Herbalife).
Kelly too good again
Perennial favourite Kelly Benjamin brought the women of the Cheerwine Cycling squad another National Race Calendar victory. Mirroring the situation in the men's race, Cheerwine rolled to the line with the strongest team representation and worked throughout to position Benjamin to take the bunch sprint.
"My problem was Shelley [Olds] waiting outside of me," said Benjamin. "But the race was pretty much executed by my team. I have to give them all the credit." Jen McCrae (Advil-Chapstick) recovered from a mid-race wreck to place third on the day behind Benjamin and Olds (PROMAN/Paradigm).
Benjamin's win now places her atop the overall standing in the 2008 USA CRITS Series competition ahead of Jennifer Wilson (Vanderkitten Racing), and teammate Ally Brandt.
The next instalment of the 2008 USA CRITS Series takes place on June 15th at the Harlem Skyscraper Classic in New York City.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rob Evans/www.otbphoto.com
Pro Men 1 Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 2 Jonny Clarke (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 3 Caleb Manion (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 4 Hilton Clarke (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 5 Henk Vogels (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 6 Chad Burdzilauskas (Texas Roadhouse) 7 Jeff Hopkins (Team Inferno Pro Cycling Team) 8 Chris Wherry (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 9 Alexi Martinez (SuccessfulLiving.com) 10 Chad Cagle (Mercy Cycling) Pro Women 1 Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine Cycling) 2 Shelley Olds (PROMAN/Paradigm) 3 Jennifer McRae (Advil-Chapstick) 4 Allyson Brandt (Cheerwine Cycling) 5 Bri Kovac (Team Revolution) 6 Cari Higgins (America's Dairyland) 7 Monique Hanley (Team Type 1) 8 Jennfier Wilson (Vanderkitten Racing) 9 Carrie Cash-Wootten (Team Revolution) 10 Melissa Sanborn (Vanderkitten Racing)