Capping off an incredible year and bookending directly into the unusually early start of the 2013 UCI road racing season, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Mike Creed won the team’s final race of 2012 on Saturday, Tobago’s Scarburough Criterium. Following the criterium win, Andy Bajadali delivered a fantastic ride at the week’s capstone event, the mountainous 112 kilometer Tour of Tobago (UCI 1.2). Bajadali took second at the first official UCI race of 2013.
“Given the nature of the racing calendar in the Carribean, which hosts events late into the season and beyond the World Championships, the UCI begins the 2013 season of the America’s Tour in October,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “While it’s unusual for us to “start” racing so early, we saw an opportunity to hit the ground running for 2013 and gain some early UCI points, and the guys did exactly that in Tobago. It was a great week of racing and Baj and Creed capped it off with some big results.”
Creed Claims Impressive Solo Win in Tobago
Mike Creed, continuing the excellent late season form he displayed at Colorado’s US Pro Challenge and last month’s World Team Time Trial Championships, rode solo to his victory in the Scarborough race, the final event of the Tobago International Cycling Classic – a 4-day series raced by Creed, Bajadali, Ken Hanson, and Mike Friedman in preparation for Sunday’s main event, the Tour of Tobago.
The quartet employed highly aggressive tactics in the Scarborough race, attacking and counterattacking early and often on the 60 kilometer criterium course. Creed helped establish a strong 5-man move that lapped the field early in the race, and lapped the field once again over the closing kilometers. He launched a daring attack out of the breakaway with 6 laps remaining and was uncatchable, riding solo to the final finish line of the 2012 season.
Bajadali Attacks Mountainous Tour of Tobago To Claim First UCI Podium of 2013
Facing a tough series of category 1, 2, and 3 climbs along a beautiful coastal course for the 112 kilometer Tour of Tobago, the four-man team raced aggressively in the early goings, propelling Bajadali and Creed to the head of affairs. The brisk pace and difficult course caused the race to unravel quickly – just 30 kilometers in, 15 riders remained together at the front, including Bajadali and Creed as two of the major pace setters. Creed, pushing the pace on a particularly tricky descent, went down hard through a muddy, washed out corner. As a result, he was unable to rejoin the leaders and returned to the peloton, leaving the team’s hopes for a podium on Bajadali’s shoulders.
Baj, the consumate climber, responded well to the pressure after Creed’s untimely crash. He dropped his remaining breakaway companions on the second to last major ascent and by the summit he was clear by over a minute. With 60 kilometers of racing remaining on the exceedingly windy course, it proved too difficult for Bajadali to ride his solo effort to the finish line, and he was caught by Michael Cuming (Rapha-Condor-Sharp) and Darren Matthews (Team Coco’s). The trio sped into the downtown finish line together. With just 300 meters to go, Matthews snuck away from his competitors to claim the win, and Bajadali was able to outsprint Cuming after the long day of climbing to take second, earning Optum p/b KBS the earliest possible UCI podium for the 2013 season.
Wohlberg was satisfied with the team’s efforts at the UCI event, especially after losing Creed to bad luck.
“I think if Creed had not crashed, we would’ve won hands down,” he said. “He was that strong this week. But Bajadali flew the flag well for Optum p/b KBS today and delivered a great result. Of course, we look at this as the end of our long 2012 road season, but it’s a bonus to begin 2013 with a head start on UCI points.”