Eric Young and the Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies Men’s team claimed the top step at Kelly Benefit Strategies’ hometown race, the Kelly Cup, the Optum p/b KBS Women captured second and third with Amber Gaffney and Courteney Lowe in the women’s race. Kelly Benefit Strategies’ Mike Batley reports on Sunday’s actions.
Overcast skies, threatening rain and muggy conditions greeted the riders at the start line of the BikeJam/Kelly Cup. 2013 is the 15th year of this race and festival run in Patterson Park in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The 1 mile circuit with a long, draggy uphill favors exciting sprint finishes but surprisingly it also invites aggressive, attacking racing by those riders looking to separate themselves from the fast finishers.
Kelly Benefit Strategies have sponsored the Kelly Cup Pro/1/2 race for the men and women the last 7 years. But, as this is a Kelly “home” race, Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies riders are watched, shadowed and covered, making this a very difficult race to win.
The last win by a Kelly sponsored pro rider came back in 2008 with a pack sprint win, by then Kelly pro rider, David Veilleux. It was into this context that Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies men Jeremy Durrin, Mike Sherer, Mike Creed and Eric Young lined up. On news of his retirement, Mike Creed was singled out for a call up to honor his years of racing.
From the gun the pace was very hard from the start with several local elite teams trying to isolate the Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies riders. About a quarter into the 35 mile Criterium, Mike Creed countered an attack, picked up another rider and attempted to establish a break. After about 2 laps he was reeled in.
This led to a furious number of counters and out of that came the break that stuck. Mike Sherer worked massively for Eric Young establishing an 8 man break. Every time the break looked to be getting caught Mike Sherer would put in another huge pull to move it out again, with only 3 other riders making it across. Back in the dwindling main field, Jeremy Durrin and Mike Creed helped put the brakes on any other racers looking to bridge the gap.
With 1 to go Mike Sherer went to the front and drilled it for ¾ of a lap leading out Eric Young. A Kelly Benefits Strategies/LSV amateur elite rider started the sprint from about 350 meters out but the long, draggy uphill finish proved too much and Eric Young had timed his sprint perfectly finishing a few bike lengths ahead of the breakaway group for a great victory.
In the Women’s race, Amber Gaffney captured 2nd place and Courteney Lowe took 3rd to finish a successful weekend for the team.