Leah Kirchmann kicked off the 2013 USA CRITS Championship Series in high style Saturday night, winning the Optum/Tucson Medical Center Old Pueblo Grand Prix for the second consecutive year.
After the powerful orange and black Optum p/b KBS train pulled back an early breakaway, Kirchmann launched a daring counterattack just 14 laps into the 40-lap criterium in front of the big downtown Tucson crowd. After four trips around the tight downtown circuit, Kirchmann had gained 27 seconds on the field, and her gap continued to widen as the race rolled on. Her Optum p/b KBS teammates helped to neutralize any challengers to her bold solo effort, and by the closing lap Kirchmann had nearly lapped the field, crossing the line alone with a 40-second gap, arms held high.
“We wanted to make it exciting and have an aggressive race,” said Kirchmann. “My teammates and I countered off each other, and my move turned out to be the one that stuck. The atmosphere was definitely a big motivator for me – such a big crowd with everyone cheering loudly, and it being our title sponsor Optum’s own race. Plus, knowing there was a huge pack coming up behind me kept me going all the way to the line.”
Kirchmann’s bold effort landed her on the podium six times for six different jersey awards. She took home the colors for the Overall Race Winner, Laps Led Leader, Under 25 Leader, USA NCC Series Leader, USA Crits Series Leader, and Out of Sight Leader for forming the breakaway of the day. Teammate Lauren Hall narrowly missed joining her teammate on the podium, grabbing 3rd in the bunch sprint to finish 4th overall.
“That was pretty awesome,” said a surprised Kirchmann after the podium presentation. “I didn’t even know there were that many jerseys!”
In the men’s event, Alex Candelario formed part of an early breakaway that gained some space on the field before being reabsorbed by the bunch. Following Candelario’s early move, another breakaway tore off and nearly stayed to the line, but a bunch sprint was in the cards led home by UnitedHealthCare’s Luke Keough. Candelario hung tough for a top ten finish in the bunch sprint, taking 7th place.
Marsh Cooper Wins Landis Cyclery South Mountain Bike Classic Hill Climb, Mike Friedman Second in Circuit Race
The Optum p/b KBS men, fresh off their efforts at Old Pueblo, raced at the nearby Landis Cyclery South Mountain Bike Classic, a two-day event featuring a steep, 6.7 mile mass-start hill climb and a 75 minute circuit race.
On day one, Marsh Cooper claimed victory in the hill climb with teammate Mike Creed in tow, finishing fifth. The following day, Mike Friedman narrowly missed a victory against Elbowz Racing’s talented Eric Marcotte in the circuit race. Cooper was third on the 75-minute circuit, and newly recruited sprinter Eric Young took home 5th.
Women’s Results – Old Pueblo Grand Prix
1. Leah Kirchmann (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
2. Erica Allar (CARE4Cycling p/b Solomon Corp)
3. Joanie Caron (Primal Pro Women p/b BH)
4. Lauren Hall (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
5. Cari Higgins (Exergy TWENTY16)
6. Lenore Pipes (CARE4Cycling p/b Solomon Corp)
7. Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse/Oogie Racing)
8. Jennifer Valente (Exergy TWENTY16)
9. Morgan Patton (Team Novo Nordisk)
10. Lauren Stephens (FCS/Zngine p/b Mr. Restore)
Men’s Results – Old Pueblo Grand Prix
1. Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
2. Demis Alaman (Jamis/Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home)
3. Rahsaan Bahati (ShareCare Cycling)
4. Hilton Clarke (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
5. Shane Kline (Team SmartStop p/b Mountain Khakis)
6. Michael Weicht (CashCall Mortgage)
7. Alex Candelario (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies)
8. Conor Mullervy (Champion System p/b Stan’s NoTubes)
9. Charles Huff (Jelly Belly p/b Kenda)
10. Kevin Mullervy (Champion System p/b Stan’s NoTubes)