The 4th Winston-Salem Cycling Classic
Canadian and Italian Riders Take Crowns in UCI Road Races at Fourth Annual Winston-Salem Cycling Classic
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Captures Criterium Wins by American Women and Men
Canadian Ryan Roth of Silber Pro Cycling claimed the victory in the 110-mile (177 kilometer) men’s professional road race of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic. Italian Rossella Ratto of Cylance Pro Cycling timed her attack perfectly to solo to the win in the 63.2-mile (101.7 kilometer) women’s professional road race. The Memorial Day road races are both internationally sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the women’s race UCI 1.2 and the men’s event UCI 1.1.
On Sunday, May 29, the fourth annual Winston-Salem Cycling Classic began with pro criterium titles for men and women captured by UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team riders John Murphy, from Horse Shoe, N.C., and Coryn Rivera, from Tustin, Calif., respectively. Both days of racing at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic are part of the USA Cycling Professional Road Tour.
The Winston-Salem Cycling Classic expanded this year to become a 10-day event, May 21-30, called Winston-Salem Cycling Week. In addition to the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, the week included the Volkswagen USA Cycling Masters & Para-Cycling Road National Championships May 24-28, the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Road Race & Time Trial National Championships May 27-28, and Gears & Guitars concert series.
Monday – Road Races
A total of 122 riders from 16 teams battled in the action-packed, 14-lap men’s race through neighborhoods and downtown city streets of Winston-Salem. Only 39 riders were able to finish the race in the Arts District on Monday afternoon.
Roth was part of a seven-rider breakaway that came together halfway through the race. The break included teammates Tom Zirbel (USA) and Evan Huffman (USA) of the Rally Cycling, Robbie Squire (USA) of Holowesko/Citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear, Marco Canola (Italy) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, Eric Marcotte (USA) of Team Jamis and Bruno Langlois (Canada) of Garneau Québécor.
The seven riders worked together to establish a gap of one minute to the field, that was shattered by the heat, humidity and undulating course. Attacks that would come fast and furious in the final 10 miles were started by Langlois at the end of the penultimate lap. Huffman made his move on the final climb only to be caught by Marcotte, Squire, Canola and Roth in the final two kilometers. Roth was able to come around his competitors to cross the finish line with a time of four hours, nine minutes and 48 seconds for the 110-mile race ahead of Marcotte, who took second and Huffman, in third.
“That hurt,” Roth, a former Canadian national champion, stated about one of the biggest wins of the year so far. “I was cramping a lot the last lap. I had a bit of a survival strategy to hopefully stick with the strong guys on the last hill and see what I could do in the last bit. The team has been consistent all year, but we haven’t had a proper across-the-line first win so that’s what we were shooting for, so we’re happy.”
“Our strategy for Silber was always to be represented in the breakaways. We were going to protect Ryan, he was our go-to guy, so he was very quiet in the first half. Ryan is a very experienced rider, he’s our leader for a reason and he’s lethal when he has a chance to win a race,” added Silber Pro Cycling Sports Director Gord Fraser.
The women’s race, which preceded the men’s event on Memorial Day at 10 o’clock in the morning, featured 106 racers from 19 teams representing 15 countries. No attack managed to escape the grip of the peloton for more than one of the eight laps. Time and time again, riders upped the pace at the front, never managing to escape, but forcing splits in the field.
The humid conditions, hot temperatures and four previous days of racing in Winston-Salem took a toll of many of the competitors. The peloton was down to 25 riders with two laps to go. Ratto countered an attack from Australian Tayler Wiles of the Happy Tooth Dental Pro Cycling Team on the final steep climb on Manly Street.
The Italian racer established a gap of 20 seconds on the bell lap and managed to hold to claim the first UCI victory for her Cylance Pro team. She finished the race in a time of two hours, 38 minutes and 49 seconds. Her teammate Valentina Scandolara of Italy took second. Coryn Rivera of the UnitedHealthcare Professional Women’s Cycling Team was third, who won the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic professional criterium on Sunday.
“We planned to do a hard race. I had my teammates working for me, putting me in a good position on every climb,” said Ratto. “With two laps to go, we went really fast and I saw that the peloton was splitting, and I saw that they were stopping on that part of the climb and I said ‘this is the right time because they are tired’. I went full gas. I believed in what I was I doing. And I wanted to thank my team as much as possible, and I continued hard through the last kilometers.”
“It was hard, but it depends on the way you approached it,” Ratto said of the 7.8-mile loop. “Today, we kept a really high speed and with the heat, it was even harder. But there are a lot of places where the peloton can come back together so it’s just a matter of continuing to surviving and to go solo at the right moment.”
Sunday – Criteriums
Aggressive racing was at the fore-front on Sunday’s 0.8-mile course around Bailey Park, an urban green space in downtown Winston-Salem. Attacks flew from the start of the 90-minute men’s criterium, but no escape managed to stay away long.
The dynamic racing led to many riders dropping off the pace as the laps ticked by until a promising move escaped halfway through the race. Six riders bridged to American Ty Magner of UnitedHealthcare, who attacked a previous short-lived break. The seven escapees pushed the gap up to 21 seconds, but the field would have none of it. Canadian Alex Cataford of the Silber Racing Team made the next attempt causing more re-shuffling at the front of the race. With seven laps to go, the field was down to 48 riders out of 108 starters.
With five laps to go in the race, the UnitedHealthcare team formed at the front of the field, with eventual winner Murphy tucked in. No one could come around Murphy after he unleashed his sprint in the final corner. Reigning USA Professional Criterium Champion Brad Huff of Rally Cycling was second and Magner, third.
“Our UnitedHealthcare team today was phenomenal. We were represented in every break. We weren’t sure if it was going to be a break or a bunch sprint, so we had to be ready for both. We had all our guys ready for the bunch sprint, we lined it out at the end and they delivered me to the last corner, which is what I asked them to do. And then I was able to deliver with the win so we’re very happy,” said Murphy.
He does admit to a little pressure after seeing his teammate win in the women’s Winston-Salem Cycling Classic criterium. “We have super strong teams for both men and women. Obviously our goals when it comes to crits are always to win. When the women go ahead and deliver for us, it puts pressure on us (men’s squad) a bit that we have to be part of the bargain.”
In the women’s criterium, which preceded the men’s on Saturday, 82 racers from 13 countries took the start in rainy conditions. The wet roads and technical course led to multiple attacks in the first half of the 60-minute race. Americans Lindsay Beyer of Hagens Berman Supermint Pro Cycling Team, Alison Jackson of Team Twenty16-Ridebiker and Ilaria Sanguineti (Italy) of BePink were some of the riders who tried to escape to no avail.
As the rain stopped and the roads dried, Skylar Schneider (USA) of ISCorp presented by Smart Choice MRI managed a solo escape with 17 laps to go in the race. Though she stayed away for six laps, her gap stayed under the 15-second mark, with the reigning USA Professional Criterium Champion Lauren Tamayo of UnitedHealthcare controlling the front of the field.
Attacks continued to fly off the front of the dwindling field but it was obvious with three laps to go that a bunch sprint was imminent. On the final lap, Rivera’s teammate Iris Slappendel (The Netherlands) took the front to keep the speed high until Rivera started her sprint at 350 meters to go. Celebrating her victory, Rivera crossed the finish line with over a bike length on second-place Erica Allar (USA) of Rally Cycling. Australian Kimberley Wells of Colavita-Bianchi was third.
“It was definitely not an easy course. It’s not flat, so we didn’t have our entire team [at the end] like we usually do in a criterium. We know what it takes to win races and it doesn’t come by panicking. We knew what we had to do and it wasn’t sitting on the front with five [laps] to go,” sprint-specialist Rivera explained. “The key to this course with Iris and I left, and Anna, was to keep it fast in the second to last straight so that’s all Iris needed to do for me and that’s what we executed.”
The victory was very welcome for Rivera who finished a close second in Sunday’s USA Cycling Professional Road Championship, also hosted in Winston-Salem. “It’s a little bit better to come out of it with a win. But a championship is still a championship, still bummed out on that. But today was definitely a good day. It’s nice to have a little bit more teammates too, now that it’s not just all the Americans.”
About the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic
The Winston-Salem Cycling Classic, took place May 29 and 30, 2016 in downtown Winston-Salem, including Bailey Park. The Winston-Salem Cycling Classic is a USA Cycling Professional Road Tour event, and one of only two single-day UCI road races in the United States. Sponsors of the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic include Boston Scientific, the Carolina Pain Institute, OrthoCarolina, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Flow Automotive, Novant Health, City of Winston-Salem, BB&T, Winston-Salem Journal, Clear Channel Radio and Visit Winston-Salem. Follow online at WinstonSalemCycling.com, Facebook (WScycling) and Twitter (@WScycling).
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