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Chris Thater Memorial Criterium - Race Report
By Lyne Lamoureux
Date: 8/27/2007
Chris Thater Memorial Criterium - Race Report

Kyle Wamsley (Navigators) was rewarded for his aggressiveness with the win ahead of a charging field. Theresa Cliff Ryan (Verducci) surprised the dominating Cheerwine team to take the win.

In perfect bike racing conditions, with temperatures in the mid 70s under cloudy skies, the 24th Annual Chris Thater Memorial Race was held in Binghamton, New York.

Racing aggressively, Kyle Wamsley of the Navigators Insurance Cycling Team was away in a five-man break for over half the race, but was caught in the final laps by a hard-charging field led by the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team. In a well-timed late move and with no serious organized lead out in the field, the 27-year old Wamsley launched his final attack and crossed the line ahead of Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) and Karl Menzies (HealthNet-Maxxis).

"I hit the last corner and I almost jumped off my bike, I was so happy to look back and see the gap that I had. I just knew I had it won from there." said Wamsley after the race "It's a super hard race, I took a big gamble at the finish and it paid off."

Hoping to buck history, as the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium has only been won once in a field sprint over the past 23 years, the Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team put all its men at the front of the field to reel in the break, and position sprinter Ivan Dominguez for a win, and until the final laps it looked as if the red-white and blue team would pull out the win. But when Wamsley attacked, no one reacted.

"That was a high-powered break that was up the road," Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team Director Harm Jansen said. "The responsibility kind of rested on our shoulders because we had a whole squad here. But it took a little too much out of the guys to bring that back."

In the women's race, the Cheerwine team led by USA Crits leader Laura Van Gilder was attacking and counter-attacking every move, and tried to have a rider off the front through the whole race. But their tactic didn't work as Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci Breakaway Racing) won the sprint and crossed the line ahead of Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Erica Allar (Penn-State). This was the second win for Cliff-Ryan in the USA Crits Series following her win at the Tour of Somerville back in May.

"It was a tough race, with constant attacks," said Cliff-Ryan. "It feels awesome, (it's) my first time here, I'm really happy to come away with a win."

At stake was more that the criterium win. Positioned at the end of the season, the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium plays a key role in the standings for both the USA Crits and National Race Calendar (NRC) competitions. The Chris Thater Memorial Race is the eighth of the nine event USA Crits Series and the penultimate race in the men's NRC competition.

The current USA Crits Series leader Mark Hekman (A&F Pro Development Cycling Team) is out due to an injury sustained in Downers Grove race, and second place Frank Travieso (AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork) was hoping to solidify his lead in the competition with a win. Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) has been dominating the USA Crits Series and has a stranglehold on the lead. Her teammate Kelly Benjamin was hoping to move up in the standings with the absence of second-place Shontelle Gauthier (Team UltraLink).

Going into the criterium, current NRC leader Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health-Bissell) had a slim lead of only 56 points over second place Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis). In the hotly contested Men's Team Standings, Toyota-United Pro Cycling and Health Net presented by Maxxis have been exchanging the top two spots for most of the year, with HealthNet-Maxxis leading by 136 points with only two races to go.

Aggressive Kyle Wamsley launches his final attack to take the win

A strong field tackled the 40 laps of the 6-corner, 1.2 mile circuit with one hill around scenic Recreation Park. Right from the start, Kyle Wamsley (Navigators) showed that he meant business when he launched a solo attack on the first lap with chasers trying to bridge. The field reabsorbed all escapees after 10 minutes of racing. In the next few laps, other riders tried their luck including Josh Dillon (FiorddiFrutta) and Emile Abraham (Priority Health-Bissell). All attacks were quickly nullified by the field led by the AEG-Toshiba Jet Network team.

With 25 laps to go, 5-times Canadian Champion Mark Walters (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) initiated a break and was joined by Ted King (Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell) and Rite-Aid Pro Cycling Team teammates Alejandro Borrajo and Bill Elliston. The reaction was swift as the whole Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team came to the front of the field and the chase was on. The high powered 5-man break managed to get a maximum of 45 seconds on the field and were finally reeled in with two laps to go.

But with no help from the other teams, the Toyota-United team burnt all its matches, and only Chris Wherry was left to guide Dominguez in the final laps. As soon as the catch was made, Shawne Milne (Health Net presented by Maxxis) counter attacked to test the legs of the remaining riders and was quickly brought back by the field.

The Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast-led field charged into the final lap, with an isolated Dominguez marked by Health Net presented by Maxxis teammates Karl Menzies and Rory Sutherland. Wamsley surprised everyone on the final time up Seminary hill and jumped to get a small gap and crossed the line three seconds ahead of Dominguez who won the field sprint.

"I just wanted to win so bad today, I had a rough couple of weeks, and I felt good coming up this morning and I felt I'd give it a shot." said Wamsley "I raced aggressive and I wanted to be in the front of the race all the time and I was. And that big gamble paid off. You have to risk stuff every now and then to win."

"Basically, Dominguez didnít have support from us anymore and nobody from any other teams wanted to bring him back," said Toyota-Unitedís Ivan Stevic racing for the first time since he won the B World Road Race champion almost two months ago.

Theresa Cliff-Ryan wins her second USA Crits of the year

A much smaller field lined up for the women's 30 laps, 35 miles race as many of the domestic riders are currently racing in Europe.

The first attack was launched predictably by the Cheerwine team, with Laura Van Gilder charging up the hill on Seminary avenue and she was quickly joined by Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci Breakaway Racing).

The duo was caught after five minutes, and a counter move was launched by Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) and Megan Guarnier (Terry Precision Bicycles). Guarnier sat up a few minutes later and Benjamin tried to hold on to her small gap but was quickly gobbled up by the field.

The next hour of racing followed the same pattern with Cheerwine trying to establish a break, launching its riders one after another and every time the field would slowly reel the escapees back.

Following this pattern from the Cheerwine team, it was now Canadian Leigh Hobson's turn, and she was joined by Rebecca Much (Schick USA) with Kristen Lasasson (Team Lipton) leading the chase in the field, assisted by Robin Farina (Target Training). The duo managed to stay away for a few laps and with 18 laps to go, Van Gilder jumped from the field, pulled five riders with her and eclipsed the breakaway. Her strong acceleration caused a split in the field, and dropped riders were being lapped.

Going into the final five laps, the field was all together again. With 2 laps to go, the Cheerwine riders massed to the front with Van Gilder sitting safely in the fourth spot. With 1 lap to go, Chrissy Ruiter (Cheerwine) moved to the front to establish the lead out when Kathleen Billington (Schick USA) attacked. She was brought back by Hobson bringing the field together for a bunch sprint. When Benjamin started the leadout, Cliff-Ryan came around her and crossed the line first followed by Benjamin and Erica Allar (Salamander)

Unofficial NRC Standings

With unofficial calculations, Ben Jacques-Maynes should remain the NRC leader with a miniscule lead of only 6 points ahead of Rory Sutherland who scored 50 points. Ivan Dominguez picked up 75 points and Karl Menzies scored 60 points for his third place. With one race remaining in the NRC, Health Net has a 215-point lead over Toyota-United in the Men's Team classification. The final menís race on the NRC calendar is the 100K Classic criterium in Atlanta on Labor Day, Sept. 3.

Men's Results

1. Kyle Wamsley (Navigators Insurance) 1.51.01
2. Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team) 0.03
3. Karl Menzies (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
4. Keven Lacombe (Kelly Benefit/Medifast)
5. Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis)
6. Erik Lyman (Calyon/Litespeed)
7. Emile Abraham (Priority Health p/b Bissell)
8. Anibal Borrajo (Rite Aid)
9. Luca Damiani (Colavita Sutter Home)
10. Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba Jet Network)
11. Mark Walters (Kodak Gallery Sierra Nevada)
12. Davide Frattini (Colavita Sutter Home)
13. Alejandro Acton (Colavita Sutter Home)
14. Josh Dillon (FiordiFrutta)
15. Adam Myerson (Nerac Pro Cycling)
16. Oleg Grishkin (Navigators Insurance)
17. Gavriel Epstein (CRCA/Sakonnet Tech U25)
18. Yosvany Falcon (AEG-Toshiba Jet Network)
19. Mark McCormack
20. Frank McCormack
21. Ryan DeWald (Rite Aid)
22. Jake Hollenbach (CCB/Volkswagon)
23. Edward King (Priority Health p/b Bissell)
24. Stephan Kincaid (Rite Aid)
25. Nick Friesen (Kelly Benefit/LSV)
26. Ryan Roth (Kelly Benefit/Medifast)
27. Daniel Zmolik (CRCA/Empire Cycling Team)
28. Bennet van der Genugten (A & F Pro Development)
29. Benjamin Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health p/b Bissell)
30. Peter Lopinto (Kodak Gallery Sierra Nevada)
31. Scott Zwizanski (Priority Health p/b Bissell)
32. Chris Wherry (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team)
33. Tom Soladay (Kelly Benefit/LSV) 0.32
34. Igor Miscki (Foundation CRCA) 0.35
35. Shawn Milne (Health Net p/b Maxxis) 0.46
36. Rich Harper (A & F Pro Development) 1.16
37. Gera Castro (Nature's Path)
38. Remi McManus (A & F Pro Development)
39. Colin Sandberg (Meredith Group - GPOA Cannon)
40. Craig Dodson (Nature's Path)
41. Mike Margarite (CRCA/Empire Cycling Team)
42. Hayden Brooks (FiordiFrutta)
43. Daniel Holt (Nerac Pro Cycling)
44. David Hoyle (Guy's Racing)
45. Jackie Simes (Pennsylvania Lightning)
46. J. Gabriel Lloyd (CRCA Remax)
47. Josh England (A & F Pro Development)
48. Brady Gibney (Team Clif Bar)
49. Jonathan Erdelyi (Metra Racing Wendys)
50. Nikola Smutny (Nerac Pro Cycling)
51. Eric Brownell (Bicycling Magazine)
52. Daniel Estevez (Hot Tubes Cycling)
53. Tucker Brown (PA Lightning)
54. Martin Lechowicz (GS Mengoni)
55. Kevin Putman (CBRC)

Women's Results

1. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Verducci/Breakaway) 1.36.55
2. Kelly Benjamin (UCI WPT Cheerwine)
3. Erica Allar (Salamander)
4. Laura Van Gilder (UCI WPT Cheerwine)
5. Jennifer Bodine (ABRT-Lattitude)
6. Sarah Caravello (Aaron's Pro Cycling Team)
7. Anna Milkowski (Unattached)
8. Heather Labance (Team Advil/Chapstick)
9. Kristen LaSasso (TEAm Lipton)
10. Megan Guarnier (Terry Precision)
11. Debony Diehl (Sunapee/S&W)
12. Leslie Jennings (ABRT-Lattitude)
13. Robin Farina (Target Training)
14. Rebecca Wellons (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire)
15. Jenette Williams (Hub Racing)
16. Margaret Shirley (CRCA)
17. Kathleen Billington (Schick USA)
18. Rebecca Much (Schick USA)
19. Kiroko Shimada (Target Training)
20. Leigh Hobson (UCI WPT Cheerwine)
21. Silke Wunderwald (Anthem-CCCC Cycling)
22. Laura Igoe (Tom's Pro Bike/Plan2Peak) 0.21
23. Tricia Carnila (Verducci/Breakaway) 0.46
24. Chrissy Ruiter (UCI WPT Cheerwine)
25. Hadley Trotter (HT Naturals) 8.05
26. Lisa Jellett (Verducci/Breakaway)
27. Rachel Warner (Target Training)
28. Lenore Imhof (Colavita Racing)
29. Susanne Delaney (NEBC/Cycle Loft/Devonshire) 8.10
30. Narjan Huizing (Team Tenda)
31. Yarden Golan (Target Training) 15.05
32. Maryann Martinez (Anthem-CCCC Cycling) 17.05

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