Monday, October 06, 2008

VK Holds Strong At USA Cycling National Championships in Downers Grove, IL
Below is race recap as told by Vanderkitten's Melissa Sanborn:

This past weekend in Downers Grove, IL brought one of the fastest criteriums of the year. The US Criterium National Championship title was on the line and it was a big day for many teams as Vanderkitten fielded the strong core group of riders Jennifer Wilson, Liz Hatch, Leigh Valletti, and Melissa Sanborn. The VKats were primed to place at least one of their riders in the top 10 since they knew it was going to be a very tough race with the winners of the last five national crit championships present with full supporting teams along with recently crowned National Road Champion Brooke Miller in attendance as well.

The pace set off furiously with immediate attacks on the famed figure-8 course, which has been used for many years to decide the champion. As if the course’s technical and undulating terrain wasn’t challenge enough, the wind was also a factor. Several breakaway attempts were made and the VKats awaited the right combination knowing that, unlike the previous day’s warmup race, nothing was likely to get away with so many top sprinters in the race gunning for the championship. The 31 laps took their toll on the field, and the VKats were not immune. Melissa crashed with 6 laps to go but was able to get back into the race and take Jen as far as she could on the last lap. Liz unbelievably blew out both tires around 7 laps to go but was able to get back into the race to help lead the chase to bring back a late break. Leigh also had an unfortunate mishap, getting taken out on the last turn and crashing hard but got back up and finished the race. Jen was left to fight it out solo through the last 5 turns, a hard task to tackle while the strongest teams of the race charged to drop off their sprinters into the final turns to victory. Still, she hung on for a strong 11th place.

The Vanderkittens still lead the USA Crit Series overall team competition and sprinter kitten Jen Wilson is just 16 points from the top spot in 2nd. Come watch the team defend at the final two races of the series in San Francisco on September 13th and Las Vegas on September 25th!

Photo: Leonard Basobas,

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