The expansive parking lot of Anaheim's Angels Stadium was transformed into a fast, flat 1.7-kilometer criterium course on Thursday as the USA Cycling Junior, U23, and Elite Road National Championships continued with junior and U23 criterium events on Friday.
The men's U23 criterium provided a grand finale to the day's ten events when 19-year-old Justin Williams threw his bike at the line in a massive bunch sprint to barely squeak past second-placed Jake Keough at the end of 35 laps. Daniel Holloway took the bronze in the 109-strong field.
Attacks began in the first lap of the race, and many lasted numerous laps - some composed of one racer, and others of groups of as many as 10. With about 11 laps to go, though, a number of teams including Fiordifrutta, Garmin/Chipotle, VMG/FELT, Rock Racing, and Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast began battling on the front of the peloton to take control of the race. With one lap to go, the men of Garmin/Chipotle and VMG/FELT took control and ramped up the pace, shattering the field.
"I kind of bought my time," Williams said. "They started to sprint, and I was cramping, but I could feel myself gaining on them. So, I waited, waited, waited, and in the final 50 meters, I decided to come around. Holloway had the right side open at the line, so I just dove in there as fast as I could before he closed it, and I had a really good bike throw at the end."
Williams, who won the keirin and team pursuits at the 2007 USA Cycling Junior Track National Championships, gave his teammates credit for keeping him out of trouble.
"I've been really just learning this season," he added. "My team, I'm grateful they've put me in a lot of the big races and a lot of the big crit series. So, I've been trying to learn, and today I got my shot. I was the go-to guy, and I just used it to my advantage."
Pulling on the national champion's jersey was particularly sweet for Williams as last year, he crashed in the road race, cutting the back of his leg open and almost breaking his femur, rendering him unable to do the criterium.
In just her first year at road nationals, 21-year-old Beatriz Rodriguez, a former cyclo-cross racer, was elated to take the bunch sprint in the women's U23 criterium just ahead of second-placed Kacey Manderfield and Amara Boursaw.
Racing without teammates, Rodriguez said she was nervous when women from teams like Webcor Builders and Metro Volkswagen took control of the race early on, attacking and chasing down attacks for the majority of the 21 laps.
"I know a lot of them did the time trial yesterday and did very well," she said. "So the whole time they were attacking, I knew if they got the right make-up in a break, they could get away. And since I didn't have a team, I was nervous. I felt like I had to chase a lot of things."
She said she made herself wait patiently until they started easing up a bit as they attempted to set their riders up for the finish. And winning in her backyard - Fullerton is not far from Anaheim - was icing on the cake.
"I'm super excited," she said. "I couldn't stop smiling the whole lap around."
Eighteen-year-old Weston Luzzader became the new men's 17-18 criterium champion after becoming part of a successful four-man break with one lap to go in the 30-lap race. At the line, he outsprinted silver medalist Gavin Mannion and bronze winner Danny Finneran. The 17-18 event had the largest field of the day with 133 competitors.
The women's 17-18 event, with a field of 25, also ended in a bunch sprint after many unsuccessful attacks in the 12-lap race. The first two women across the line were the same two that crossed the line first last year as 18-year-old Sinead Miller took her second consecutive stars and stripes jersey and Missy Erickson earned her second silver medal. Anna Young followed close behind for the bronze.
Twelve-year-old Eduardo Lopez became the new men's 10-12 national champion in yet another race that ended in a bunch sprint. He crossed the line after nine laps just ahead of second place Teddy Kozlowski and third place Noah Granigan. Granigan stepped onto the podium for the second time in two days; he was second in the previous day's time trial. There were 48 young men in the field.
After narrowly taking second in Wednesday's junior women's 10-12 time trial, 2007 triple crown winner, 12-year-old Katrina Howard, climbed back onto the first spot on the podium in Thursday's criterium that had a field of 12. In addition to winning all of the prime sprints in the nine-lap race, she came across the final line 2.2 seconds ahead of silver medalist Marielena Banuelos and Dominique Shore.
Fourteen-year-old John Funk secured his second 2008 national champion's jersey when he took the bunch sprint in the junior men's 13-14 criterium ahead of second place Dominic Galenti IV and third place Drew Bercaw. A field of 57 completed 12 laps.
In the junior women's 13-14 event, 13-year-old Sarah Huang, who took silver in last year's 10-12 criterium, was crowned national champion after outsprinting a group of 10 riders that split from the field of 24 after a crash with six laps to go in the 12-lap race. For the second time in two days, Grace Alexander stood on the second podium spot - she won silver in Wednesday's time trial - and third place went to Alexis Ryan.
Sixteen-year-old Juan Carmona out-sprinted a field of 80 in the 15-lap junior men's 15-16 criterium. Cory Williams came across the line second, while Ryan Eastman took the bronze.
After making a successful solo break from a field of 19 riders with three laps out of 12 to go, 15-year-old Kendall Ryan came across the line to take the national championship in the junior women's 15-16 event, 8.3 seconds ahead of Jessica Prinner, who also soloed across the line. Kaitlin Antonneau took the field sprint for third. Both Antonneau and Prinner stood on the time trial podium the previous day in the second and third spots, respectively.
2008 USA Cycling Junior, U23 and Elite Road National Championships
Orange County, California: August 6-10
U23 Men's Criterium
1. Justin Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) 1:18:29.0
2. Jake Keough (Sandwich, Mass.) s.t.
3. Daniel Holloway (Morgan Hill, Calif.) s.t.
U23 Women's Criterium
1. Beatriz Rodriguez (Fullerton, Calif.) 54:42.8
2. Kacey Manderfield (Davisburg, Mich.) s.t.
3. Amara Boursaw (Stanwood, Wash.)
Junior Men's 17-18 Criterium
1. Weston Luzzader (Carmel, Ind.) 1:11:12.4
2. Gavin Mannion (Dedham, Mass.) s.t.
3. Danny Finneran (Oak Park, Calif.) s.t.
Junior Women's 17-18 Criterium
1. Sinead Miller (Pittsburgh, Pa.) 33:38.6
2. Missy Erickson (Alexandria, Minn.) s.t.
3. Anna Young (Madison, Wis.) s.t.
Junior Men's 15-16 Criterium
1. Juan Carmona (Breinigsville, Pa.) 35:40.9
2. Cory Williams (Los Angeles, Calif.) s.t.
3. Ryan Eastman (Petaluma, Calif.) s.t.
Junior Women's 15-16 Criterium
1. Kendall Ryan (Ventura, Calif.) 33:53.6
2. Jessica Prinner (South Elgin, Ill.) +0.08.3
3. Kaitlin Antonneau (Racine, Wis.) +0.21.4
Junior Men's 13-14 Criterium
1. John Funk (Topeka, Kan.) 32:27.2
2. Dominic Galenti IV (Pomona, Calif.) s.t.
3. Drew Bercaw (North Canton, Ohio) s.t.
Junior Women's 13-14 Criterium
1. Sarah Huang (Kenosha, Wis.) 36:18.6
2. Grace Alexander (Boise, Idaho) s.t.
3. Alexis Ryan (Ventura, Calif.) s.t.
Junior Men's 10-12 Criterium
1. Eduardo Lopez (El Paso, Tx.) 26:07.1
2. Teddy Kozlowski (Bridgewater, N.J.) s.t.
3. Noah Granigan (Cape May Court House, N.J.) s.t.
Junior Women's 10-12 Criterium
1. Katrina Howard (Fresno, Calif.) 31:24.00
2. Marielena Banuelos (El Paso, Tx.) +0.02.20
3. Dominique Shore (Alpharetta, Ga.) s.t.
For complete results with photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.
© BikeRadar & USA Cycling 2008