The first Queen’s Day Criterium went off in professional style this morning, with the whole town’s attention turned on some absolutely amazing racing in the heart of Holland. A huge turnout, with most categories filled up to the limit, made the day exciting from start to finish.
The much anticipated showdown in the Men’s Elite race between BISSELL and Einstein Racing certainly lived up to the hype, as the two Michigan superpowers squared off almost man-to-man. The squads matched each other move for move right from the gun. BISSELL had the early upper hand when they put two riders up the road in a group that included Leadout’s Dan Korienek, Anthony Prentice and, watching patiently, Jason Young. The Einstein rider played the role of ticket collector while the team gather the troops to give chase. Tom Burke and Chris Fisher combined to close the gap, and the attacks kept coming.
The next move to really threaten the plans of the sprinters was Chris Fisher and Ben Whitehead’s foray forward. The duo had a gap that grew to a full 14”, sweeping up a prime and looking briefly to be the winning move. With both BISSELL and Einstein represented, there wasn’t a lot of riders willing to chase. It took a handful of loose attacks and sprinkled efforts to eventually claw them back with about four laps to go.
After John Leach made an effort to pull back a flying Adam York, Jason Young and Tom Burke came to the front with hometown hero Ryan Cross in the queue ready to strike. Burke lead the entire last lap before pulling off in the final stretch. BISSELL was in close contact and leapt to the far side of the ride with the bunch spilling wide across the road. Nathan Williams was much too strong, flying across on Cross’ right in the sprint. Hot on his heels, Jordan Diekema also pulled level with Cross with just a few meters to the line. Williams took the win, and Diekema was good enough to give BISSELL a convincing 1-2 on the podium.
In the first full-strength showdown, BISSELL keeps above the field, though Einstein finally offered up stiff resistance for the first time as a full team. The ‘galacticos’ experiment appears to be working, and they’ll have time to gel heading into the summer. BISSELL certainly has the edge, with perhaps the most talented group of riders ever assembled.
The Women’s Elite race featured a big field packed with solid riders. It was a exhibition for the Grand Rapids squads with no Einstein or Hagerty racers on hand, and they put on a show. Real Women Tri threw in the full weight of the team, with Jane Van Hof putting in a team-best 3rd place behind two very strong riders. Sarah Demerly bowed into second place behind the on-form Janelle Cole. Cole is a crit master, and should be looking to take a state championship in the discipline mid-June at the Cherry-Roubaix.
Queen’s Day Criterium is the first road race on the Top Banana Competition program this year, which means the standings will be shaken, not stirred, ahead of Mud, Sweat and Beers next weekend. Nathan Williams should be moving up, and with none of the top contenders starting at Queen’s Day, the women’s rankings will be topsy-turvy.
Special nod to New Holland Brewery Cycling Team on hosting the event along with team sponsors Velo City Cycles, Tidal Nine Events and the whole crew. Alex Yingling was 12th in CAT 5, with Tyson Smith going for a top ten before flatting out with a lap to go. Superstud Tessa Perez continued on her collegiate racing success with 3rd in Women’s CAT 4, taking home a wooden clog trophy for the squad. Katie Hamel held down the fort in 4s with a 15th place after a great race at the Willow Time Trial yesterday.