Arlington, VA - The 2010 Air Force Cycling Classic concluded this past Sunday with the Crystal City Circuit Race. Jacob Keough led a United Healthcare presented by Maxxis sweep of the day's podium, and subsequently a sweep of the two-day event with newly acquired Hilton Clarke taking the Clarendon Cup the day before, while Robin Farina (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) dominated the women's race.
With the schedule reversed on Sunday, the men kicked off the professional races in Crystal City. Approximately midway through the event, a two-man break involving Jake Rytlewski (below; Kenda presented by Geargrinder) and Kelly Benefit Strategies' Evan Fader built up a substantial gap as the two looked to steal the show from the sprinters. However, some massive efforts by the United Healthcare presented by Maxxis boys pulled the break back with a few laps to go and set the stage for a bunch sprint.
In the finale, it was all United Healthcare presented by Maxxis. Keough took the victory over his Australian teammates, Hilton Clarke and Karl Menzies, respectively.
Men's Results - Crystal City
1. Jacob Keough (United Healthcare presented by Maxxis)
2. Hilton Clarke (United Healthcare presented by Maxxis)
3. Karl Menzies (United Healthcare presented by Maxxis)
4. Ben Kersten (Fly V australia)
5. Alexey Schmidt (Team Type 1)
At the larger, more prestigious races, the motorcycles that carry photographers around, or photo motos, are usually reserved for the more experienced and well-known photographers such as Graham Watson, Tim de Waele, Casey B. Gibson, and the like. But at the 2010 Air Force Cycling Classic, I was given the opportunity to try out my skills in cycling photography's rendition of the run-and-shoot.
Admittedly, I had my reservations. While the frequency in which motos hit the pavement is not extremely high, the crashes are certainly memorable. In addition, I was not exactly toting the best photography equipment for the job at hand.
Nonetheless, I took to the streets of Crystal City with a man I simply knew as John, who marshaled me around the course looking after both my personal and professional best interests.
From a cycling fan's view point, rolling around on a moto was as close as you could get without actually being in the race and suffering on the pedals. As a photographer, once I got adjusted to the mechanics of shooting on the fly, the perspectives of the race and riders simply outweighed any risks associated with placing your well being completely in the hands of the person directly in front of you.
If you are ever lucky, or good enough to take in a race on a moto, as Ferri Bueller once said, "I highly recommend it."
Much like the men's race the day before, the women's race in Crystal City was dominated by a breakaway. Robin Farina was the main instigator on the day as the Team Vera Bradley Foundation rider searched relentlessly to find the right combination of riders to get off the front. After several failed attempts, the combination of Farina, Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci presented by Cooking Light) and local rider Erin Sillman (Fruit 66) was finally able to get up the road.
With little to no reaction from the field, the trio was able to build a substantial gap in a matter of few minutes. The elastic finally snapped with approximately 15 minutes left in the 60 minute race as the field seemed to resign themselves to contest a bunch sprint for fourth place.
On the line, Farina proved the strongest of the bunch as she easily took the win over Cheatley and an equally jubilant Sillman, who finished in third.
Women's Results - Crystal City
1. Robin Farina (Team Vera Bradley Foundation)
2. Cath Cheatley (Colavita/Baci presented by Cooking Light)
3. Erin Sillman (Fruit 66)
4. Sarah Caravella (Team CARD)
5. Erica Allar (Team Vera Bradley Foundation)
Some time ago, I was asked by one of the riders whom I was interviewing for some ideas of how to raise interest in women's cycling. I naively suggested that on occasion, promoters should switch up the race day schedule to allow the women to headline the event rather than continually being the opening act for the men; my premise being that the usual throng of people there to see the men's race would provide as close to a captive audience as the women could get. And once the fans saw the actual product, and the level of the riders and racing, a fan base of women's cycling would slowly but surely be built.
With the race schedule switched up at Crystal City, I had the opportunity to observe firsthand how my premise might play out. While my observations are completely unscientific and ad hoc at best, I have to say that my thoughts were completely unfounded.
When I initially presented my idea to the small group of riders, their greatest fear was summed up by the simple statement, "what if everyone leaves?"
This past Sunday, that fear was for the most part realized. It was as if the crowd was the air in a balloon which all of sudden had an avenue to escape once the men's race was done.
For those that proclaim themselves true cycling fans, it was a sad indictment. While for the women who participate week in and week out at these events nationwide, and even worldwide, it speaks volumes to your commitment and true love of a sport that so many claim to adore as much as you.
Photos: © Leonard Basobas/LB Photos
See more photos from the Clarendon Cup in our Photo Gallery.