Despite the presence of the UCI 1.2 Chrono Kristin Armstrong individual time trial, the highlight of the three-day festival of racing in Boise, Idaho, will most certainly be Saturday night’s ASWB Twilight Criterium, the sixth race in the 11-race USA CRITS series.
The 2018 race is the 32nd year of criterium racing in downtown Boise, making it one of the oldest events on the U.S. racing calendar. The new three-event format has made Boise the centre of bike racing in the U.S. this weekend. The time trial gets things started on Friday, Saturday’s criterium will bring the community together for a large festival in downtown Boise, and Sunday’s road race finishes off a fantastic weekend of racing.
While the pro racers may produce the fastest laps of the course, the most entraining event of the Twilight Criterium will most likely be the Boise GreenBike races. Men and women take to the course on Boise’s bike-share bikes and awards are given to the top three, last place, and, of course, best costume.
A wide-open course
After an extremely narrow and technical course a week ago in Bentonville, Arkansas, the riders will contest a classic American-style course in Boise. The four-corner clockwise circuit is wide open. The roads are large and the corners are fast, so there won’t be much need for the brakes.
The openness of the course will make it much easier to move up through the peloton than in Bentonville, where riders were forced to take some of the corners single file due to the course’s narrow streets. The constant reshuffling that will occur due to riders always looking to move to the front of the peloton should make for exciting races that are hard for any one team to control.
The course is under a kilometre long, with lap times around a minute for the pro men. The start and finish line is right in front of the steps of the State Capitol and the course goes around Cecil D. Andrus Park where the massive festival is taking place. Leading out of the final corner might just be the place to be for this race, as the finish line is only 200 metres away.
It is a good thing the pro races are in the evening in Boise, as the mercury will be touching close to 100F (37C) during the day on Saturday. However, despite the late time slot for the pro races (pro women start at 7:00 p.m. and pro men start at 8:15 p.m.), we won’t see much racing under the lights. Sunset isn’t until about 9:30 p.m. this time of year and it stays light for a fair while after the sun disappears. It is interesting to note, there is a high pollen alert for the area, so it remains to be seen if any of the competitors will have allergy issues.
Series leader Samantha Schneider and her powerful ISCorp squad have opted not to travel to Boise. Rachel Langdon (Gray Goat Mobile-Bullseye Total Media), who sits second overall and leads the CyclingTips Lap Leader classification, will not be at the race either.
These notable absences open the door for riders to make up considerable ground in the race for the orange leader’s jersey. Barring disaster, Tine Pic (Colavita-Bialetti) should come out of the race as the new series leader. She currently sits third overall, 121 points behind Schneider.
METEOR-Intelligentsia’s Jessica Mundy is eighth overall at the moment and looks to make a considerable jump in the standings. She’s got a cagey sprint, so look for her in the finale, though she will only have one teammate racing alongside her.
Newly crowned U.S. national criterium champion Leigh Ann Ganzar (Wolfpack-Hyperthreads) jumped six places in the overall standings last weekend after a strong race. She’s just outside the top 10, in 11th, and could very much come out of the race as the winner, as she’ll be starting with a strong team behind her.
Hagens Berman-Supermint brings a full six-rider squad to Boise with the dynamic duo of Lily Williams and Harriet Owen highlighting the team. The squad is incredibly deep with sprinter Peta Mullens and breakaway specialist Starla Teddergreen also lining up. The strength of the team will give the team the ability to constantly send riders off the front of the peloton, so look for Hagens Berman-Supermint to take the race into their own hands and not watch for other teams to attack first.
Interestingly, the Twenty20 team will be racing. The team mainly focuses on stage races, but don’t count them out, as their roster is full of strong riders such as Chloe Dygert-Owen. She is a time-trial specialist and a world champion on the track — she has the engine to make a breakaway stick whether she is with anyone else or it’s simply a solo move.
The men’s race will see a mix of stage race teams and USA CRITS teams going head-to-head.
David “Gutt” Guttenplan (Support Clean Sport-Guttenplan Coaching) will be in the orange leader’s jersey; expect an aggressive race from him with the hard-hitting sprint squad of UnitedHealthcare in attendance.
Johnny Mitchell (Palmetto State) sits third overall, but will be racing without any teammates on Saturday. It’ll be interesting to see his strategy — will he follow attacks, or gamble and wait for a sprint finish?
ButcherBox rider Spencer Moavenzadeh is emerging as a threat to the overall title after a strong last few races. He leads the U25 classification and sits second overall in the series standings. Moavenzadeh has been steadily moving up the standings on the back of an aggressive style of racing like Guttenplan. He chases points during the race through the mid-race point sprints and by leading laps. Watch for him to possibly link up with Guttenplan during the race in a breakaway.
Team Clif Bar came out swinging in Bentonville and they nearly pulled off the victory with Kevin Mullervy finishing third. Mullervy sits fourth in the overall standings with his teammate Zach Allison just behind him in fifth. The squad has a much-improved lead-out train this year, so it will be interesting to see how they do against the likes of UnitedHealthcare.
UnitedHealthcare will essentially fill the void of the absent Holowesko-Citadel team. The Pro Continental squad has no shortage of depth and a breakaway has little to no chance of surviving without a UnitedHealthcare rider present. Furthermore, the “blue train” has the power to string the field out in the final laps of the race and prevent anyone from making a last-ditch attack.
Race coverage begins on usacrits.tv at 4:45 p.m. EST on Saturday with the amateur races, before the pro women take to the start line at 9:00 p.m. EST. The pro men’s race begins at 10:15 p.m. EST.
— USA CRITS Series (@USACRITS) July 11, 2018