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Kendall Ryan (Tibco-SVB) escaped a last-lap pileup to win the women’s USA Cycling Pro Criterium National Championship on Saturday.
The 90-minute race was run in warm conditions in downtown Greenville, South Carolina, on a narrow, rectangular 1-mile course with a downhill dash to the line.
There were a couple of crashes early on as the 55-rider field settled down to work, with UnitedHealthcare patrolling the front on behalf of defending champion Coryn Rivera.
With 33 laps to go 2011 road champ Robin Farina (BMW-Happy Tooth) had a go. If she was hoping that someone would join her, she would be disappointed — the field seemed content to let her dangle just a few seconds off the front, working up a nice sweat in the 75-degree temperatures.
Colavita-Bianchi and Pepper Palace came forward with 27 laps remaining, and a lap later Farina was back in the bunch while UHC resumed control at the front.
First Pepper Palace, then Colavita moved up and tried pushing the pace. Jessica Prinner (Colavita) edged off the front with 22 laps to go, but she didn’t stay out there long.
With 20 to go, nearly an hour into the race, the field was trimming itself down and despite a flurry of escape attempts it seemed a breakaway was not in the cards.
Lindsay Bayer (Pepper Palace) had a dig, but Lauren Tamayo (UHC) quickly marked her. Then Amanda Miller (Pepper Palace) tried her luck, but no soap.
With 12 laps remaining it was all together. And then, suddenly, a three-woman break took off with nine to go, including Miller (Pepper Palace), Alexis Ryan (UHC) and Lauren Stephens (Tibco).
In the bunch, Tina Pic (Pepper Palace) was marking Rivera as UHC massed at the front some seven seconds down.
Without Ryan lending a hand, the break was doomed, and it all came back together with six to go.
A couple laps later Tibco sent Stephens up the road again and UHC led the chase.
UHC was breathing down Stephens’ neck in short order, though, and the catch came with just over two laps to race.
Erica Aller (Colavita) was lurking near the front, as was Samantha Schneider (ISCorp) So, too, was Rivera, parked on the back of the UHC train.
Bell lap: With a field sprint in the offing UHC had three riders on the sharp end of the bunch — and then boom, the Blue Train derailed in the final corner, the leadout rider sliding out and Erica Allar (Colavita), Rivera, and Ruth Winder (UHC) all hitting the deck.
Ryan stayed upright and took the win ahead of Pic with Brianna Waller (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) third.