Into the Lion’s Den postponed until 2023

Event organizer Justin Williams says he is prioritizing his and his L39ION team's resources and energy on community building events.

Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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The Into the Lion’s Den powered by SRAM criterium has been shelved until 2023, according to L39ION of Los Angeles founder Justin Williams. 

“After much contemplation, I’ve decided to postpone Into the Lion’s Den until 2023,” Williams said on his Instagram page earlier this week. “I only have so much energy, and I’ve decided to focus on my goal of building community; I’m prioritizing L39ION’s event resources to produce an additional junior day camp, community rides, and outreach programming.”

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The October 1 event, held in downtown Sacramento, California, would have been its second year. The invite-only criterium offered an equal payout for pro men and women totaling $100,000, making it the most lucrative prize purse in U.S. criterium history.

Last year, Justin Williams won the pro men’s event ahead of Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing). Williams’s brother Cory took third place. 

Rally Cycling’s Olivia Ray took the win in the women’s race ahead of L39ION’s Kendall Ryan. Amy Pieters (Team SD Worx) was third. 

The event was met with some controversy five weeks after its conclusion when Ray took to Twitter asking when she could expect her race winnings. The query caused an internet maelstrom between L39ION, Ray’s sponsors and the criterium community as a whole. L39ION stated the money was slower to arrive than expected — the event was quickly put together, resulting in some cash flow issues with sponsors. Ray later issued an apology on Instagram, stating she was sorry for “damaging the name of not only the @in2thelionsden event but also heavily disheartened by the backlash it has caused @l39ionla, a team I have the utmost respect for.”

L39ION of Los Angeles will compete at the American Criterium Cup’s Intelligentsia Cup in Chicago this weekend, while Justin and his brother Cory are in Birmingham, England, for the Commonwealth Games. The Williams brothers are on the books to represent Belize in the road race.

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