Kendall Ryan wins Crystal Cup for third straight year

Kendall and Alexis Ryan go 1-2 as Marlies Mejias completes the podium.

Photo: Douglas Graham. Provided for by the Armed Forces Classic

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L39ion of Los Angeles finished 1-2 with sisters Kendall and Alexis Ryan taking the top spots on the podium after 60 minutes of racing. Kendall Ryan had catapulted herself after a smooth lead out by Alexis, out-sprinting the field in her stars and stripes national champion jersey in Arlington, Virginia. Her victory at the Crystal Cup marks the third time in a row for the American criterium champion after winning the previous two editions in 2019 and 2021. Marlies Mejias of Team Twenty24 rounded the podium in third.

L39ion jumped with 5 laps to go, positioning their train at the front of the field. Following a move in the final turn by Twenty24’s Jennifer Valente, L39ion quickly responded, jumping onto her wheel as Kendall used the momentum to slingshot her way to finish with a gap on the line.

“It was earlier than what we had planned, everyone just had this gut feeling that we should line it up early to make the race safe and keep it fast,” Kendall said at the finish. The race had seen a couple of crashes in the back of the field in the final few laps. None of the contending teams were effected.

“For me, it’s nice because I don’t have to worry about a bunch of traffic, trying to get through. When they’re going hard on the front, it makes my job a lot easier. Team Twenty24 punched around us on the final corner, Jennifer [Valente] did a really nice move so I was yelling at Alexis – ‘up, up, up!’ We ended up dialing in right behind her. I shot for the cleanest, smoothest line I could to avoid all the pot-holes to go as hard as I could down to the line.

“It’s really special winning here in DC in the national jersey. It’s probably the coolest feeling, everyone looking at you in awe at the American jersey. In 2019, I won both races, it would be special to win both in the American jersey,” Kendall added.

The 1.2km, six-corner course for the Crystal Cup made it difficult for a break to escape. Mexican track specialist, Jessica Bonilla of CWA Racing had been in the mix, trying her hand in a solo flyer shortly before the finish to earn her the Most Heroic jersey at the end of the day.

DNA Pro Cycling had fought hard, sharing work alongside L39ion to help shut down any attempts at a breakaway. The heavy favorite, Maggie Coles-Lyster, was sitting on her teammates wheel, Mia Mangenello-Kilburg, with 4 to go but was unable to make her way around the L39ion train. She finished just off the podium in fourth, with disappointment written on her face. The Canadian sprinter will surely use the frustration to help push her in Sunday’s 50km race, in hopes of defending her 2021 omnium win.

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