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In the six pro race podium ceremonies at Tulsa Tough, no one but L39ion of Los Angeles riders ever stood on the top step. And at weekend’s end, the overall women’s and men’s top step belong to L39ion, too.
On Sunday in the River Park Criterium, L39ion’s Skylar Schneider took the win with an all-in lead-out from Kendall Ryan. In the men’s race, it was workhorse Tyler Williams posting up for the W after blazing through the fast final corner up front.
Schneider and Cory Williams won their respective overall competitions.
The entire weekend was a show of force for L39ion of Los Angeles.
Indeed, even in the Cat. 1/2 race, Ama Nsek of L39ion won like he did on Friday, securing the overall title on the weekend with his brother Imeh Nsek in third overall. Had he not crashed Saturday, he could arguably have swept all three races in that category.
“Going for the omnium with Ama was something special,” said Imeh Nsek. “It’s not something that I expected coming into it; I expected more to lead him out and keep him safe. After the second day though, we checked the results and saw that Ama was still the the omnium lead. It was fantastic standing on the podium with my brother. We’ve worked really hard together and this is our first season doing some of the big races together. I am super proud to be there with him.”
Heat on Cry Baby
Sunday’s race featured Cry Baby Hill, a short but steep kicker where hundreds of fans partied in the sweltering heat. Fans dumped cold water on riders as they labored up the double-digit-gradient hill.
Also read: Why is it called Cry Baby Hill?
In both races, heat, gravity, and the relentless pace caused severe attrition.
In the women’s race, the front was down to about 25 riders in the final laps.
Schneider took a solo flyer for a couple of laps with about 10 laps to go. Once absorbed, she recovered and linked up with Ryan, who took to the front and drilled it over the top of Cry Baby.
On the downhill into the final corner, DNA’s Maggie Coles-Lyster came over Ryan and let it all hang out into the right-hander. Coles-Lyster stood up and sprinted for the line, but Ryan shepherded Schneider until about 200m to go, where the former Boels-Dolmans WorldTour rider lit it up for a winning margin comfortable enough to post up across the line.
Behind, her work done, Ryan celebrated with both hands up, not caring who passed her in the final meters.
Makayla MacPherson (Lux) took third.
The women’s overall on the weekend were Schneider, Ryan, and MacPherson.
The men’s event was déjà vu all over again, with L39ion patrolling the front all day, seemingly unfazed by attacks, the heat, or Cry Baby Hill.
With about 15 laps to go, Colin Strickland attacked, with various configurations of one to three riders joining him off the front for six laps until L39ion brought it all to heel.
In the waning laps, a few more solo riders made attempts, including Chris Riekert (Mike’s Bikes), Eric Marcotte (Best Buddies), and a Primal-Audi Denver rider.
With one lap to go L39ion took charge. Ty Magner pulled off atop Cry Baby, with Tyler Williams and Cory Williams separated by Clever Martinez (DCC) on the downhill into the final corner.
Tyler Williams held his advantage to the line, with Cory Williams celebrating in second right behind him. Martinez was third.
“The whole team had each other’s backs — the 1/2s, the girls, the guys. It was a momentum building through the whole weekend,” Tyler Williams said. “We just had to finish it off and the most amazing thing really was going into this race, we knew it would be the biggest thing we had to do the whole weekend and no one even thought twice, everyone had full commitment. The trust we had in each other was incredible. We watched the girls win and we knew we had the ability to do the same. Honestly I’m pretty stoked to win a race like this. Its probably the biggest victory of my career.”
The men’s overall was Cory Williams, Tyler Williams, and Martinez.
Team founder Justin Williams summed up the three days of racing succinctly: “Imagine the coolest situation you could do, then doing it. What a weekend!”