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WEST CHESTER, Pa. (VN) — Bruno Langlois (Garneau-Quebecor-Norton Rose) secured a win at his very first Iron Hill Twilight Criterium on Saturday in one of the fastest races of the 2012 USA CRITS series.
Langois, a two-time medalist at the Canadian national championships, skillfully bided his time before getting the better of Rudy Project Racing’s Christian Grasmann. Grasmann’s teammate Marcel Kalz finished third.
“I’ve never ridden the Iron Hill before, so the first lap was pretty interesting, but it gave me a feel for how to ride the rest of the race,” Langlois said. “It became easier to plan attacks.”
After a thunderstorm temporarily delayed racing, the men’s field got off to a dramatically fast start. A quarter of the field was pulled in the first 20 minutes — and despite the considerable thinning of the pack, no one team had control of the race.
“It was really hard tonight all night,” said Travis Livermon (Team Mountain Khakis-SmartStop), who finished fourth. “The pace was high.
“There’s a really bad whip here, so if you’re not in the front 20 guys, then the acceleration of the course is really hard. It’s almost easier to stay at the front and stay active, because you’re going hard you’re contributing to the race instead of going hard to maintain your position and handle the whip.”
The blistering pace apparently wasn’t too much for Grasmann, who attacked after a prime and stayed away solo for 20 laps. At one point the German rider had a lead of more than 22 seconds over the field.
With 16 laps remaining left, Livermon, Ty Magner (BMC-Hincapie Development Team) and Rafael Meran (CRCA-Foundation) began a chase. But it was Kyle Wamsley (Jamis-Sutter Home) who wound up doing the lion’s share of the work, putting in a three-lap pull that changed the dynamics of the finale by bringing Grasmann within striking distance.
At this point Langois sensed an opportunity.
“I’m not a sprinter, so I wanted to go in the breakaway,” he said. “I had tried some attacks earlier in the race, but not until four laps to go did I see that the peloton was getting tired.
“I timed my attack, I think, at the right moment. I passed the (group) at a high speed so that no one could take my wheel. It worked and I went full gas. I bridged the gap … and with a lap and a half to go I (decided) to gamble and wait for the sprint.”
The Canadian’s legs were fresh enough, and with 400 meters to go he made his move.
“It’s a long way, but I knew he was tired and I don’t think he really tried to follow me. He was pretty fried,” said Langois. “I had one shot and played my cards right.”
The idea of a twilight race is really invigorating to Langlois.
“I like riding twilights. It’s a great feeling to be pushing so hard with a bunch of people on the sidelines cheering you on,” Langlois said with a chuckle. “That excitement definitely encourages me to attack more often and finish in the front.”
Langois, who is the only amateur rider to be selected for this year’sCanadian Olympic squad, will focus next on August’s Tour Cycliste International de la Guadeloupe.
Langois’s win did not affect the overall standings in the men’s USA CRITS series. Luke Keough (Team Mountain Khakis) and Oscar Clark (United Healthcare of Georgia-The 706 Project) still occupy the top two positions. But Emile Abraham (Rossetti Devo) did unseat Colin Jaskiewicz (Champion System-Stan’s NoTubes-CRCA) with only two events remaining.
In the women’s pro-am race held earlier in the evening, New Zealand teenager Sophie Williamson (NZ National Team) upset some of the most elite women in the cycling world.
After constant attacks Williamson and Kate Veronneau (Pure Energy) managed to free themselves of the field along with only 20 laps remaining. Eight laps later their gap had grown to 40 seconds. The pair worked increasingly well together and with just one lap remaining, they had come within 27 seconds of lapping the field.
In the two-up sprint, however, Williamson was able to edge out her breakaway companion.
“I rode this last year when I came over to train for world track, so I knew the course,” Williamson said after the race. “Last year there was a break and it stayed away so I was pretty keen to get into it this year. I just attacked and am pretty stoked at the results.”
The 18-year-old rider is in the United States once again to train for the UCI Junior Track World Championships on her home turf in Invercargill August 22-26.
The women’s standings in the USA CRITS Series also remain unchanged with Erica Allar (RideClean-PatentIt.com) in the lead and Debbie Milne (Absolute Racing) and Colleen Gulick (Pure Energy Cycling) in second and third, respectively.
The USA CRITS Championship Series now heads to Boise for the Exergy Twilight Criterium on July 14.
Race note: Allar was controversially relegated from third to sixth place at Iron Hill after she allegedly threw a bottle during the final three laps of racing.