Skujins, Amialiusik earn victories in Winston-Salem

Europeans stand on the top steps of the podium following Sunday's road race in North Carolina

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

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A pair of Europeans raced to victories at the Winston-Salem Cycling Classic over the weekend in North Carolina.

Latvian Toms Skujins (Hincapie Racing Team) won the 112-mile men’s road race, which consisted of 14 laps on an 8-mile loop. Slovenian Jure Kocjan (SmartStop) finished 12 seconds back in second, while Australian Joe Lewis (Hincapie) claimed third.

Skujins attacked before a decisive climb with two laps remaining and then rode solo the rest of the way to the finish line.

“Once you attack you for sure know who’s got the legs and who does not,” Skujins said in a press release from the race. “So when I went, nobody followed. I just kept it going.”

The victory was a special one for Hincapie sport director Thomas Craven, who is from the Winston-Salem area.

“I do consider Winston-Salem my hometown, so we wanted to win one for the team, for myself and for everybody else,” Craven said. “I grew up racing here, and racing on these roads, so it’s great to bring this victory home for us.”

Hincapie’s Mackenzie Brennan, who was in a three-man breakaway that formed halfway through the race, won the sprint and king of the mountains competitions.

In the women’s race, Alena Amialiusik (Velocio-SRAM) of Belarus jumped ahead of the field with another rider as the 64-mile race entered the final lap. Amialiusik made her winning move on the final ascent of the Brookstown climb, dropping American Amber Neben (Visit Dallas Cycling-Noice4Good) en route to victory.

Neben was able to hang on for second place at six seconds back, with Winston-Salem’s Lauren Komanski (Twenty16-Sho-Air) finishing 12 seconds behind Amialiusik in third.

“I tried and it was a good, successful attack, and if not, I know I’m stronger in the sprint,” said Amialiusik, the current national road race and time trial champion of Belarus.

“I have a wonderful team. Strong teammates. We had really good tactics. We worked together [Saturday] and [Sunday].”

Komanski spoke of finishing on the podium in front of family and friends.

“This is my hometown,” Komanski said. “My family’s here, my husband’s here, a bunch of my friends are here. Everyone was all over the course. Lots of familiar faces and familiar roads, so this is incredible. It was a lot of fun.”

On Saturday, UnitedHealthcare riders earned the men’s and women’s titles in the professional criterium in downtown Winston-Salem, with Brad White and Alexis Ryan lapping both of their fields to win.

In the men’s race, Dion Smith (Hincapie) took second and Gavin Mannion (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) was third.

Ryan earned the women’s title ahead of Loren Rowney (Velocio) and Joanne Hogan (Tibco-SVB).

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