Cycling action comes to Clay County roads

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 6/30/21

CLAY COUNTY - The rain was an obstacle, but the races went on as nearly 700 of the best cyclists in America converged on Clay County last week for the 2021 USA Cycling Amateur National Championships; …

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Cycling action comes to Clay County roads

Posted

CLAY COUNTY - The rain was an obstacle, but the races went on as nearly 700 of the best cyclists in America converged on Clay County last week for the 2021 USA Cycling Amateur National Championships; held three days in and around Camp Blanding and one day in the middle of Fleming Island across the street from Fleming Island High School.

“This was our second weekend of bicycle racing in Clay County (October Great America Road Race) and we are improving the staging, the courses and the fan participation each time,” said Joel Lamp, head of Airstreams Ventures, the race logistics host along with USA Cycling. “We continue to have conversations with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Commissioner to try and find the best locations in the county to put this level of competition on while encouraging local communities to embrace and participate.”

With the cyclists enduring stifling humidity, driving rainstorms and fast riders from around the United States, the competition never relented as most of the races were determined within the final mile of all races.

“The weather here is interesting,” said Alyssa Sarkisov, 14, of Maryland, who edged DC DEVO teammate Lidia Cusack by just 10 seconds to win the 13-14 national title in the time trial over a 10K (6.2 miles)course staged off Treat Road on the Keystone Heights side of Camp Blanding. “The course was not very hilly, but the heat and rain made it fun.”

As the racing continued on Friday, Cusack reversed the order of finish with her teammate by winning the road race by three minutes over Sarkisov.

In the criterium, Sarkisov finished third to winner Veronica Scott of Boise, Idaho, with Cusack fifth.

Cyclists, ironically, mirrored the ongoing Tour De France formats (minus massive mountain climbs) with a time trials (solo race against the clock; 10K (6.2 miles) to 32K (19.88 miles), a road race (3-9 road loops on 19.6K (12.1Miles) onthe Camp Blanding grounds and along Highway 16 and a final criterium (closed loop course of .77 miles with a specified time of racing (20-75 minutes) and a final five lap countdown to the finish) giving race fans a glimpse of the next generation of possible professional and Olympic racers from the United States.

One other aggressive racer that ultimately earned a first national title was the 15-15 women’s road race featuring a 12.9 mile loop around Camp Blanding that races did up to nine laps with a series of gradual hills, the continued heat and humidity and the Florida-staple afternoon thunderstorms.

In the women’s 15-16 road race, Maive Wimbush, of the Team Twenty24 Devo cycling team, waited until the final 25 yards of her 36 mile road race to win in a photo finish with five other cyclists.

“I am still shook right now,” said Wimbush, 15, of Maryland, who stole her first national title with the road win. “The road race is not my best race, but I eventually got away by myself from everyone in the middle. Lilly McLeod, my teammate (Brooksville, FL), just won the time trial yesterday and we figured she would be stronger than the pack today, but they got bunched up in the middle of the straighaway.”

McLeod and Wimbush would finish eighth and ninth in the criterium.

Two local riders with the Jacksonville-based Velobrew Racing Team; Ethan Courson, in the 11-12 age group, and Ashley Davis, in the 17-18 womens age group, competed and garnered top finishes with Courson winning the time trial national title by nine seconds, then taking sixth in the road race and fourth in criterium. Matthew Crabbe of Buford, GA, won the 11-12 road race and criterium.

Davis finished seventh in the time trial, 15th in the road race and eighth in the criterium.

In the mens pro cat 1 criterium, local triathlete and bike racer Owen Shott of Ponte Vedra Beach finished 10th in the 75 minute race.

In the mens Cat 1 road race and criterium, Daniel Estevez, of Coral Gables, won both races.

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