In the U.S. racing scene, springtime brings stage races and summertime brings criteriums. For 2022, a new U.S. criterium series emerged, the American Criterium Cup, ACC for short, with livestreamed racing from across the country. The ten rounds of the series are existing premier events that’ve earned a place on everyone’s calendars and now knitted into a premier series supported in part by USA Cycling, the sport governing body.
Bommarito Audi Gateway Cup, the final round of the ACC series, is a must do series of criteriums held over the Labor Day weekend in early September. As these races have been held since 1985, the locals know the score in cycling terms. They support bike riders invading their city. The organizers are headed by one Mike Weiss, the founder and owner of area bikes shops called Big Shark. Mike and Co. have, in essence, trained the locals on cycling over the decades and these locals turn out in force. The effort Mike and his crew expend to run this seamless series of races is awe inspiring. Cycling needs more folks like Mike Weiss.
Spoiler alert: The final event of the national criterium series was the Giro Della Montagna, held on Sunday, where the women’s 2022 newly crowned series champion, Maggie Coles-Lyster of DNA Pro Cycling capped off a great season. Here’s Maggie, center, wearing the series leader’s jersey. She was no doubt thinking “all I gotta do is stay upright”.
Here’s Maggie blending in with the crowd after winning her championship. Notice her teammate Kim Lucie, who was on the deck two days previous, due to slick pavement.
A happier DNA Kim before Friday’s start, with the Grumpy Roxo DS author wiring up Roxo Hannah.
To back up our story, the four-race holiday weekend began Friday night with the Tour de Lafayette, a square .9 mile course surrounding Lafayette Park in St. Louis, not far from Gateway Arch National Park, bordering the Mississippi river. With rain in the forecast all weekend, the damp Friday course contributed to some drama in multiple races, including the premier women’s event. Here’s DNA Pro Cycling’s Kim, after her donation of skin to the cause.
Friday’s Lafayette victor was speedy Kaia Schmid of Human Powered Health, a U.S. based WorldTour team. Kaia is in orange, part way back, while Roxo Hannah leads.
It takes many puzzle pieces to field a cycling team, including equipment sponsors. We are fortunate to use eyewear from Rudy Project, with photochromic lenses to adjust to low light situations. Notice Sommers here, in the rain, with Kaia following. Sommers nabbed a hard-fought 11th on the evening.
Our Saturday criterium was a late afternoon affair in beautiful Francis Park, named after the organizer of the 1904 World’s Fair. Roxo Racing’s guest rider for the weekend, Jacqueline Larouche, a PhD candidate in Regenerative Medicine, received some sponsor correct love, bar tape and bottle cages for the occasion.
Jaqueline to the left, Hanna center, and Sommers on the right.
Our Saturday plan, in the event of a sprint showdown, was to go all in for Sommers.
The plan meant our riders, Hannah here, were to prevent the pace from slowing in the finale. If that happens and the pack swarms the front, mayhem ensues. Sprint mayhem is to be avoided when you have a strong closer like Sommers.
Our guest Jacqueline was unafraid to work for a teammate. She spent a good bit of time on or near the front during the weekend. A former kayak paddler, Jacqueline took to cycling and quickly rose to the top rank.
The problem with our brilliant plan was, everyone else also had a plan. Toward the finale, we watched a bunch of four wide racing. On the last lap, the grumpy DS heard the radio crackle “Sommers down!”, and multiple riders battling in close quarters crashed along with her.
The crash meant some tense moments for riders and staff to ascertain her condition and evaluate our next move. Other riders in the pile were less lucky. Later a trip for supplies to treat her wounds. Sommers would be in for a rough night, waking up each time she moved the wrong way. Cycling can be an uncaring bedfellow.
Day 3 was the final round of the American Criterium Cup on a course called the Giro Della Montagna, or “crit on the hill” in our parlance. The Italian is legit, as this historic neighborhood in St. Louis is the traditional enclave of Italian immigrants dating back to the 1800’s. Spoken Italian is as common as English. Baseball legends Yogi Berra and Joe Garagiola grew up here. It’s cool and the food is the best.
Michelle digging, throttle pinned wide-open in a difficult and slippery race that brought high attrition.
A local gentleman, arriving by bike to support the festivities.
Michelle still has the throttle pinned, following Kim Lucie, who’s riding for Coles-Lyster, who ultimately won the championship. Maggie won the series through durability, determination, teamwork, and a boatload of talent. Chapeau, Maggie!
Even with rain, the locals enjoy conversation, food, drink, and cycling.
Day four brought sunshine and smiles. Jacqueline was ready for the final race of the series, the Benton Park Classic. Benton was Missouri’s first Senator and his namesake park and locale border the Anheuser-Busch “campus”, a very large beer factory.
Like the day before, Larouche was in an attacking mood. With a talent laden field, other teams were willing to chase anything, which kept the selective race together.
Michelle at speed. Michelle’s racing is a family road trip affair with her husband, in-laws, kids, and dogs in tow.
Our photog Alex captured Michelle’s husband Brett, himself an accomplished racer, snapping pics of bike riders while managing the zoo.
Three to go and the sprint will soon wind up. Marlies Mejias Garcia of Virginia’s Blue Ridge TWENTY24 threaded her way forward to the sprint victory, as she had done the previous two days (!).
Roxo racing Gateway Cup signals the completion of our 2022 team event schedule. Early in the year we agreed to a list of races and our riders and staff earned a deserved break with time for recovery. A short time away from bike racing will rejuvenate the peloton, providing a reset for 2023. Roxo Racing will be back and 2023 can’t arrive soon enough.
Through the lens of our talented photog, Alex Roszko, we want to share our story.
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• This article courtesy of ArundelBike.com – proud sponsor of ROXO Racing.