Thursday May 10, The CashCall Mortgage Cycling Team headed to St. Louis, MO for 3 days of criterium racing. The Missouri Professional Cycling Series was part of the NCC (National Criterium Calendar) as well as the US Crit Champs Series. The event drew the top professional racers in the country and gave our 5 racers, Stefano Barberi, Anthony Canevari, Justin Williams, Michael Weicht and Lee Muse, a chance to race with the best.
After the weekend of racing, Justin Williams is now ranked 7th overall on the NCC points standings.
Team sprinter and lead-out man Anthony Canevari gave a rundown of his first time racing the event.
Friday May 11: Loop de Loop Grand Prix
With a 9:15pm race time, the riders were feeling a bit weird not having done a race in the dark since Boise Twilight 2011. Meal times and fuel intake became much more important since the race time was so much later than usual. The team did an early spin, relaxed and started checking out the course at 7:30pm.
From the gun, everyone was going nuts. The racers seemed to think it would be a breakaway course on the left hand turns with a slight rise. On the descent, it was pitch black with dips and bumps on the surface that the riders couldn’t see.
One of the turns had a bump in, where if you kept enough speed through the turn you would wash your front wheel out or catch some air going through the turn. The only place to move up was on the slight uphill and riders would surge into the last turn on the descent. So to say the least, paying attention was at an all-time high.
With 10 laps to go, a rider jammed it into the 3rd turn, pushing another rider onto me. I was able to get out of it without either of us going down and thought “phew, that was my close call for the race.”
With 3 laps to go, Stefano, Michael, Justin and I lined up at the front of the field. Director Paul Abrahams told us to relax a bit, as the field surged around the front of the peloton on the climb. Stefano, Michael, Justin and I got back to 30th position and it was time to get Justin back to the front of the field. Coming around with 2 laps to go, I punched it on the small hill with Lee and Stefano and Justin, all making our way back to the front.
Stefano and I were on one side, with Justin on the other side of the field. Unfortunately, a rider hit the barricade and Stefano was caught up with it. With the lack of light, I couldn’t see the crash and I didn’t even hear the crash and I ran right into it. I wanted to get up as fast as I could because I knew it was the last lap and the racers were going to be coming in hot. Justin managed to sprint to 6th place, with Lee 10th and Michael 13th. Stefano and I were out for the remainder of the weekend due to the injuries we sustained in the crash.
Saturday May 12: Tour de Grove
We knew that this race was going to come down to a sprint finish with UnitedHealthCare racing in force. As soon as they they went to the front with 3 laps to go, the break that was up the road was brought back quickly, and finish was a sprint. With the work of teammates Michael and Lee, Justin Williams placed 4th.
Sunday May 13: Dutchtown Classic
It seemed as if the breakaway was going to stick from the start of the race. The course suited the break well with a slight climb and eventually a break of 7 riders got away up the road without CashCall represented. Michael made a valiant attempt to bridge across, narrowly missing the break. In the end, Justin handedly won the field sprint for 8th place on the day.