Old Pueblo Crit by Luke Keough (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling)
The 2013 US season kicked off with the Old Pueblo Crit in Tucson, AZ. Being the first NCC and USA crit of the year, and the first US race for our team, we knew that the pressure was on. The tension was high with an energetic crowd and an equally antsy field. With call ups over the stage set, the whistle blew.
The race started fast, everyone wanted to test their legs after a long off-season. Attacks began from the gun and primes were happening lap after lap; the speed escalated. The entire Team was covering every move. Just before the half way point, there was a big crash in the second turn and I was caught right in it. With nowhere to go, I hit the barriers at full speed with nothing but my arm and shoulder. After assessing the damage to both the bike and me, I hobbled my way to the pit. It took a lap or two to decide if I could and/or should continue. When it’s race time there is little decision, so back in the fight I went. Just after getting back in the race, the most dangerous move of the night went up the road; it was the Trio that would put us to the test. With a less than conservative effort, the boys road for the last half of the race. They continued riding the front keeping the break in check and eventually cutting the time down. Coming down to the wire they finished off the move at three laps to go. And this is when, in my eyes anyway, the race began. With the guys absolutely smoked from riding down the break they started the final wind up. We were a man short, riding with only five guys instead of our planned six, so the laps were out lasting our final pulls. Coming through the bell with one lap to go everything went into slow motion. The shadows became clear, the breathing disappeared, and every breeze was felt. This lap was the fastest of the night and was the hardest anyone pushed any of the turns. Everyone pushed the limits of both man and machine, taking risks to get the win. We finally came through the last two turns going full speed, and I hit it as soon as we straightened up. Feeling the finish line is something you cant explain but it’s like a magnet and it pulls you in. Head down, legs burning I crossed the line first. In a bit of shock and complete excitement, it hit me, I had won. It was an amazing race with a strong and aggressive field of riders. The entire team had to work hard for the win, and it was just another example of the teamwork involved in racing. The old Pueblo Crit was a great kick-off for the US season; it will be a long and exciting one for sure!! Follow the along as the insanity that is Crit racing unfolds!