By Travis McCabe (Elbowz)
Tulsa Tough is a race that a lot of racers look forward to each year, and this year was no exception. I think it is safe to say that Tulsa Tough is our favorite race of the year, and with Eric winning on Cry Baby Hill last year we were coming into the race with high expectations. I was excited to have a full squad, since it would be the first NCC series where we would have everyone. After racing the Parx Casino Philly Cycling Classic, we all knew how much firepower we had and we were wanting to show it off the crowd. We all knew how difficult it would be to line up against United Healthcare and take on such a powerful and efficient team, but we were up to the challenge and confident in each other’s abilities.
Friday night’s race around the Blue Dome district in downtown Tulsa tends to tell the same tale each year. It’s a blazing-fast, 8-corner course that ends with a sprint finish. Our plan was to try and initiate a breakaway, forcing UHC to work off a couple of their guys, and then, with 1.5 laps to go, try to jump their train and have Eric lead me out into the sprint. Of course, racing is always easier said than done. We stayed quite active throughout the race, grabbing the major primes trying to initiate a breakaway, which we eventually did. It was a solo break by one of our Liwi strongmen, Logan Hutchings. Having one guy off the front was great for coverage for the team, but it didn’t quite put any fear into UHC.
It became evident that the rest of the field was content with fighting for each other’s wheels behind the UHC train instead of playing some other cards. When so many people are fighting for only a few wheels the race becomes very dangerous, and this race proved no different. Crashes were consistent throughout the one-hour race with the game changer coming with 3 laps to go. On the 2nd corner someone pushed his luck just a little too far and what seemed like half the field went down. Caught in the crash were 3 of my teammates, leaving only Eric (who was one of the last riders to make it) and me to fend for ourselves. The next two laps were so fast that it was difficult to make up any ground. I was content with sitting top 10 and finished 9th in the sprint with Eric 23rd. UHC once again swept the podium.
After Friday night’s race it was apparent that no teams wanted to initiate a serious breakaway, so we took it into our own hands to make the race as hard as we could. Our plan was to launch at least 2 guys in any move and save me for the sprint if it came down to it. Right away, a group of four men were off the front with one of them containing team captain Heath Blackgrove. Shortly after, two more bridged across. This time we had our breakaway specialist Eric Marcotte joining Heath in the break. It was only a matter of 10-15 minutes before it was just the two of them working together to stay away. The two of them quickly established a 40-second gap on the field and were able to sustain the space for the majority of the race. Even when the gap was at 40 seconds there were multiple attacks from the other amateur teams who were dismally trying to bridge across, instead of sitting back and forcing United to work and bring the two back. Once United organized at the front, it took them multiple laps before a dent was put into the 40-second gap of Eric and Heath. At one lap reading the two had only 28 seconds, but within a few more laps the gap was back up to 32 seconds. For those few laps there was hope that they might stick it, or at least wear United down enough to the point where there would be a chance to jump what was left of them at the end. Then, for reasons unknown, another team came to the front to assist UHC. Instead of four men working to bring back the two, there was 6-7. Our chances went out the window at that point and I was in position and preparing for the field sprint. Eric and Heath’s brave attempt to steal a victory was crushed with 4 laps to go and the fight to sit behind the Blue Train was on. On the last lap, I managed to latch onto one of the UHC riders’ wheel and I was sitting 6th position. Unfortunately, a gap opened up into the last corner and I was forced to sprint to hold 5th place.
The team was a little disappointed by the outcome of the race, but we were also grateful to become fan favorites at Tulsa and we were now even more determined to place on the podium at Sunday’s marquee event. Again, the plan from the start was to race aggressively and initiate a break, ideally saving me and Eric for the end. But with the energy of the crowd, I became a little too excited and attacked the field, bringing along only one other rider. We worked together smoothly until 3 more bridged across. With 5 of us working together we began to gain time on the field. Primes began to be thrown our way, which created a bit of chaos in the break and eventually we lost the three that bridged across. With only two of us left and less than 8 laps to go, we did our best to stay off the front and I tried to grab as many crowd primes as I could on top of Cry Baby Hill. It was only 6 bucks, but it was the most rewarding $6.00 I have ever received! We were brought back in by the blue train once again with 4 laps to go, so I did what I could to recover and found Eric and the rest of the team as quickly as I could. Coming into the final climb up Cry Baby Hill, I knew Eric was on my wheel, so I gave it whatever I had left to get up and over the climb, dropping him off onto Karl Menzies’ wheel. I left it up to him to fight for position from there. I fell back and tried to just follow wheels so I could still finish in the money. Eric finally broke the podium sweep of UHC and finished 3rd. I finished 9th and ended up 5th in the omnium.
At the end of this weekend I think we are all happy with our results and grateful that we were all able to keep the rubber on the pavement…well, except for Andres Diaz, he managed to crash on the climb up Cry Baby Hill! (amateur move!) Hats off to United Health Care. Those guys are truly professional racers and have criterium racing down to a “t”. We had such an amazing time in Tulsa, on and off the bikes, that we are all looking forward to racing it again in 2014! By far my favorite race of the year thus far!
Tyler Schwartz (Get Crack’in)
The St. Francis Tulsa Tough started with the flat and fast Blue Dome District Criterium. The race started a bit sketchy, but soon everyone got a handle on himself. In the 1/2’s we had Erik Volotzky, Collin Berry, Connor McCutcheon, and me racing. We immediately began shooting attacks left and right, but with no success. Connor and I kept attacking every few laps to see if we could score a break with someone who would be willing to do some work, but it didn’t happen. I decided, around five laps to go, to sit in and give it a hard attack when there were two laps remaining, but with three to go I flatted going around turn four, putting me out of the race. The team was pretty spread out throughout the pack and couldn’t get in formation to lead out Erik, yet he still sprinted to an impressive 7th place. [Read more…]
By Christina Gokey-Smith
I knew the St. Francis Tulsa Tough was going to be hard, with the Now team sure to want a break. They had strong riders Robin Farina, Devon Gorry, and ever-so-powerful Alison Powers. We had some of the best sprinters’ teams looking to be a part of a sprint: national criterium champ Theresa Cliff-Ryan’s team (Fearless Femme), Primal, Colavita, Care4Cycling. This was an omnium and being consistent was the name of the game.
Friday’s Blue Dome District Criterium started off fast and aggressive. I could hear wrecks behind me. I remained calm and tried to focus on the task at hand. It was a war zone out there. I knew to stay towards the front and be ready to go with any threatening moves. They called for the big-$ prime, over a thousand dollars. Alison Powers made her way off the front, establishing a gap. That would quickly get brought back, so we were ready for a sprint finish. With 5 laps to go, a Colombian Specialized rider took off the front. She couldn’t stay there and the race came back together again.
My goal was to get to the front and come through the final corners first. Alison Powers drilled it down the descent. My legs felt so fried. I was doing all I could to be there. Alison came out of the final corner first, with Jackie Crowell (Exergy) and me on the inside. Theresa Cliff-Ryan, with Erica Allar on her wheel, came through on the outside. Erica crashed! Her bike went flying forward and took Alison Powers out. I barely missed Allison’s bike. It was definitely a distraction on my sprint. I held on for 3rd. Theresa won. Jackie Crowell got second.
At the Brady District race, the pace started off fast with multiple attacks. I caught myself too far back and missed some early moves. I felt completely over-worked throughout the race. Alison Powers took a move and it seemed she was going to make it to the end. However, at one lap to go, Kimber Wells (Fearless Femme) got on the front and drilled the pace until the climb by SoundPony. I used that moment to get up out of the saddle to come towards the front before the descent. The pace was high. I started to move up on the descent coming on the inside. It was a tight fit, rubbing shoulders with Amy Mcquire (FCS) before the final turn. I was too far back . The pack swallowed up Alison Powers and we sprinted for the line. I couldn’t quite close the gap quickly enough and ended up in 6th.
I was still sitting in 3rd overall for Cry Baby Hill.
It was hard, as usual, with attacks and short-lived breaks. With the amazing crowds, this is what keeps me going. As usually the top contenders for the overall tend to watch each other, it seemed that the top riders were looking for opportunities to get away. Jackie Crowell took a move. Theresa was there to follow along with the pack all strung out. I looked for opportunities myself to get away. Kim Jennings (Jubilee) attacked as they called a $100 prime. I decided to make a move on the top and I found myself off the front with Farina chasing and grabbing the prime. I thought we could stay off, but no. Alison Powers got away with about 12 laps remaining and had a team mate with her. Allison would soon solo away for the win. Going into one lap to go, I got towards the front up the climb and Kelly Fisher (Fearless Femme) was on the front picking up the pace at the top. I came around Kelly before the descent and decided to go for it. I felt someone on the inside and I stood out of the saddle to sprint down the hill. Last year, I crashed in the final corner taking it too hot, so I wanted to come out first but safe. I set up for the corner safely as Jen Purcell (Colavita) came on the inside, hot, and made it out of the corner. I started my sprint and got nipped at the line by Jennifer Prinn (Care4). I ended up in 4th and lost my overall by one point. Regardless, I had such an amazing time racing. Best of all, I kept it up all weekend!
Thank you, Tulsa Tough!! Thanks to Rouse Bicycles, Oogie Racing Wheels, Go T Strong.com, Colonel’s Bicycles, No Opportunity Wasted Energy Bar, Rock Tape, The Finish Line Therapy Center, Smith & Associates, Ees Cosmetics, Terra Firma Racing, All-Around Realty, Kim Chance Personal Training, an Cycle Smith Coaching.
by Theresa Cliff-Ryan
Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy Cycling – VIE13 headed to the famous Tulsa Tough with a small but fearless team. We wanted to support a race that supports women. These guys have done an amazing job offering equal podium pay for women and men. So, the Fearless line up was Kelly ‘Flex’ Fisher-Goodwin, Kimberley ‘Thunda’ Wells, and me (Comet). Our goal was domination!
Day 1: Great result after disaster. It was NOT Thunda’s day as she hit the deck HARD not once but twice. She was in the pit with a bent derailleur and they were taking more time than what she wanted, apparently she was FIRMLY saying, “Give me that bike” and pointing to a spare. They eventually got the hanger straightened and back into the race she went. She cannot be stopped. For the finish, Flex took over with 1 lap to go, stringing out the field, catching 2 girls that were slightly off the front, and continuing to nail it until the back straight. This is where Alison Powers jumped and I jumped on her. I let her wheel go slightly on the 2nd-to-last straight and started running at it through the last corner. I jumped to the right and somehow snuck up the gutter to win the first day. Thunda was able to get her banged up bike and body across the line in 9th. Great team effort getting us our first win of the 3-day event.
Day 2: One of the team effort highlights of my career. Hard day on tap with a tailwind uphill and headwind downhill making for a no-recovery course. Now and Novartis were on a mission to get away. Attack after attack after attack. Since they had 6 girls and we only had 2.5 (Thunda was a bit sore from her 2 crashes the night before), it made for a hard day. We covered and went on as many attacks as we could and then Alison launched what was nearl the nail in the coffin. She got away with about 7 laps to go. There were a few attempts to chase her back but coming down to 2 laps to go I thought she was gone and we would be sprinting for 2nd. But then, enter the Fearless Femmes! Flex and Thunda were absolutely amazing, they gave everything they had, completely leveling themselves and timing the catch to perfection. Textbook teamwork. I launched my sprint just before the last corner, catching Alison with 50m to go and winning an exciting race. I did the one arm salute over the line, and then double posting up a special salute for the 509th Bomb Wing Unit…..the B2. This team, this race, the work these girls did to secure the win is why there should be a ‘team’ podium. This is not an individual sport. This is a team sport.
Day 3: The famous Cry Baby Hill! After looking at the course when we got there, we knew we would have to chose to defend our overall or chase everything to try to win the race with the possibility of popping and losing the overall. This was definitely not a great course for a sprinter . Cry Baby Hill is no joke especially after having to do it for an hour-long crit! So our goal was to defend the jersey and that is what we did. I positioned myself on Jackie Crowell (Exergy TWENTY16), the only one that could knock us off the top step. I just want to say sorry to Jackie for tailgating her the whole race! The girls again were amazing, chasing and covering the breaks we needed to to keep the overall for Fearless Femme. Congrats to Alison and the Now and Novartis team for a crushing ride taking the win on day three.
I just want to say that I have heard amazing things about Tulsa Tough over the years and that is just not enough. They are in a league of their own. Equal podium pay, amazing crowds, amazing atmosphere, etc. I could go on and on. This is definitely one of the best experiences of my life. I can’t believe it took me this long to get my butt there. Thank you Shawn and the whole Tulsa Tough crew for letting us Fearless Femmes join in the fun!
Women – Pro/Cat 1/2
Place Points Name City, State Time USAC # Bib Team
1 56.55 Alison POWERS Pinecliffe, CO 98704 34 NOW and Novartis for MS
2 57.66 Jennifer PURCELL Austin, TX 193628 56 Team Colavita Fine Cooking
3 58.78 Jessica PRINNER (1 – Cat1) South Elgin, IL 225342 3 CARE4CYCLING p/b Solomon Corp
4 59.89 Christina GOKEY-SMITH Denton, TX 217750 50 ROUSE/OOGIE RACING
5 61.01 Jacquelyn CROWELL (1 – Pro) Maitland, FL 185441 10 Exergy TWENTY16
6 62.12 Theresa CLIFF-RYAN Cedar Springs, MI 231296 16 Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy
7 63.24 Liza RACHETTO Los Altos, CA 145511 69 Vanderkitten
Tulsa Tough – Brady District Crit
While day two at Tulsa Tough used a new course, the results were strikingly similar to the previous night, as racers converged on Tulsa’s Brady District. The counterclockwise L-shaped course encircled Guthrie Green Park, and featured a fast downhill left-hand turn onto the finishing straight. The race competed with the nearby Minor League baseball game for spectators, but fans were out in force, packing Main St outside of the Yeti Saloon.
In the women’s race, the field lined up for 60 minutes of racing, with several key players sporting bandages from a crash during the previous day’s finish. Primal and Colavita animated the race in the early going, but a suitable group never formed, and the field remained together after 35 minutes of racing. NOW & Novartis replicated their prime savvy from Friday, picking up most of the cash prizes on offer, and in a moment of déjà vu, sent Alison Powers on the attack for the $1500 crowd prime.
A moment of hesitation from the field stretched Powers’ advantage out to 12 seconds, where it remained until the final two laps, as Colavita and Fearless Femme p/b Pure Energy headed up the chasing effort. On the final lap, with Powers’ advantage dwindling, Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Fearless Femme) jumped ahead of the final corner, leading Erica Allar (Care4Cycling) and Jacqueline Crowell (Exergy TWENTY16) onto the finishing straight with Powers just ahead. The trio overtook a fast-fading Powers in the final 20 meters, with Crowell coming around Allar to take 2nd behind Cliff-Ryan. Powers held on to 9th place. Cliff-Ryan retains a strong lead in the weekend omnium going into Sunday’s Riverside Parks race.
The men’s pro field set out for 80 minutes of racing, with most teams looking for a chink in the armor of a dominant UnitedHealthcare. Attacking began from the gun, with Cash Call, ELBOWZ, and Texas Roadhouse sending riders up the road. Aware of UHC’s ability to sit on and neutralize any breakaway, few teams were willing to commit if a member of the blue train was present. After 30 minutes of racing, Eric Marcotte and teammate Heath Blackgrove (ELBOWZ) managed to establish a small advantage without a UHC rider in tow.
As the strong pair’s advantage grew to 35 seconds, the rest of the field looked to UHC to control the pace. Proving that their success doesn’t rely on conserving their energy until the closing laps, the Pro Continental team took to the front, slowly reeling in the escapees. After the pair was caught with 10 laps remaining, the race unfolded as it did the previous night, with UHC driving the pace and other teams fighting for the wheels of their sprinting trio. Hilton Clarke led teammates Luke Keough, Carlos Alzate, and Karl Menzies through the final corner, and the three replicated yesterday’s podium exactly. Adam Leibovitz (Texas Roadhouse) and Travis McCabe (ELBOWZ) rounded out the top 5.
By Colin Gibson
All images contained within the pages of CI may not be used for ANY purposes what so ever without the written permission of CI and the photographer and are protected under copyright law. Enjoy
Springfield Cardinals -0
Tulsa Drillers-3 Drillers Win It!
1. Luke Keough (UHC)
2. Carlos Alzate (UHC)
3. Karl Menzies (UHC)
1. Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Fearless Femme)
2.Jacquelyn Crowell (Exergy Twent16)
3. Erica Allar (Care4Cycling)
More Images Soon:
Tulsa Tough kicked off on Friday night with the McNellie’s Group criterium, held in Tulsa’s Blue Dome district. With a rapidly expanding bar and restaurant scene, Blue Dome proved an ideal venue for spectators, who were packed three-deep on the finishing straight of the short counterclockwise figure-eight course.
In the Women’s race, large teams from Primal, Colavita, and NOW/Novartis controlled the early action. Despite aggression from several teams, no move gained more than a few seconds. The field remained together for the several cash primes throughout the race, which were dominated by NOW/Novartis teammates Alison Powers, Robin Farina, and Alexis Ryan. A number of strong sprinters with few or no teammates, including NCC series leader Erica Allar and US Criterium champion Theresa Cliff-Ryan, conserved their energy near the front of the field.
With other teams seemingly satisfied with the prospect of a bunch finish, Powers attacked with 10 laps to go, picking up a $1000 prime and building a small advantage on the field. The accomplished time trialist triggered a quick reaction from Colavita and Fearles Femme p/b Pure Energy, who reeled her in, setting the group up for the sprint. On the final lap coming out of the last corner, a crash took down Powers and Allar, along with several other riders. Cliff-Ryan managed to avoid the pileup, and took the win by several bike lengths over Jackie Crowell (Exergy TWENTY16) and Christina Gokey-Smith (Rouse/Oogie Racing).
The men’s race started under darkness, with full teams from UnitedHealthcare, Jelly Belly, Elbowz, Cash Call, and Texas Roadhouse animating the race early on. Having won nearly every NCC event they have participated in this year with their trademark blue leadout train, UHC took a take-it-or-leave-it approach to breakaway attempts, covering moves without committing.
Tactics and a fast course kept the field together throughout the race, and the fireworks began with five laps to go—literally. The race organizers included pyrotechnics in the evening’s festivities, coinciding roughly with UHC massing at the front to lift the pace. A large crash in turn two with three laps remaining strung out the remainder of the field, who could only hold onto the wheel in front as UHC drove the pace for the final laps. Karl Menzies (UHC) led teammates Luke Keough and Carlos Alzate out of the final corner with a gap on the rest of the field, and the only remaining question was the order in which the three would sweep the podium. Keough first, Alzate second, Menzies third.
by Colin Gibson
All images contained within the pages of CI may not be used for ANY purposes what so ever without the written permission of CI and the photographer and are protected under copyright law. Enjoy
Mens Pro Results:
Saint Francis Tulsa Tough 2012 (Title Sponsor: Saint Francis Health Systems)
Traveling from Southern California to Tulsa, Oklahoma is an event in and of itself, never-mind spending a weekend among thousands of enthusiastic, and somewhat intoxicated, ok, heavily intoxicated cycling fanatics! It was a weekend to be remembered and that is an understatement.
The annual Tulsa Tough is one of the most anticipated races of the season, and the 2012 Saint Francis Tulsa Tough did not disappoint. Historically, it has been highly regarded as a fast-paced, energetic, spectator-friendly race, and attracts many of the top ranked pros (and fans) each year. As a USA Cycling highlighted event, all three-race days received a spot in the National Criterium Calendar. One of the events that separated The Tulsa Tough race weekend from any other race weekend was the back to back GranFondo rides which covered more than 200 miles of road, and allowed riders of all levels to join in the fun. They also hosted a Townie Ride which was an 8-mile loop with a short cut for those who only wanted to ride 5 miles (Tiny Townie). The Executive Committee really seemed to go out of their way to get the whole city involved and interested in the sport of Cycling. In addition to the great community race events, Tulsa Tough is known for their Cry Baby Hill race, which is arguably the most infamous event of the weekend. I quickly learned why this particular race commands so much attention, and will likely find all future criteriums slightly boring. [Read more…]
Racing Tulsa Tough
By John Abate
It’s 5:20 AM as I tip toe into the kitchen, dim on the lights and begin my day. Quiet just enough now, so as to not wake up the two snoring dachshunds piled on top of each another inside their crates. Sure wish I could catch up on more sleep after a long week of training and racing.
Immediately on the launch pad is a fresh pot of coffee steaming and gurgling to life and I’m cooking the usual breakfast of whole what and blueberry pancakes.
Sitting at my kitchen counter, hovered over a short stack and a hot cup of coffee now, a pang of excitement rushes over me, as I’m about to catch a 9 am flight to Tulsa, Oklahoma!