L39ION of Los Angeles put on a clinic at the women's 2022 US Pro Criterium Championships with defending champion Kendall Ryan (L39ION of Los Angeles) winning the bunch sprint ahead of teammates Skyler Schneider and sister Alexis Ryan.
"I'm just really proud of my team today," Ryan said. "They gave everything for me. So this win is this for them. I wish they could all wear the jersey with me. So yeah, it was super special win today. I know the sweet spot, of course, and you had to win that right-hand corner. Everybody else knows that too. So was a real challenge for us today to take over the race and capture the win."
Up the hill and around the final bend there was no question that Ryan would once again claim the stars and stripes as she came to the line several meters ahead of her teammates with ample time to post up and celebrate for a second year in a row.
"We have a lot of trust and confidence in each other," Skyler Schneider said. "I think everything's coming together right now at the perfect time. We've had a few months racing together, and we've been quite successful, but we've also lost some races. I think we've learned a lot from the races. We learned and applied all of that today."
The mood was tense, the temperatures unpleasant and the humidity heavy in the air as the pro women's field took the start on June 24th, the same day that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade rocked the peloton. Many riders chose to take a knee during the national anthem to protest, a statement spearheaded by Alexis Ryan and Heidi Franz (Instafund).
"I care a lot about these things," Franz said. "I care a lot about standing up for ourselves and standing up for other people. And I had it in my gut that I wanted to do something. So I just reached out to other people as well to see what their feelings were as well. And my teammate Maddy (Ward) told me that one of the pro men's racers had reached out to her and asked if we were organizing anything for our field, so I just felt like we really should do something."
When the 70-minute criterium got underway, it was strung out from the start, with Coryn Labecki (Team Jumbo Visma) taking the reins early on and attempting several moves. However, the decorated multi-time national champion was closely marked.
At the halfway point, riders started to drop off under the fast pace set by the EF Education TIBCO SVB and DNA Pro Cycling teams but wasn't until four laps to go that a move finally saw some daylight. Lisa Cordova (Live Play Real Estate), winner of the Redlands Classic criterium, earned herself some distance but it all came back together when L39ION ramped up the pace to set Kendall Ryan up for the finale. From then on, it was never a question who would take home the gold.
Stars and Stripes but no champagne for 19-year-old repeat champ, Luke Lamperti
All eyes were on defending champion Luke Lamperti (Trinity Racing) after the women's race wrapped. The 19-year-old was under pressure to repeat his breakout performance from the previous year, and he didn't disappoint.
Even without any teammates Lamperti was able to best the L39ION and Best Buddies powerhouse teams and flew around the final corner clear of his challengers to take home the stars and stripes for the second year running. Gavin Hoover (L39ION) finished second and Scott McGill (Wildlife Pro Cycling) took third.
"You have a little bit more knowledge coming back a second year and how it plays out," Lamperti said. "I think you have to come out of that last corner ideally in first. And with two guys off the front, it kind of came down to the two bigger teams Best Buddies and L39ION to bring it back, so there can be benefits riding by yourself. When you win something, you always want to go back and win it the next year. So it was definitely a goal."
Lamperti was the first to test his legs early in the race but was brought back almost instantly by the 91-rider field. Then, Cooper Johnson (Aevolo) countered and held his advantage for a few laps before five riders bridged across to join him. From then on, speeds were high and no rider was committed to make the next move until the midway point, when the next ripple of attacks started, and Kaler Marshall (Expeditors Elite Cycling Team), Riley Sheehan (Premier Tech U23 Cycling Project) and Ethan Moyer of Rio Grande Elite Cycling Team gained a few seconds before eventually being reabsorbed.
The most dangerous move happened with just ten laps remaining, when Will Hardin (Project Echelon) popped off the front and Aevolo's Cooper Johnson bridged up to join him. The duo stayed away until two laps to go when L39ION and Best Buddies started their lead-out trains determined to bring the race down to a sprint.
However, it was Lamperti who came out on top, taking the perfect line around the final bend - a carbon copy of 2021 - to celebrate his second gold at the US Pro Nationals.
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A former pro, Clara Beard has been rooted in the cycling scene for more than 20 years. After working as a newspaper reporter for several years, her love of the sport prompted a full-time return as a journalist in 2011. Since then, Clara has reported on more bike races than she can count, both domestic and international.
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