Pro Racing Brings Excitement to Junior Nationals Week
This week’s edition of the World Series of Bicycling was one of the most unique events on this season’s schedule. The USA Cycling Juniors Track National Championships were run in conjunction with the traditional Friday night professional racing in Trexlertown, Pa. The top junior riders in the country had a great opportunity to race alongside the professional riders and learn from watching a field of international talent and the Valley Preferred Cycling Center was able to show a new generation of riders the allure of T-town.
Local rider Matt Baranoski knew how influential racing with the professionals could be for a young rider. He advised them to “Enjoy it. There are 2000 people watching you, you’re a pro for the night. You will be on the infield rubbing elbows with real professionals. If you have questions, just ask them. Most of the riders are willing to help you out.”
Pro Men: The pro men’s racing got off to a fast start with the Super Sprint Elimination. The Germans went to the front and strung the field out throughout the whole race, but Dylan Kennett from New Zealand outpaced them to take the win over Marcel Kalz and Patrick Kos.
The next event for the pro-men was the Flying Mile Record Attempt. The field seemed to have a good chance of breaking the record, which was set in 2004 by Jame Carney, due to the strength of the field which was bolstered by the German team and New Zealand National Team. They got off to a great organized start and it seemed that the record may fall. However, at the midway point the field became disorganized for a moment and was never able to regain their momentum and missed the record by a mere six seconds. Kennett scored his second win of the night by outsprinting compatriots Hamish Schrears and Tom Beadle.
The men then competed in a 30 lap points race. The pace was high from the beginning and the field slowly thinned out as riders decided to drop out of the competition. When points were offered with 15 to go Marcel Kalz, Robert Bengsch, Hamish Schrears, and Patrick Kos began to animate the race when they distanced themselves from the field. By the next sprint lap the group was caught by Kennett, who dragged the field with him. Coming into the last sprint, the Germans teamed up with Bengsch and Kalz taking the first and second place points, and Kennett rolling in for third. That was enough to score Kennett another overall win and Kalz another second place finish.
The men finished off the night with a 10 kilometer scratch race. The pace was quick, keeping the field strung out single file for a majority of the race. The first major move of the night came when Bengsch broke away with 14 laps to go. Liam Aitcheson wasn’t content to let the German get away, so he moved to the front to close the gap and the field was all in one piece coming into the final 10 laps. With five to go the Germans made a move that seemed like it would stick consisting of Bengsch, Kalz, and Patrick Kos. The Kiwis tried to reel in the break, but to no avail. Kalz took his only win of the night followed by Kennett and Robert Bengsch.
The German team consisting of Christian Grazman, Marcel Kalz, Hannes Baumgarten, and Robert Bengsch bid “Auf wiedersehen” to Valley Preferred Cycling Center after the evening’s competition. Baumgarten loved his time in T-Town, “It’s such a great atmosphere here. We love and appreciate to be welcomed here so warmly.”
Grazman promised he would be making another trip to the Lehigh Valley. “You don’t know what you have here. It is so centered with the university [Kutztown University, where the team was housed] and the track all in one area. There are few parts of the world with 50 nights of track racing and a road circuit, like you have here,” Grazman said, “This is my third time in Trexlertown and I just can’t get enough. I will definitely be back in the future.”
Pro Women: The first event for the women was a 10 lap scratch race. The field gained depth with the New Zealand Junior National Team. The Kiwis set the pace and managed to hang on to help Racquel Sheath snag the win over Alysha Keith and Sophie Williamson.
The women’s program continued with an elimination event. The Kiwis slowly eliminated the locals, with Gulick staying in the longest to pull off a fifth place finish. Elizabeth Steel led out the sprint from turn two, with Junior World Medalist Sophie Williamson narrowly edging her out for the win.
In the women’s keirin, Gulick jumped behind the motorcycle from the get-go. Melissa Garcia and Steel were locked in battle for the second position. Once the motor pulled off, Anna Young hit the gas inciting a charge from the field. Gulick and Garcia were neck and neck heading into one to go, but Gulick turned on the after burners to pull away. However, she couldn’t hold off a hard charging Mary Costelloe who took the win followed by Kiwis Alysha Keith and Steel.
For their final race of the night the women competed in a 12 lap points race. Costelloe won the first sprint and continued her winning ways throughout the event to be the first American to win a race in the women’s field during the night. She was followed by Williamson in second and Gulick in third.
Book Event: Spectators were treated to a question and answer session with Marty Nothstein, executive director of the Valley Preferred Cycling Center to promote his new memoir, The Price of Gold: The Toll and The Triumph of One Man’s Olympic Dream. He was joined on stage by his long time coach and mentor Gil Hatton and up and coming sprinter Matt Baranoski. Nothstein credited Hatton with discovering him through the Air Products Developmental Cycling Program, “Gil was my first real coach, he encouraged me to stay in the sport. He saw that I had the speed and brashness to be successful. We ended up traveling the world together; he was my right hand man.”
Baranoski spoke about the unique opportunity riders at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center are offered to be able to meet and train with their role models, “In soccer your coach is just one of the kids’ dads, in T-town you get to work directly with real athletes. Marty runs the place and he is here every day. You wouldn’t be able to have this kind of relationship anywhere else.”
Next Week: The World Series of Bicycling returns to action next Friday, July 20, with the Festival of Speed. Tickets start at just $5 and kids 12 and under are free.
By Elspeth Huyett
Photo by Anthony Skorochod of Cycling Captured
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