July 23, 2009

Surprise at Racine's criterium: an American wins!

'Round and 'round they went. Eighty-three of the fastest cyclists in the world sped around Downtown's figure eight course in a tight peloton, competing Thursday evening in the Racine.org Criterium, a stop on the Superweek Pro Tour, a leg of the International Cycling Classic. The race was brought here, for the second year in a row, by the Racine County Convention and Visitors Bureau. RCCVB president Dave Blank said the organization paid about $17,000 to bring the race here and to stage it. "It's a great way to showcase Racine," he said.

Tomorrow, the racers go to Kenosha, and then to Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay.

The race up Main Street, down Wisconsin Avenue, with a brief circle on Lake Avenue, State and Third Streets took slightly more than two hours, as the cyclists marked off 88 laps. And when it was all over there was a big surprise: an American won! Brad Huff of Springfield, MO, who was 15th overall so far on the tour, was one of six cyclists fighting for the lead -- and sprinted to victory on the final lap.

Before today, Huff's best performances on this year's tour had been a 7th in Hales Corners on July 20; 11th in Richton Park, IL, on July 13; 23rd at Arlington Heights on July 14; and 19th in Milwaukee on July 22.

Second place today went to Ricardo Van Der Velde of the Netherlands; third place to Ronnie Strange of Houston.

Jay Thomson of South Africa won the sprint champion's red jacket; the yellow leader's jacket was retained by the overall leader in this year's event, Bernard Solzberger of Australia.

Announcer's leaderboard toward the end of the race
Racine Police Sgt. Rick Toeller aimed radar gun at the leaders; here 23 mph
Racer gets a massage in the parking lot
Dave Blank of the RCCVB, far left, with Racine's winners:
L-R, Van Der Velde, Huff, Strange, Thomson and Solzberger

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