The last race of the 2011 Mass Ave Criterium was cut short by severe weather in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday, but not before defending champion Eric Young managed to take the win for a second year followed closely by Chad Burdzilauskas, another former MAC winner.
The Men's Pro/1/2 race began at 7:45 and was fast from the first lap, a trend that continued for more than an hour before officials decided to shorten it due to storms moving through Central Indiana.
Things stayed tight for much of the race with one group of five riders eliminated at around 30-minutes in, before they were in jeopardy of being lapped. That's pretty impressive, considering the group was so varied: local elite riders, pro riders and national elite squads.
Cyclists from Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, New Hampshire and even California were competing on the triangle course of road. There was one crash, also at around 30-minutes in, at the first turn, which eliminated only one rider.
A break of top riders typically gets ahead of the main field in crit races, including the MAC. This year, however, a large group of contenders including riders from Bissel, Panther, Texas Roadhouse and NUVO all danced around the lead for the entire race.
By 45 minutes down, most of the "primes" (cash or merchandise awarded for winning certain individual laps) had been sprinted for and Texas Roadhouse was dominating the front of the pack at this point.
A collection from the crowd produced a nice cash pot of $175, instantly followed by a second prime of $125. Panther and NUVO also had riders at the front: with each lap it seemed like the top riders were trading places.
Eric Young (Bissell) and Jon Jacobs (NUVO Cycling) were battling it out toward the end. But, as predicted at the start of the race, officials decided it necessary to cut things short; initially, they announced six laps left, and then almost instantly reduced it again, to three. But the storm moved in faster than expected, and they dropped it to one lap to go. Certainly this changed the strategy for some cyclists.
In that last crazy lap, with the skies dropping and darkness taking over (and trashcans blowing across the street), Eric Young (Bissel Pro Cycling) took first, followed very closely by Kirk Albers (Panther Cycling), Chad Burdzilauskas (Texas Roadhouse Cycling), Jonathan Jacob (NUVO), and Weston Luzadder (Jamis/Sutter-Home).
It was a frantic end to a very competitive race; the energy was high and the fans loved every bit of this intense and shortened sprint to the finish.
2011 Mass Ave Criterium results (Men's Pro/1/2)
1. Eric Young (Bissell)
2. Kirk Albers (Panther)
3. Chad Burdzilauskas (Texas Roadhouse)
4. Jon Jacob (NUVO)
5. Weston Luzadder (Jamis/Sutter-Home)