The Downtown Bloomington Criterium held this past Saturday, Aug. 5 has always been a favorite among cyclists because the finish line straddles Kirkwood Avenue, where hundreds of libation-augmented spectators congregate in the many well-known establishments. With a college town vibe, a raucous crowd and a mix of funk and jazz fusion blasting from the sound system, racers were on edge from the outset.
Although Texas Roadhouse held a commanding lead and the Bacardi/NUVO team sat securely in second place of the team series, the battle between Tortuga/Big Brothers and Dog Fish for the third and final spot in Saturday’s series-finale ensured a hotly contested race.
The Texas Roadhouse team attacked first and often, as would be expected from the top team in the region. An early break containing Mike Busa and Kevin Atkisson of Texas Roadhouse, Chad Burdzilauskus of Indiana Hand Center, John Kelly of Tortuga/Big Brothers and Hans Arneson of Dog Fish looked promising but the group was eventually reeled in.
Counting down to the finish, the crowd edged closer to the street to see Jerry Witham of Chiro Power attack with four laps remaining. When Witham was caught, Skiles Keith of Texas Roadhouse countered. Dangling off the front with two laps to go, Keith was secured as the final lap began and Texas Roadhouse stormed to the front at nearly 40 mph. Leading out of the final turn, Kevin Atkisson lit up Kirkwood Avenue to hold off a fast closing Burdzilauskus and punctuate the Texas Roadhouse series win with a big V in the finale. John Stevens of Team Barbasol crossed the line in third while Harry Clark emphasized the Roadhouse superiority by claiming fourth.
Tom Hanley of Bacardi/NUVO finished sixth to secure the team’s second place in the series. Team Tortuga edged Dog Fish in the series battle for third with John Kelly and Karim Abdelkader both finishing in the top 10.
2006 NUVO-Tortuga Team Series Final Standings
Texas Roadhouse 190
Tortuga/Big Brothers 120
Dogfish Cycling 90
Hand Center 56