Last Saturday’s predicted rains gave way to lazy cumulus clouds in Louisville, providing just enough shade to make for near-perfect bike racing conditions. With big money on the line for the featured pro-am event, teams from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Georgia, North Carolina and Missouri joined teams from Kentucky in the first of the five-race NUVO/Bacardi and Tortuga/ Big Brothers Criterium series.

Staged along the Ohio River in Louisville’s Waterfront Park, the technical, eight-turn course demanded speed and skill, a combination clearly deficient among the one-third of the field who were eliminated in the first 15 minutes of the scorching, 75-minute race.

The Abercrombie and Fitch (AF) team from Ohio and the host squad, Texas Roadhouse (TRH) from Louisville, blitzkrieged the rest of the field from the start, pushing the pace above 30 mph with an onslaught of individual and combination attacks, leaving nothing but carnage in their wake.

After 45 minutes of racing, approximately one half of the 65-rider field remained on the course. AF and TRH continued trading blows that wore down the remaining survivors. Approaching the 55-minute mark, Rich Harper of AF soloed off the front. A group of eight riders, including three from TRH and two more AF riders, quickly bridged the gap, setting the stage for a nine-man showdown in the final laps.

With two laps to go, however, two riders (one from TRH) blew gaskets and fell off the pace. With three riders among the select seven, AF capitalized by vaulting Harper to a convincing sprint win. Harry Clark and Jeff Braumberger, both of TRH, finished second and third, respectively. AF and TRH both punctuated their dominance by each placing four riders in the top 20. The next race in the series is the Downtown Carmel Criterium on Saturday, June 24.

2006 Team Series Results:

Race No. 1; Louisville Crit

1: Rich Harper, Infernal Racing, 20 points

2: Harry Clark, Texas Roadhouse, 19 points

3: Jeff Braumberger, Texas Roadhouse, 18 points

4: Patrick Weddell, Endeavor Cycling, 17 points

5: Tim Swain, Inferno Cycling, 16 points

Team standings

Texas Roadhouse: 58 points

Inferno Racing: 55 points

Capitol Cycling Club: 27 points

Endeavor: 17 points

Mercy Cycling Team: 13 points

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