Defending criterium national champion Eric Marcotte said on Thursday he won’t compete at the Volkswagen USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championships on Sunday.
The 36-year-old’s team, Team Jamis p/b Sutter Home, currently isn’t signed up either.
“I am not going to be racing,” Marcotte said, citing “that whole doctor running a clinic thing,” as the reason.
Jamis team manager Sebastian Alexandre said this year the course doesn’t suit him that well. He also pointed out that the team members are mostly climbers and not U.S.-criterium racers; Lucas Sebastián Haedo is from Argentina.
“It looks like it is a different course than last year,” Marcotte said. “More corners and a little longer loop.”
That made Redlands the last time this year that Marcotte, a chiropractor in Scottsdale, Ariz., will wear his national championship jersey.
McCabe on fire
Although he won’t be in the mix, Marcotte said his former teammate Travis McCabe (Holowesko Citadel p/b Hincapie Racing) is his pick. McCabe, 27, who won the first Pro Road Tour crit of the year at Sunny King in Alabama, was in a good position to win the crit at the Redlands Classic last weekend, but crashed on the final turn of the last lap. He then won the road race the following day.
“He’s got the teammates, and he has the finish,” Marcotte said.
Marcotte said to look for a good race overall.
“Daniel [Holloway] is really, really good, so he’s on the podium for sure,” Marcotte said. “I’m not sure who else is on the start list, but there will be a few that will make it a good race.”
Holloway: Crit winning machine
Holloway, a former speedskater and criterium-winning machine, is also a favorite for the race. He has won several national titles in track and criterium racing, including a 2014 national crit championship.
The 29-year-old who lives in Boulder, Colo., said it could be anyone’s race since it is so early in the season.
“I think everyone racing is a bit in the dark on what to expect,” Holloway said. “With it being so early it’s hard to tell where my form is, along with how the peloton’s overall strength is.”
But he agreed that McCabe and his team has “shown incredible form” and said, “we know [UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling] and what they are capable of.”
Holloway said it’s a long race on a tough circuit and the game plan for is team is to race as smart as they can. On how he has manufactured win after win in crits, Holloway said:
“The secret is to have more fun than anyone, have confidence in your equipment choices and preparation,” Holloway said. “So many guys are mentally out of it before the start. If you do the work, believe in your preparation and have a good night’s sleep, you’re on your way to some results.”
Mesa, Ariz.’s Danny Eaton (UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling), 23, who has been competing in road races across the world including in Qatar and Taiwan, will make an appearance at crit nationals with his team.
Eaton, who doesn’t normally race crits, said he doesn’t have expectations for an individual result for himself.
“We have a really strong team with probably one of the best field sprinters in the world with John Murphy,” Eaton said. “My job will be just making sure he has the best opportunity to win.”
Eaton added his thoughts on the race: “Don’t crash, don’t cause a crash and make sure we win.”
In the women’s race, crit ringer Erica Allar (Rally Cycling) said she’ll try not to look at the race as a second chance after last year’s crash on the last turn of the last lap of crit nationals.
Allar, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s Coryn Rivera and Rivera’s leadout all went down as they watched Kendall Ryan (TIBCO) steal the victory that was all within their grasp. The final sprint was setting up to be one of the best sprint battles in women’s crit-racing history in a championship race.
Defending champion Ryan also won’t compete this year due to injury, nor will her team.
Allar, 31, took USA Cycling’s National Criterium Calendar overall series title every year for the three years leading up to last year’s championship. Last year, her season wrought with crashes, she lost the title to ISCorp p/b SmartChoice MRI’s Samantha Schneider.
“I try not to look at it as a second chance,” Allar said. “Last year was last year. I look forward to the new opportunity and controlling what I can control. 2016 is a new year and crit nats is on a new course. It will be exciting to toe the line with the others on Sunday.”
Allar said Schneider and Rivera will be two of the biggest contenders in the race.
“I am going into the race focusing on my strengths and not over thinking the race,” Allar said. “I have confidence in what my new team and I can accomplish.”
She’ll have some help from powerhouse teammate Jessica Prinner, known in collegiate circles as the rider whose individual time trial time beat out Rivera’s Marian University’s team time trial winning time in 2014 collegiate nationals.
Rivera said the crash last year was unfortunate but that crashing happens in bike racing.
“Thankfully, we all walked away from it OK,” Rivera said.
Crit nationals will be Rivera’s first crit of the year after preparing for an Olympic bid at road races in Argentina, Qatar and Europe.
“It is hard to judge how the race might play out, especially since nationals is so early in the year,” Rivera said. “Regardless, my American UnitedHealthcare blue train and I will be there to race our best and give the crit title another shot.”
She pointed to Allar and Schneider as the “usual suspects” to be top challengers.
Visit Dallas DNA Pro Cycling also could be a dark horse at the race with 10 riders, or more than one fifth of the field.
Also absent from the race will be Redlands crit winner and powerful sprinter Lauretta Hanson (Team Colavita) – since Hanson is Australian, she’s out of contention.