McNulty wins solo in state criterium championship

He said he was just testing the waters with his early race attack, but young Brandon McNulty (LUX Development) rode away from the Men Pro/1/2 field to claim the Arizona state criterium championship.

Kimberly Lucie (Sabino Cycles) and 17-year-old McNulty won the respective elite races in Mesa Friday night. Lucie won in a field sprint after her team set her up, and McNulty won solo.

“I’m dead,” McNulty said. “It feels good though.”

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McNulty attacked with another rider in the opening laps of the race but set off on his own with more than 50 minutes remaining. 

His lead grew to as high as 30 seconds, but began to fade as Jetset, Landis/Trek and Stone House Group p/b VeloVie combined forces to catch the junior. The lead appeared to be falling – down to as low as 19 seconds – as announcers called a $500 prime, and McNulty set his sights on the cash.

“They called that $500 prime, and I was pretty dead at that point, so I was going to sit up after,” he said.

But the lead held, and McNulty put his head down again to evade the likes of Brian Forbes (Stone House Group p/b VeloVie) and Kyle Reedy (Jetset Racing), who launched separate fliers in the final 15 minutes.

Announcers called the gap 15 seconds with five laps to go, but the pace of the field lapsed in the final two laps as victory seemed all but assured for McNulty.

“To have a kid like that roll away from a bunch of adults is pretty cool,” said California sprinting ace Rahsaan Bahati (Bahati-WTR), who watched McNulty dominate the San Dimas Stage Race. Bahati remembered the Arizona junior when the gap surpassed 20 seconds.

“I didn’t know it was him, but the way he was riding – I was like, ‘dude, that’s got to be him’,” Bahati said. “I don’t know much about him, but I know he’s a phenomenal athlete.”

Bahati won the field sprint over Craig Streit (Stone House Group p/b VeloVie), who claimed the Cat 1 championship. McNulty is Cat 2.

Earlier in the day, Sabino Cycles delivered Lucie to the victory in the Women’s Pro/1/2 race. 

The pace was steady and subdued, save for the two prime laps won by Lisa Ribes-Roberts (Sabino Cycles) and Amy Chandos (Northern Arizona University).

“It went down pretty tactically,” Lucie said. “Nobody really wanted to do anything, and I had two teammates, so it was kind of us on the front, rotating around.”

Ribes-Roberts controlled most of the pace, and Allison Alterman (Sabino Cycles) led out Lucie for the victory over Alexis Gannis (GPE p/b Athlete Octane).

“I sat in the back pretty much the whole race – which was my plan – but at the very end, she got me,” Gannis said.

Gannis will be racing again on Sunday at the second installment of the state championship. Bahati will compete in El Tour de Mesa tomorrow. The state championship weekend is competing with the Redlands Classic in California.

“So that takes away from this a little bit,” Bahati said. “But I thought the race was still relatively fast and competitive.”

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James Anderson