Preview: USA CRITS heads a mile high at Littleton Twilight Criterium

While last weekend’s San Rafael Sunset Criterium had a bit of a Beverly Hills feel to it, the Littleton Twilight Criterium, just south of Denver, is a family affair. Littleton offers a full day of racing, as well as a free festival with multiple food trucks, a beer garden, kids’ activities and live music on the streets into the evening. A portion of the proceeds from the event benefits South Suburban Park Foundation (SSPF), South Metro Housing Authority (SMHO), South Platte Humane Society, and Littleton Schools Foundation.

Littleton is no stranger to hard and fast racing, as many of the pro cyclists that live up the road in Boulder drive down for the event. The pro races are dynamic, with riders on stage-race oriented teams showing up to the race either by themselves or with just a few teammates, and going head to head with powerhouse USA CRITS squads.

There’s no shortage of action as the local riders try to take advantage of being acclimated to the altitude (5,351 feet above seal level) by putting the rest of the field on the limit. It has been a hectic last month on the USA CRITS calendar, so most of the USA CRITS D-1 teams will not have had time to get acclimated to the thin air of Colorado.

The Course

The Littleton Twilight Criterium circuit isn’t your typical USA CRITS course. The six-corner L-shaped course is contested in a clockwise direction, meaning there is a long start-finish straightaway and another long straightaway between turns one and two. This will allow the stronger teams to string out the peloton and really increase the tempo before the turns come one after another in the second half of the course.

Expect to see many attacks on the two straightways as riders try to get up to speed and get an advantage before the technical aspect of the course. With the turns coming in such quick succession, it is possible for a group to get out of sight and stretch their advantage before the peloton realizes how far they are actually up the road.

The Contenders

It is set to be quite a battle in the pro women’s race in Littleton with every rider in the top 10 of the overall standings in attendance. Furthermore, former U.S. pro criterium national champion Erica Allar (Rally) will be returning from crash that resulted in several broken ribs.

Samantha Schneider reclaimed the lead in the USA CRITS series overall standings thanks to her win at the San Rafael Sunset Criterium. ISCorp and Schneider swept the podium and picked up a massive amount of points to fend off Colavita-Bialetti’s quest to pass them in the Team Classification. ISCorp and Colavita-Bialetti hold the top five places in the individual overall standings between them.

Tina Pic and Christina Gokey-Smith of Colavita-Bialetti sit second and third overall with just four races in the series remaining. Photo: Craig Huffman/USA CRITS

U.S. national criterium champion Leigh Ann Ganzar (Wolfpack-Hyperthreads) continued her climb up the standings and now sits eighth overall. She will have a full squad behind her in Colorado.

Hagens Berman-Supermint will only boast a three-rider squad in Littleton, but they are bringing fast-finisher Harriet Owen. Owen finished fourth in San Rafael last weekend and did so after spending considerable time on the front of the peloton chasing down moves or attacking herself.

Notably, CyclingTips Lap Leader Rachel Langdon (Gray Goat Mobile-Bullseye Total Media) returns to the USA CRITS series after a two-race absence.

On the men’s side, Best Young Rider classification leader Spencer Moavenzadeh (ButcherBox) will look to get back some points, as a heavy crash midway through the race at San Rafael hindered him in the finish. Moavenzadeh dropped from second to fourth overall in the series standings, but is still very much in the mix for the overall title and final podium spot. Look for him to come out swinging in Colorado and try to make up for the points he didn’t earn in California.

Best Young Rider leader Spencer Moavenzadeh (ButcherBox) and overall series leader David “Gutt” Guttenplan(Support Clean Sport-Guttenplan Coaching) before the San Rafael Sunset Criterium. Photo: Craig Huffman

Johnny Mitchell (Palmetto State) moved up to second overall and is only 144 points out the top position, which is being held by David “Gutt” Guttenplan (Support Clean Sport-Guttenplan Coaching). After racing without any teammates the last couple of races, Mitchell will have a full squad behind him in Colorado. With team support and the confidence of slowly climbing up the standings, this could be the race where we see Mitchell make a big jump forward.

Team Clif Bar had been knocking on the door of pulling off a victory for the last month and the squad finally did so at their sponsor’s home race in California. Most of the Clif Bar riders actually call Colorado home, so they’ll be one of the few teams ready for the altitude. Look for Kevin Mullervy in the purple CyclingTips Lap Leader jersey and his brother Connor to try to force a breakaway, and if it comes down to sprint Zach Allison is the rider to watch.

Also in the men’s race, a few riders on UCI Continental and Pro Continental squads will be lining up. Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare) will be flying solo, but will definitely be a rider to watch for. Elevate-KHS will have sprinter Scott Law present, supported by Kevin Girkins and Nicholas Torraca. Dillion Caldwell (303 Project), Oliver Flautt and Parker Kyzer (Cyclus Sport), and Travis Samuel (Silber) are other UCI riders on the start line.

Race coverage begins on usacrits.tv at 5:30 p.m. MST on Saturday with the amateur races, before the pro women take to the start line at 7:50 p.m. MST. The pro men’s race begins at 9:00 p.m. MST.

Keep an eye on the purple jersey during the pro men’s race, as Kevin Mullervy (Clif Bar) has a habit of attacking. Photo: Craig Huffman/USA CRITS

2018 USA CRITS Pro Men Series Leaders (After 7 of 11 Events)

Colavita Overall Leader: David Guttenplan (Support Clean Sport-Guttenplan Coaching)
Cycling Tips p/b BikeReg Lap Leader: Kevin Mullervy (Team Clif Bar)
JL Velo Best Young Rider: Spencer Moavenzadeh (ButcherBox)
FSA Fastest Lap: Kevin Mullervy (Clif Bar)
Bandit Award: Frank Travieso (EDA-Evolution Cycling)
D1 Team Leader: Team Clif Bar

2018 USA CRITS Pro Women Series Leaders (After 7 of 11 Events)

Colavita Overall Leader: Tina Pic (ISCorp)
Cycling Tips p/b BikeReg Lap Leader: Rachel Langdon (Gray Goat Mobile-Bullseye Total Media)
JL Velo Best Young Rider: Caroline Baur (ISCorp)
FSA Fastest Lap: Samantha Schneider (ISCorp)
Bandit Award: Georgia Baker (Fearless Femme Racing)
D1 Team Leader: ISCorp

Remaining events in the 2018 USA CRITS series

August 4: Littleton Twilight Criterium – Littleton, Colorado
August 11: Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic – West Chester, Pennsylvania
September 2: Giro della Montagna (Gateway Cup) – St. Louis, Missouri
September 15: Atlantic City Resurgence Fest Criterium – Atlantic City, New Jersey

CyclingTips is the official media partner of the 2018 USA CRITS series. Race coverage of the series will include pre- and post-race stories on each event and feature stories on each D1 Team.

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