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Mike Sayers in Action (Foto by Mark Adkinson)
Mike Sayers in Action (Foto by Mark Adkinson)

Mike Sayers and Jackson Stewart animate, finish strongly at Downers Grove criterium

16. August 2008

Downers Grove

Acting as a warm up event for the National Criterium Championships, the 50 km Downers Grove criterium found many of the country’s top sprinters and escape artists stretching their legs in preparation for the big one on Sunday.  

With the Tour of Utah also taking the attention and resources of many teams, the field was a compact gathering of sprinting pros mixed in with excited Cat 1 and 2 riders.  BMC’s small contingent of players did their part in animating the race: hardly a move or break did not contain a BMC rider.

A night where breaks were short lived

“This was a pretty straight forward criterium,” Directeur Sportif Ben Standish reported.  “No breaks managed to stay away for more than a lap or two at a time, and with no pure sprinter on our team, we were feeding the breaks, trying to get one to stick.”  With Taylor Tolleson’s lingering injury preventing him from joining the racing in Illinois, the team was rather short-handed with Mike Sayers, Jackson Stewart, Tony Cruz and David Galvin flying the BMC colors.  “Mike and Jackson were in just about every move tonight,” Standish said.  “Jackson was off the front alone for multiple laps at a time, and really got the BMC name out.”  With about 20 laps to go, Stewart initiated a solo break which lasted for around a lap and a half, at which point he was absorbed by a chase group, which itself was soon soaked up by the pack.  “Mike was also riding very strongly at the front of the race the whole time,” Standish reported.  “I don’t think that he dropped out of the first ten riders at all the whole race.”  “The racing tonight was pretty fast; the group was strung out most of the race, so we must have been going pretty quick,” Sayers reported. 

Giving one last push for a solo BMC win

With about one and a half laps to go, Stewart made one more try for the victory by breaking off solo.  “Jackson made a move right at the end that lasted for maybe half a lap,” Standish described.  “But Rock Racing had such a fantastic train lined up that there was no way a single rider was going to stay away.”  Back in the pack, Mike Sayers was winding up for his finish.  “When Jackson took his flyer, I was positioning myself in the group,” Sayers said.  “The racing was a little dangerous at the end; I finished as well as could have since I wasn’t willing to take too many risks.”  The team was pleased at how well positioned they were able to remain even in the sometimes chaotic field. “Watching Tony Cruz navigate his way through the pack, that guy moves up with such ease, he moves at will dancing on the peddles,” Standish said.  For tomorrow, the field will be limited to Pro racers, so the field should be under 100 riders, which theoretically will work to BMC’s advantage.  “Strategically, having fewer riders in the race should help our cause,” Standish stated.  “With fewer guys racing, it should also be a lot safer,” Mike Sayers interjected.  “And there is a good possibility for a break to slip away; I can definitely see the right combo of guys making it to the finish.”  The Downers Grove course is built on a slope which makes for more interesting than usual criterium racing.  “It is the same course as always, and the fact that it is 100km means that it is always going to be hard,” Sayers said.  “Even after racing with everyone today, you never know how guys are feeling.  Some are holding back tonight in anticipation for Sunday’s race, some guys are bluffing through the 50km tonight only to come up short in the longer event, so we just never know till the final pass through the finish Sunday.”