13 April 2013 – Presbyterian Hospital Invitational Criterium, Charlotte NC
Team: Nicky Wangsgard, Kori Seehafer, Joanie Caron, Tiffany Pezzulo & Melina Bernecker
Celebrating its 10th year anniversary the Charlotte Criterium in North Carolina is one of the toughest criterium events on the USA and NCC Crit Calendar with a cash purse of $25,000 is prizes and primes. With a star studded field of 75 competitors including world, national and Olympic champions this race draws a huge crowd to the downtown streets of Charlotte.
The eight corner 2.25mile (2km) criterium course consisted of two squares at the end of two long straights with a slight rise in the middle. The finish line was at the top of the rise with a slight tail wind about 400 meters from the last corner. The roads are generally quite wide with a few narrow short sections at each end.
Starting position was essential with a big field and technical course, the girls started staging about 20 min before the 6pm start time. The Primal girls managed to get good position at the front with Joanie Caron & Nicky Wangsgard (last year’s winner) getting call ups on the start line. The crowds were quite big around the start line with people lining the street most of the way around the course… the atmosphere was fantastic!
Cycling legend George Hincapie was our race starter and as the horn blew the girls flew from the start line and straight into the first preem lap. The primal girls moved to the front of the field as a unit as the field surged and slowed at each corner It felt like every second lap was a preem lap for cash. The mid race points prime occurred about 25 min into the race and was followed by a momentary lull. The attacks started coming hard at about the 35 minute mark with 4 girls getting away at the front with about 15 seconds, unfortunately as the move occurred Mel was boxed in, Kori had just chased the last break and needed a breather and the rest of the girls were too far back to respond. A second chase group quickly formed which Mel jumped but the breakaway was quickly caught with about 4 laps to go.
As we got to the business end of the race the last 4 laps were strung out mostly single file, Mel got pinched in a corner and dropped about 20 spots due to self preservation, Tiffany and Kori hung on to the front of the field (their legs screaming) as we crossed the finish line for the final time.
The race was won by Lauren Stephens (FCS/Zigine) in a drag race field sprint, second was Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Fearless Femme) and third veteran legend Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushrooms).
Despite the Race not yielding the results the Primal Pro Women’s team set out to achieve we still had Tiffany and Kori place in the top 20 and Joanie was able to hang on to the podium in the overall NCC points results. We did have a lot of fun racing together and running the women’s skills clinic at Dilworth (and meeting some awesome new girls).
A big thank you to our support team in North Carolina you guys were fantastic. Thank you to Christina Dekraay , TrySports and Grace & Devon Fleury for hosting and taking such good care of us.
Joanie Caron on the Podium placing 3rd overall in the NCC Rankings