Anniston, Ala. (July 3, 2021) – Bicycle racing took center stage Fourth of July weekend as top professional cyclists from across the U.S. battled for crowns in the 19th annual Sunny King Criterium in downtown Anniston, Ala. on Saturday.
Harriett Owen (Vancouver, BC) of InstaFund Racing sprinted across the finish line for the title in the Women Pro 1/2 race. Tanner Ward (North Little Rock, Ark.) of First Internet Bank Cycling clinched the top spot in the Men Pro 1 race.
Alabama Cycling Classic combines the well-established Sunny King Criterium with the Piedmont Criterium for two full days of road racing. The Sunny King Criterium is the fifth national criterium event on the Professional Road Tour (PRT) calendar for 2021. Saturday offered 21 categorized races for a variety of age groups and skill levels, concluding with the signature PRT races for Cat 1/2 Pro Women and Cat 1 Pro Men.
This was the 10th year for the livestream broadcast of the Sunny King Criterium. The webcast, which was sponsored by Sparklight and Alabama Power, covered nine hours of racing from Noon to 9p.m. CST. Racing actions were called by announcer Brad Sohner and former pro cyclist and 2017 Sunny King Criterium winner Lauren Hall.
The Pro Women’s criterium featured 28 riders in the 60-minute contest. Olivia Ray (Bonaire, Ga.) of Rally Cycling set the pace early, taking a few turns at the front to test the responses of the challengers on the four turn one kilometer course. A few counter pushes were made by CWA Racing p/b TREK, Colavita/HelloFresh Women’s Pro Cycling and Supra Functional Food Bars. However, as the field began to take shape, there would be no major leads in the gaps.
With nine laps to go, the pack began to stretch into an aggressive formation with Madison Kelly (Naples, Fla.) of CWA Racing p/b Trek coming up the left as Olivia Ray sprinted to the front. By lap three, the series of attacks continued with Ayesha McGowan (Decatur, Ga.) of Liv Racing and all riders of Colavita.HelloFresh moving up.
In the final lap, Harriet Owen of Instafund Racing sprinted forward ahead of teammate Rachel Langdon (Louisville, Ky.) and Emily Ehrlick (Westland, Mich.) of CWA Racing p/b TREK to clinch the win. Emily Ehrlich of CWA Racing p/b TREK finished second, with Owen’s teammate Rachel Langdon finishing third.
“It was tough race. Normally as a lead out you go into your blow, and I came out of the last turn and in that point I’m so use to coming around,” said Rachel Langdon of Instafund Racing. “Harriet came around with a gap, and someone was sprinting me to the line, and so I had to go all the way through and hold on.”
The Men’s 60-lap criterium featured a field of 47 riders. Although there were a series of attacks from Project Echelon and Best Buddies Racing. The true battle was between Tanner Ward of First Internet Banking and Michael Hernandez (North Miami Beach, Fla.) of Best Buddies Racing, who broke away from the field early on.
With three laps to go, Ward came right out of the corner with a series of attacks going right to left across the road for the breakaway. In the final stretch, he was able to hold off Hernandez on the climb to sprint to the finish. Michael Hernandez finished second with Thomas Gibbons holding on third place.
“I was trying to conserve as much as possible,” said Michael Hernandez of his performance. “We weren’t certain if the gap was coming up or down. Ward is a smart racer. He watched me from the side and did that jump. He beat me fair and square.”
The archive for the video is available online at annistoncycling.com/videos. Results are available online at http://livelynxresults.com/