The Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, Alabama, Saturday, May 6th, 2023, is the second stop in the American Criterium Cup. Like Athens Twilight, Sunny King is a four-corner race, at just one kilometer, with 15 feet of elevation gain per lap. This year, Sunny King is a little later in the season than in previous years. Now directly following Speed Week, athletes will be coming to the race more tuned for the style of fast, flat racing prevalent in the South. It’s a race where strength dominates, and the rider or teams that can push the speed, keeping it high, using the back slightly down-hill stretch to recover are the ones who prevail. With a short distance between corners three and four and an uphill drag to the finish, positioning is crucial in the final few laps.
Alexis Ryan leads the ACC and is in the Selle Italia Red Jersey, supplied by Official Cycling Apparel Partner, Primal.
Trying to grab the jersey will be Andrea Cyr of the Miami Nights. Andrea got second last year in the ACC overall, second in Athens, and is currently second in ACC. With a deep team talent behind her, including riders like Verena Eberhart and Paola Munoz, she is a contender to assume the lead.
The competitiveness of both Miami Nights and Denver Disruptors caught many off-guard in Athens, with Miami’s Cyr in second and Denver’s Erica Zavetta and Leah Kichmann sitting in third and fourth. Denver and Miami are also first and second in our team competition, with DNA Pro Cycling rounding out the top three.
But coming from Speed Week, many riders are finding form. DNA Pro Cycling will have riders returning from Speed Week and Tour of the Gila. This squad is one of the more cohesive racing groups, so expect to see the pink squad at the front. DNA Pro Cycling has two riders in our top ten, Heather Fischer and Rachel Langdon, fifth and eighth, respectively.
In the Sprint competition, Denver Disruptors’ Erica Zavetta is wearing Green with 35 points. Rachel Plessing of ButcherBox sits in second with 25 points over Denver Disruptors’ Leah Kirchmann with 15 points. This year’s Sprint competition is stand-alone, so look for different riders to focus on these intermediate Sprints. If you’re keeping track, these sprints occur at seven laps in, midway, and seven to go.
ACC top three
Bryan Gomez of the Miami Nights comes to Sunny King in the Selle Italia Red Leaders jersey. And while he has a strong team behind him, including last year’s ACC second and third in Clever Martinez and Alfredo Rodriquez (who won Sunny King last year), it was clear in Athens and the following Speedweek that American Cycling Group (ACG) and Danny Summerhill are queued up to be spoilers this season. Being beaten by Gomez by mere inches in Athens, Summerhill sits second overall and in our Sprinters green.
ButcherBox Cycling p/b LOOK’s Dusan Kalaba and Evan McQuirk sit second and third in our Sprint race, tied with Mager in fourth with 15 points. McQuirk is sitting sixth overall, and Kalaba in fifteenth. Andrew Giniat rounds out the top twenty in seventeenth. This team had a phenomenal Speed Week and will come into Sunny King with significant momentum.
AUTOMATIC | ABUS Racing and Texas Roadhouse Cycling p/b VQ Labs also have been having a great start. AUTOMATIC | ABUS’ Thomas Gibbons, an experienced rider, is just off the podium in fourth, and Robert Stobel in ninth. Texas Roadhouse has two riders in the ACC overall top twenty, Arthur Fergus, seventh, and Andrew Dillman, twentieth.
ACC top three
The Sunny King Criterium is one of the ACC races streaming live this season. The women’s race is at 5:20 pm CST, with the men racing at 6:30 pm CST. Coverage starts 5 PM CST/ 6 PM EST .You can find stream links at https://www.annistoncycling.com.