The 2011 US Track Championships were chock full of roaring crowds, record setting performances, and more than a little hair-pulling controversy to make it one of the more memorable editions in recent years.
Adam Duvendeck took over managing events at the ADT Home Depot Center for the 2011 National Championships and both athletes and spectators were praising the changes made by Duvendeck to the week’s training session schedules and community outreach efforts. With over 1200 fans jammed into the LA Velodrome on Saturday, the night showed that if you build it, they will come.
The US Championships began with the International Omnium – a grueling 2-day competition that tests the endurance, skill, and nerves of competitors. The women’s event saw the lead change hands between 4 different riders, as a field of top athletes battled it out over six events. With world silver medalist, Sarah Hammer as a late pull-out from the Omnium, the title was wide open and every racer in attendance was aggressive, hopeful, and risking for the win.
The early lead was taken by Care for Cycling’s Hanan Alves-Hyde as she scorched a 15.2 Flying Lap on the 250m indoor facility. The International Omnium is a true all-arounder’s test of speed, abiity,and endurance – exhibited in that Alves-Hyde’s flying lap time would have translated into a top-3 of the Match Sprint specialists’ 200m qualifying time trials.
The next event was the Points Race, an event that showcases the endurance and tactics of the mass start heroes. Colavita’s Lauren Hall had a spectacular showing, taking the race over Beth Newell (Bell Lap Racing) by a slim 1 point margin in an attacking, tactical, and tense final 10 laps. Standout performances were put in by Cog Racing teammates Neva Day and Lana Atchley, with each taking long-bomber solo-efforts to rile up the crowds and put the favorites on the defensive. It was a good display of teamwork and guts.
The final event of Day 1 was the Miss-n-Out, arguably the most stressful, challenging event in all of track racing. Leading the overall standings after the first 2 events was the consistent and experienced, Jen Triplett. In a Miss-n-Out, or “Elimination Race,” the last rider on every other lap of a 250meter track is pulled, causing gut-tightening sprints from riders in the back of the pack and lung-busting efforts from those on the front. It’s like a full-throttle crit finish every 40 seconds.
Beth Newell would take command of the pace setting early as riders were eliminated sprint after sprint. Shelby Reynolds (Sugar Cycles), hands-down one of the best position riders in the US, woud put in an extraordinary performance in the Miss-n-Out even though she was suffering food poisoning from the night before. Hanan Alves-Hyde would be pulled early, dropping her down the overall standings, then Jen Triplett would be pipped by the tacticians Reynolds and Hayduk … and then it would be Beth Newell popped by a fantastic surge led by Lauren Hall. Hall would put in two more superb sprints, eliminating first Reynolds, and then Hayduck for the win. The Colavita/Forno D’Asolo rider would take the overall lead and all the momentum going into Day 2 of the Omnium.
For the Men, Day 1 would see a battle between defending champion Bobby Lea (Pure Energy Cycling) and track legend Jame Carney. Carney is the head of the Care-for-Cycling team and swaps duties between manager, athlete, and coach as only a man who’s been in the sport for a couple decades can. Lea is the beast on the block, the one-man wrecking crew, the TrexlerTown Terror … it was going to be a great battle to watch.
The flying lap was taken by Lea, giving him a strong advantage to play with as the Omnium progressed. The Points Race was a slugfest where every rider in the field would unload all reserves, with relentless speeds and debilitating sprints. But it would be an awe-inspiring late race lapping effort by Cody O’Reilly that would send the crowd into a frenzy. The move was elegant and supremely strategic, and move O’Reilly into 2nd overall behind Lea.
But the Elimination was to come, and that race is the devastator of hopes and crusher of aspirations. The pace was ferocious and the tactics cut-throat from the gun, as riders were pinned at 30+mph lap after lap. With elbows bumping and lungs burning, man after man would fall victim to the pace and positioning.
Carney was the maestro, you could see him mentally orchestrating which rider would be pulled next from the race as he floated in and out of the pack. But another rider displaying incredible heart and skill was Kit Karzen. 5th in the Flying Lap, and 6th in the Points Race, Karzen was skirting with the podium and would improve his position with a solid 3rd place in the Elimination after being just nipped by Carney and Lea in the final few laps. It was a huge ride from Karzen, and he would best sum up the rollercoaster of emotions the International Omnium puts you through, remarking how the event makes him, “hate my life, love my life, hate my life.”
At the end of Day 1, Lea was ahead of Carney by 3, with O’Reilly just behind and a host of other riders within striking distance of the podium. Day 2 of the Omnium would see riders contesting the Individual Pursuit, the Scratch Race, and the Time Trial (500m for the women, 1000m for the men).
Lea would assert himself again in the IP, crushing the field and taking a commanding lead in the Omnium standings. For the women, Beth Newell would take the Pursuit win over Lauren Hall by a scant 1.7 seconds back, setting up a very tight battle over the final two events between those two.
The women’s Scratch Race was won by Newell via a scorching late race effort that saw her shadow the tail end of the pack with 2 laps to go. The sprint for second would be led out by Lauren Hall, but a spectacular sprint put in by 18-year old Ruth Winder (HDR/Lombardi Sports) would see her placing second in the event.
The mens’ Scratch Race would be won by Lea in a 3-up sprint with Kit Karzen and Jame Carney. Karzen was very, very close to coming over the top of Lea to win the event, but the Trexler man was possessed and would not be denied. With the Scratch win, Lea clinched the overall Omnium title with only the Kilometer event remaining.
The final event of the Omnium was a battle for the rest of the podium, as Lea is a dominant kilo rider and asserted it again with a winning time of 1.05.9. But the race for the silver medal was between O’Reilly and Carney, with Carney taking it in a tie separated by accumulated time from all of the TT events. O’Reilly would take the bronze, Charles Huff (Jelly Belly) would take 4th, and Kit Karzen would remain on the podium for 5th.
The women’s 500m would be convincingly won by Mandy Marquardt with a very strong 37.9, but Newell would do enough to win the overall title ahead of Lauren Hall, Colleen Hayduk, Jen Triplett, and Hanan Alves-Hyde.
Complete Results: https://www.usacycling.org/results/index.php?permit=2011-182
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