OUCH / Maxxis’ John Murphy Takes U.S. National Criterium Championship

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RACE RECAP FROM TEAM OUCH: John Murphy of the OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis will wear the stars and stripes jersey of the U.S. National Criterium Champion for the next 12 months.

Murphy took advantage of exceptional work by his four teammates and succeeded in avoiding several crashes – including one by his own lead-out, Karl Menzies with less than half a kilometer remaining in the race – to cross the line as first American to take the national champion’s jersey.

“The team executed really well,” Murphy said. “We were a little shorthanded compared to the other main teams, but the guys rode today like they believed I could do it, and I did it.”

There were plenty of contributions from all four of his OUCH Presented by Maxxis teammates to help put Murphy in position to take the jersey. With a little more than two-thirds of the 61-lap race done, a dangerous three-rider group was up the road. Roman Kilun and Bobby Lea went to the front, and just those two riders rotating through brought back the break with five laps to go.

“From that point, Kelley Benefits took over the front and had seven guys lined up,” Murphy said. “Me, Karl and Pinner (Andrew Pinfold) were together right behind them. Then the last four guys in their train sat up and let the front three get a gap. Karl immediately took me up to them.”

The OUCH Presented by Maxxis duo was also joined by several other riders, including 2008 crit champion Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing), previous champion Tony Cruz (BMC) and Ben Kersten (Fly-V Australia), as well as Adam Myerson (Team Mountain Khakis).

With half a lap to go, Menzies was on the front working to deliver Murphy to the final corner first. But with 0.4 km to go, he slid out on a slick turn, the result of intermittent rains that had caused the start of the race to be delayed twice.

“Over the top of the last climb, Karl took over,” Murphy said. “When he crashed I barely missed going over him, by maybe a few millimeters. I tagged back on the group and with two turns to go, I took the inside line to move up. On the final corner, Bahati and Cruz came around me but Bahati overcooked it and crashed. I went through the turn at a good speed. Kersten came inside me and I thought he had good momentum going into the finish sprint, and I thought if he could keep that up it would be tough. I just went for it from there. I got close, and the outright win would’ve been great, but I’m really happy to get the jersey.”

Menzies 2nd in Downers Grove Pro-Am

Karl Menzies of OUCH Presented by Maxxis got his legs opened up for the criterium championship race by taking 2nd in Saturday’s Downers Grove Pro-Am, the traditional warm-up race for Sunday.

Menzies’ sheer strength was on display when, with eight laps to go, he bridged up to a group of nine riders that included Ivan Dominguez (Rock Racing) and Frank Pipp (Bissell). With three laps to go, Pipp attacked the break, covered by Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly). With just a lap remaining, Menzies once again made a solo bridge to the front group. Not long after he joined the duo, Powers attacked with a half lap remaining. Manzies and Pipp looked at each other to see who would cover, knowing that in all likelihood, the rider who closed down the attack would probably not have the snap to finish off the win.

Menzies made the decision, covered the move and gave his close friend and former teammate Pipp what amounted to a lead-out for the win.

“Karl was his usual strong self tonight,” said team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo. “And Bobby Lea and Roman Kilun did a great job of taking pressure off the sprinters by getting in a lot of early moves. Bobby was off the front numerous times today. He did a great job of representing the team up front.”

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