A LITTLE PRE-HISTORY
A French engineer built the first known self-propelled, two-wheeled vehicle in 1693. A practical, commercially successful bicycle, then called a Velocipede, arrived in the mid-1800s. Paris hosted the first known organized bike race in 1868. The first modern stage race arrived in 1903 — a race around France. Today, we know it as the Tour de France.
The first recorded bicycle race in the United States took place May 24, 1878, in Boston, Mass. All of the racers were amateurs. Bicycle racing became a professional sport in 1894. Children exchanged trading cards featuring bicycle racers, much like youths today trade baseball cards. Eventually, though, riders from foreign countries were brought in to compete, and they soon became the best riders in the world
It was not until American Greg LeMond, who won the World Championships in 1983 and the Tour de France in 1986, 1989 and 1990, that the U.S. produced one of the dominant racers in the world. LeMond was the first American to win the Tour de France (1986), followed by another famous American cyclist, Lance Armstrong, who won the famed Tour de France a record seven straight times from 1999-2005.
2003: WALTERBORO’S FIRST RACE
Olympians and pro cycling champions enjoy South Carolina’s smiling faces and beautiful places as they participate in the inaugural S.C. Heritage Cycling Series.
The series of races are held throughout the state’s historic and scenic Heritage Corridor. Sandwiched between the Athens Twilight Criterium and races in Shelby, N.C., and Roswell, Ga., the S.C. Heritage Cycling Series proves to be one of the riches racing weeks in America.
With a theme of Crits (Criteriums), Grits and Greens, the week of racing promotes the culture and scenery of the South, with stages in Anderson, Walterboro, Greenwood and Aiken.
For those not in Walterboro not familiar with professional bicycle racing, the event is a bit more than most Colletonians expected — about 130 bikes traveling at 30 mph, to be exact.
With the Navigator Insurance Team securing an early breakaway, the Saturn team tries to make a comeback in the last couple of laps. While the effort was valiant, Navigator team member Oleg Grichkine, of Russia, still comes in the top spot, finishing at 1 hour, 38 minutes and 31 seconds.
Saturn member Eric Wohlberg, of Sunnyvale, Calif., finishes 1.3 seconds later to place second, and Navigator Henk Vogels, of Australia, places third. Vogels’ finish time was 1:40:30.
2004: VOLUNTEERS RAISE FUNDS FOR RACE
The first year of the Heritage Series was made possible by a grant and the joint effort of Hincapie Sports, the Heritage Corridor and the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. This year, though, each town takes on the task of financing these fast-paced tests of endurance and talent.
The group of dedicated volunteers are successful raising the money, even when other larger towns in the four stages are not and cancel their races.
The second annual race is filled with lots of high-speed excitement — some unplanned.
During the first portion of the race, an unknowing motorist pulls out of a residential driveway and onto the course. Although the vehicle is removed from the course without incident or injury, the driver narrowly misses the group of about 100 cyclists by just seconds. Then, with just two laps to go, a crash occurs on Hampton Street. In the final lap, another crash takes down several riders.
Race director Rich Hincapie credited both crashes — in which no one was seriously hurt — to the heat of the race’s final laps. (Rich is brother to George Hincapie, also known as Lance Armstrong’s lieutenant and right-hand man in his quest to win seven Tour de France titles.)
J.J. Haedo of New Jersey takes home the first place prize with 1 hour, 38 minutes and 16 seconds, at the second annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium. Haedo rides for Colavita Olive Oil, presented by Bolla Wines.
One second later, John Lieswyn, an Iowan riding for HealthNet presented by Maxxis, captures second. New Zealander Gordon McCauley of Team Monex, rounds out the third spot on the podium with a finish of 1:38:18.
2005: FAST-PACED CONTEST
The third annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium is dominated by the Advantage Benefits Endeavour cycling team.
In a race that features several small groups routinely breaking away from the rest of the field and a steady, fast, pace from the main pack of racers, Advantage rider Karl Menzies takes first overall in the race, with a time of 1:41:49.
Menzies barely edges out Kodak Gallery/Sierra Navada cyclist Glen Mitchell who finishes second overall with a time of 1:41:58.
2006: A NEAR PHOTO FINISH
The race takes nearly two hours to finish, and in the end, it is Ivan Dominguez of Toyota cycling team who comes out in front of the rest of the field on that final lap, taking first with a time of 1:49:46. Colavita cycling’s Viktor Rapinski, places second at 1:49:47.0, and Jittery Joes’ Jeff Hopkins, 1:49:47.4, comes in behind him in a near photo finish.
Casey Chamberlin, who abandoned the race, watches the final laps from the sidelines.
“The race was just so fast,” he said. “That, and the heat was a big factor. The humidity was tough with us coming from Seattle.”
2007: ROLLIN DOWN WASHINGTON STREET
KodakGallery cyclist Dominique Rollin pumps his arms into the air, lets go of the handlebars and lets out a triumphant yell.
With good cause. On this night, he has plenty of reason to be elated.
Rollin had just won the fifth annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium, outlasting Rock Racing’s Rahsaan Bahati down the stretch. Making things even sweeter, Kodak Gallery teammate Josh Thornton finishes third to maintain his spot as the overall leader of the USA CRITS Southeastern Series.
2008: BOMB THREAT DELAYS RACES
Average speed limit for motorists driving on Washington and Hampton streets: 20 mph. Top speed turned in by the 2008 Downtown Walterboro Criterium pro cyclists Wednesday: 37 mph.
Perhaps the colorful, flying cyclists are bending the law, but for the several hundred patrons who turn out for the sixth edition of the race, it was well worth the risk.
Still, high speeds aren’t the only danger athletes and fans encounter. An hour prior to the originally scheduled start of the series, a bomb threat (later deemed invalid) is phoned into the Colleton County Courthouse on Hampton Street, forcing an hour-plus delay to the start of the first scheduled race and creates darker conditions for the main events, the men’s and women’s professional divisions.
Different conditions certainly don’t affect women’s overall winner Kelly Benjamin. The Cheerwine Cycling team member edges Colavita Sutter Homes cyclist Shontell Gauthier by .3 seconds to win the event with a time of 59:39.5. Overall series leader Tina Pic finished seventh, rolling in at 53.57.2, 17.2 seconds off the lead.
In the men’s race, the series sees its first back-to-back winner in its nine-race “Speed Week,” as independent Hilton Clarke follows up a victory in Tuesday’s Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic with a win in Wednesday’s stage. Clarke, who is sponsored by Toyota but has no team affiliation, wins the contest by less than 1/100 of a second. He is dead even with Colavita Sutter Homes’ Sebastian Haedo as the lead pack crosses the finish line on East Washington Street, but in the final second, Clarke literally inches ahead.
2009: MEN’S RACE A BATTLE OF TWO
Two different races, two very different endings in the top-billed men and women’s professional series contests.
The men’s race, which features a field of 70, actually plays out to be a battle of two, as Champion Porsche’s Frank Travieso edges Team Hotel San Jose’s Carlos Vargas by .4 seconds to win a race dominated by the duo. Travieso (1:25:23.4) and Vargas (1:25:23.8) each finish a comfortable eight seconds ahead of the rest of the pack.
The women’s race features a decidedly closer finish, as Brooke Miller of Team Tibco completes the course in 56:10.6 to nip defending series leader Tina Pic (56:10.8) by .2 seconds.
Miller and Pic’s duel, however, is merely the front end of a hotly contested finish that sees the top 25 finishers all cross the line within a six-second window.
2010: BAHATI, COLAVITA TAKE TOP SPOTS
Bahati Foundation cyclist Hilton Clarke turns the corner in front of the Colleton County Courthouse in third place but pedals into the winner’s circle by the time he reaches the city parking lot, edging United Healthcare’s Karl Menzies by less than a tenth of second to win the eighth annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium.
Clarke’s win, the closest in the race’s eight-year history, also makes the Australian the criterium’s first two-time champion. His last victory came in 2008.
In the women’s race, Colavita/Baci Pro’s Theresa Cliff-Ryan fights off Vera Bradley Foundation’s Erica Allar and BMW-Bianchi’s Sarah Caravella in another close finish. Cliff-Ryan’s time of 57:25.6 is just three-tenths of a second better than the rest of the frontrunners.
2012: ALZATE, BAYER SPEED TO WINS
A race that appeared all but in the bag for one pro women’s cyclist ended in a narrow defeat, and the fourth different rider in four races triumphed in the pro men’s division during Wednesday’s Downtown Walterboro Criterium.
Carlos Alzate, 29, of Team Exergy, held off a late charge by Team Coco’s Frank Travieso, 32, the 2009 Downtown Walterboro Criterium champ, to notch his first win of the 2012 USA CRITS Speed Week in the pro men’s division with a time of 1:26:58.3.
Alzate finally prevailed after three consecutive top 10 finishes, including a runner-up finish to Travieso in Tuesday’s Beaufort Memorial Classic. Travieso notched his fourth consecutive top 10 in this year’s Speed Week by finishing second. His time was 1:26:59.4.
Lindsay Bayer, 28, riding out of Charlottesville, Va. and representing the XO Communications team, also became the fourth different rider to ascend the first-place podium this week in the pro women’s division when she ran down Erin Burton, representing Cleveland Clinic Sports Health, to cross the finish line in a time of 58:44, her fourth top 10 finish of the week.
Burton led the field by as much as 17 seconds halfway through the race, but Bayer slowly cut into that lead over the final 10 laps, and ultimately passed Burton with two laps remaining. Burton crossed the stripe in 55:45.8, notching her first top 10 in the first four races.
“I knew that it was going to be a huge effort, but I had to be willing to throw away my race and commit, 100-percent, to catching her and to winning the race,” Bayer said of overcoming the enormous gap between Burton and the field.
“But when you’re up there and you want it so badly, you know that there’s no other way that you’re going to possibly come out with the result you want unless you commit 100 percent and give it everything. … I gave it my 100 percent and was able to get the win.”
Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop remains in first place atop the men’s standings after Wednesday’s race thanks to two wins in the first two races and a top five finish by Luke Keough. Alzate’s win moves Team Exergy into second place.
The pro women’s division is still paced by the Mellow Mushroom/Rose Bandit Racing team thanks to four straight top 10s and win by Laura Van Gilder in the second race of the week Monday, the Historic Roswell (Ga.) Criterium. Van Gilder finished fourth Wednesday.
The 2012 CRITS Speed Week continues today in the Upstate at the Spartanburg Regional Classic.
Pro Women’s Top 10
Name – Team – Time
■ 1: Lindsay Bayer – XO Communications/Cisco – 0:58:44.0
■ 2: Erin Burton – Cleveland Clinic Sports Health – 0:58:45.8
■ 3: Erica Allar – RideClean/PatentIt.com – 0:58:49.3
■ 4: Laura Van Gilder – Mellow Mushroom/Rose Bandit Racing – 0:58:49.4
■ 5: Samantha Schneider – Team TIBCO – 0:58:49.5
■ 6: Sarah Fader – Pepper Palace/Spin-Tech – 0:58:49.8
■ 7: Morgan Patton – Team Type 1 – 0:58:50.0
■ 8: Lenore Pipes – RideClean/PatentIt.com – 0:58:50.0
■ 9: Carrie Cash – Pedal the Cause – 0:58:50.2
■ 10: Jennifer Purcell – Team TIBCO – 0:58:50.3
Pro Men’s Top 10
■ 1: Carlos Alzate – Team Exergy – 1:26:58.3
■ 2: Frank Travieso – Team Coco’s – 1:26:59.4
■ 3: Isaac Howe – Kenda/5-Hour Energy/Geargri – 1:26:59.4
■ 4: Luke Keough – Team Mountain Khakis/SmartStop – 1:26:59.5
■ 5: Brendan Cornett – Locos Grill & Pub – 1:26:59.6
■ 6: Emile Abraham – Rossetti Devo Cycling Team – 1:27:00.0
■ 7: Bobby Lea – Pure Energy/ProAirHFA – 1:27:00.1
■ 8: John Murphy – Kenda/5 Hour Energy – 1:27:00.2
■ 9: Yosmani Pol – Team Coco’s – 1:27:00.5
■ 10: Ivan Dominguez – Franco Bicycles – 1:27:01.0
2013: HILTON CLARKE WINS THIRD DOWNTOWN WALTERBORO CRITERIUM
Something about Walterboro seems to agree with Australian cyclist Hilton Clarke.
Clarke, a professional men’s division rider for United Healthcare Pro Cycling, claimed his third Downtown Walterboro Criterium victory in six years Wednesday, narrowly defeating teammate and 2012 winner Carlos Alzate for the win.
“It all came together with two laps to go,” Clarke said. “My team is so well drilled in being able to work together to get me to the front.
“Also, I had last year’s winner helping me to get to the front. Who better to help me?”
Alzate won the previous night’s race in Savannah. Clarke, who won in 2008 and 2010 is in first place in the USA CRITS Speed Week standings. Alzate moved into seventh. United Healthcare Pro Cycling’s team has now won three consecutive races since losing the USA CRITS Speed Week opener on Sunday.
A first-time Walterboro winner was crowned earlier during the professional women’s division race. Samantha Schneider, a rider for Team TIBICO, edged out three other racers by a fraction of a second to claim the win.
“My last few laps were each extremely fast,” Schneider said. “I had good position coming into the last corner, and was able to sprint to the finish for the win.
“I love this course, and love coming down to Walterboro, so getting a win here in front of this crowd was awesome. It was a good race, and I’m really happy to have been able to get a win here.”
Schneider moved to third place in the overall women’s standings with the win.
Clarke completed the men’s race in one hour, 14 minutes and 44 seconds (1:14:44) to notch the victory. Alzate crossed the finish line only a second off the pace, finishing in 1:14:45. Shane Kline of Team SmartStop-Mountain Khakis placed third, and Karl Menzies, another United Healthcare Pro Cycling team member, placed fourth. Alzate, Kline and Menzies each finished in 1:14:45, separated by mere tenths of a second.
Each of the top four finishers in the women’s race completed the race in the 1:01:13 time bracket. Kimberly Wells, a rider for Fearless Femme powered by Pure Energy, took home second.Christina gokey-Smith finished third, riding for Rouse/Oogie Racing. Fearless Femme rider Theresa Cliff-Ryan placed fourth.
SOURCE: Amgen Tour of California, The Press and Standard archives
2016: HOLLOWAY AND PIC EARN WINS IN WALTERBORO CRITERIUM
The fourteenth annual Downtown Walterboro Criterium held Wednesday May 4 featured the USA Crits Cycling Teams. The popular downtown event featured teams comprised of American and international professional male and female racers, along with both upcoming summer Olympian athletes and amateurs.
At speeds over 30 mph, the races brought much excitement to visitors downtown with thrilling finishes and spills along the curving course. As always, the kids’ race, was popular with all ages, as was the VIP section which featured local food and refreshments.
With 10 laps remaining, Daniel Holloway of Team Alto Velo-Seasucker was running in 13th place. He began making his way to the front of the pack, where he made a final push on the tricky corners and captured the win.
Tina Pic of Pepper Palace Pro Cycling was the winner in the professional women’s division, which turned scary in a late-race crash. Pic finished two bike lengths ahead of Lauretta Hanson of Team Fearless Femme, after a strong finish in the final turn.
The 2016 USA CRITS will finish the series August 20 in West Chester, Pa.
SOURCE: The Press and Standard, www.walterborolive.com