By Christopher See
June 2011 – This year, the Sugarhouse Criterium, held on May 21, offered something new. Organizer Marek Shon of Cyclesmith opted to run the event clockwise around Sugarhouse Park. Clockwise meant the north side of the course along 21st South became a long false flat. The start/finish area was relocated to the northwest end of the course to use the short steep ramp out of the lake drainage to animate the finish. The weather cooperated and the race was run under sunshine and blue skies. A welcome change from the never-ending winter of 2011.
Fourteen women pro/1/2/3 riders lined up for a forty-five minute romp around the park. Two members of the North American pro circuit, Nichole Evans (Primal/Map My Ride) and teammate Nicky Wangsgard took the start with Utah regulars including Chantal Thackeray Olsen (Primal Utah), Laura Howat (Ski Utah/Marketstar).
Ski Utah set the tone with an early flyer from Alison Frye. She was brought back by a peloton animated by the presence a strong Primal Utah team. Evans went next to take measure of the group. Well known in the local race community as the woman to mark, Evans was joined by Kristen Kotval of Primal Utah. A series of attacks and counters by Wangsgard and a motivated pack negated their bid for freedom. The net result ended up gruppo compatto.
Dulce Altabella Lazzi (Contender) went next. Her move triggered a series of attacks, from which the eventual wining break would form. When the flurry ended Olsen, Howat and a third rider would remain clear. Coming around to the start area, Evans launched at the sharp ramp to the line. She latched onto the three escapees and attacked testing their commitment. Olsen and Howat were able to answer.
With four to go Evans, Olsen and Howat worked to setup the finale. With the three strongest teams represented, the break would succeed. For three laps the trio worked together. On the final lap Evans attacked a final time, and went free to claim a solo win. Thirty seconds back, Olsen and Howat sprinted for second with Howat claiming the placing. A minute and thirty seconds later the field sprint for fourth went to Utah newcomer Kat Carr riding in Vanderkitten livery.
The men’s pro/1/2 race was cancelled due to an unfortunate crash.