By Charles M Mathers
Published 07/18/2023; Updated 07/17/2023

After a pause due to dramatic flair and definitely not procrastination, I give you the synopsis of the final 2023 Zoom Crit.

The evening was met with muted intensity by the racers of the B cat due to the rain that preceded the competition. Spirits were not high, but seldom was heard a discouraging word.The field was comprised of thirteen riders, ten of which were NCC affiliated. The scene was set for a NCC victory, but for the appearance of a one Logan Kaspar, winner of the 2023 Unbound XL race (kind of a big deal, folks.)

The race unfolded with caution, but was punctuated with attacks and sheer moxy by the NCC contingent. Eventually, with fewer laps to go, Mitch Graves would make an impassioned launch for breakaway glory, leaving the peloton behind. The remaining NCC crew had enough savvy through the series to either not lead, or, in the case of Carlos “Tito” Garza, to lead with the intention of slowing the peloton to aid Mitch. Alas, Kaspar was able to bridge the gap and narrowly take Graves by a modest wheel-length at the finish.

A bunch sprint by the chase group resulted with the punchy Christoper Evans rounding out the podium, with perennial crit problem Alex Kahn, crit-master Tito and watt-generator Jonathan O’Keefe in tow. Myles Scott, Paul Gebers, Charlotte Lellman, Melissa Warwick, Enrique Negron, Andy Scott and Louis Meunier finished thereafter, respectively.

 

Photo Courtesy of Mitch Graves

 

With the course relatively drier, but still mottled by shallow puddles, the A race lined up, again with Kaspar as a known threat. A three man group from the New Haven Angels added a tinge of anxiety amongst the racers, since we all know that people from down south take crit racing seriously, and not just as the brief racing dalliance the CX fearing folk around here know it as.

The race began timidly with an increasing air of nonchalance, but an undercurrent of tension. Soon the race was strategically peppered with team attacks, meant to draw heavy hitters to close gaps or chase false breakaways. Sam Veggeberg and Ben Jankowski darted to the front causing panic and thinning the pack, though the New Haven trio answered with their own chicanery, getting a break from the peloton that slowly but surely drifted away.

The remaining, though sizable, chase group was unable to form a cohesive effort to chase, leaving Veggeberg, Jankowski, Kaspar and Mathers to try and close the gap, while teammates of New Haven’s George Elias, dropped back. No momentum could be maintained, and Elias would slip away to secure his victory.

Hijinks ensued behind, as nobody wanted to lead but for a few individuals who held out hope of catching Elias. Patrick Sullivan would make a bid for second place glory, only to be reeled in. As the lap count began to dwindle and the chase became less willing to burn matches in preparation of a bunch sprint for second and third, I found myself with an accidental gap, at nine laps to go, and capitalized on the opportunity by breaking away for what would become a second place finish.

The bunch sprint culminated in Jankowski taking the last podium spot, followed by Patrick Sullivan, Johnny Suarez, Logan Kaspar, Sam Veggeberg, Owen Scott, Tito, Joe Lellman and Dan Coady.

 

Photo Courtesy of Ben Jankowski

 

The rest of the night was filled with delicious tamales, succulent hand pies, and half-hearted congratulations among the participants.