Bahati Wins 2008 USA Cycling Pro Criterium Championship
Rahsaan Bahati’s earlier today won the Saab USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship.
Bahati out-sprinted Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies presented by Medifast) and third-place finisher Mark Hekman (Toshiba-Santo Pro Cycling) at the end of the 62-mile (100 km) race to join Rock Racing teammate Justin Williams as a winner of the coveted stars-and-stripes national championship jersey.
Earlier this month, Williams captured the USA Cycling Under-23 National Criterium Championship in Anaheim, Calif. It is believed to be the first time two African-Americans have earned national cycling titles in the same discipline in the same season.
“This has got to be some type of history,” Bahati said after notching his ninth win and receiving a congratulatory call from Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball. “There is definitely some significance to it. Perhaps we won’t see it now, but in the future it will carry some weight.”
Bahati said his second victory at Downers Grove fulfills a season-long goal.
“It was a huge relief to come across the line with my arms up,” Bahati said. “Candelario, Hekman and I came into the last turn NASCAR style – pretty much stacked three-wide with me in the middle. But once we got into the straightaway and I got the gear going, I knew I had it.”
Earlier this spring, things didn’t look so promising for the 26-year-old. He nearly ended his season prematurely after learning that his right thigh bone was overgrown. It created constant pain in his upper thigh on each pedal stroke. Ultimately, he decided against undergoing surgery to correct the problem. That led to wins in Athens and Manhattan Beach and a spot on Rock Racing’s squad for the Tour of Britain next month.
“I told him he’s the fastest man on this planet,” Ball said. “There’s not a race in the world that he can’t win and I believe that whole-heartedly.”