Rock Racing 1-2 in Pro-Am Challenge
Rock Racing’s Sterling Magnell and Kayle Leogrande finished 1-2 in Saturday night’s Pro-Am Challenge, the warm-up to the Saab USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship at Downers Grove, Ill.
Magnell launched an attack with two corners to go on the figure-eight course, then held off the charging field on the slightly uphill finish to score Rock Racing’s 33rd win of the season.
“Sterling went past everyone going five or six kilometers an hour faster than everyone else,” Leogrande said. “It looked like he was shot out of a cannon.”
As Magnell blazed across the finish line, Leogrande jumped defending national criterium champion Kirk O’Bee (Health Net presented by Maxxis), who was also passed by third-place finisher Jonathan Cantwell (Jittery Joe’s Pro Cycling) in the final few meters.
The Rock Racing pair’s success was set up by teammates who covered moves throughout the 31-mile (50 km race). In the waning minutes of the race, it was Rahsaan Bahati who was the engine powering the team’s lead out. His Herculean effort came just a handful of laps after the 2000 amateur criterium champion stopped for a free lap following a flat tire.
“Rahsaan came up to me and asked, ‘Do you want to win?,’ ” Magnell said. “So I jumped on his wheel and Kayle followed. When I felt him slowing down coming into the second-to-last corner, I punched out and went for it.”
Magnelll’s move was reminiscent of the strategy that earned him a victory at the Great Downer Avenue Bike Race at the Point Premium Root Beer International Cycling Classic. It was one of two races the 25-year-old won while finishing second overall in the 17-day series.
“I had confidence I could hold my speed and hit out,” Magnell said of his now-signature move. “I also knew Kayle was right there and could win if I didn’t.”
More than 150 amateurs and professionals competed Saturday night. Sunday’s Saab USA Cycling Professional Criterium Championship is only open to licensed professionals. The 62-mile (100 km) event begins at 3 p.m. CST.
“The win tonight was good for the morale but we’re staying hungry,” Magnell said. “This was by no means our goal. (Winning) the national title is our No. 1 goal.”