Before the current norm of instant race results via the world wide web, one’s expectations of timely race reporting now seems downright glacial in pace. Back in the days of Velonews residing in Brattleboro, Vt., I read about Spring Classics approximately three weeks to one month after they took place and it was still news. With that in mind, relaying info about Bank of America ten days after the fact would be a rush story in the 1980s. Since I’m on a 1980s publication schedule, it’s only appropriate that two riders in their prime during the 1980s caught my attention during the BoA race. Due to their lack of a finishing place they truly lurked under the radar in published accounts of the event. Perhaps looking to duplicate the success of last year’s Euro pro guest rider Zoran Klemencic, the Charlotte based OLP team secured the services of the rejuvenated British speedster/phoenix Malcolm Elliott. The 44 year old Elliott was sitting pretty on the last lap, but was the victim of the first (of two) crashes occurring within the final 700 meters. You may have seen the video (sorry, I don’t know who’s this is or else I’d provide credit). Front and center, #85 in the green and yellow kit, is Malcolm Elliott hitting Charlotte asphalt. I spoke with him briefly at the finish line post-race, just before he headed back to his hotel, and he seemed rather calm considering he seemed to be a shoe-in for at least a top 10 finish and a decent influx of cash. Elliott appeared remarkably unscathed, likely due to his explanation of landing on somebody during the crash. He took it all in stride and proceeded to roll off into the darkness.
1980s flashback number two was delivered by America’s version of Adri Van Der Poel: the ever-fit, lanky ‘cross and road maven Steve Tilford (riding this particular evening for Texas Roadhouse?, not sure). Here’s a man who won his first national title the year I took out a USCF license (1983), a man who kitted up in stars & stripes for the 1986 pro road worlds in Colorado and the 1989 pro road worlds in Chamberry, France alongside Greg LeMond, and most assuredly the only competitor who’s a Hall of Famer. Unfortunately for the 45 year old Tilford, despite having several recent top 20 finishes at this year’s SuperWeek, I saw him get popped between turns 2 and 3 about half way through the race. Of course, Radisa Cubric scored one for the over 40 crowd by finishing BoA in 12th place (which is just what us 35+ guys needed to hear on the start line the following day for the festival of speed in Concord, NC, a race which Cubric won).
I guess I don’t have too much more to say about BoA besides marvelling at 30,000-40,000 people getting together on a balmy summer evening to check out a bike race conducted in the heart of NASCAR nation. Why can’t there be more downtown extravaganzas like this? It seems that plenty of corporations are rolling in cash these days, and I’m sure fronting $175,000 is chump change for the likes of Bank of America. The total purse at the PGA championship was $6,500,000, but for a piddly $175,000 Bank of America got the best riders in the US and the moniker “the richest criterium in the world”. Sounds like a bargain to me.
I found it odd that the only US pro team missing from the start line was Discovery Channel. Well, maybe it isn’t so odd considering they’re a ProTour team with bigger fish to fry than amped up US criteriums, but they’ve seemed to always have at least a token presence at domestic events over the years. Discovery hasn’t been stateside much this year, other than Tour of Georgia, USPRO week, and a few random events when Tony Cruz, Lance Armstrong, or George Hincapie were hanging out in the US during lulls in their programs. I guess with the advent of the ProTour and the demise of UCI points Discovery needed their riders in Europe in order to field teams at multiple events across the Continent. Even guys who I thought would be in the US, such as Mike Creed, Jason McCartney, or Patrick McCarty, are all suited up and racing post-Tour stage races on the Continent.
BoA photos here.