Andy Dudle in action at the 2023 Wilmington Grand Prix. Photo: Ron Short.
They say that cycling is an individual sport conducted by teams, but that hides a truth. Rarely does an individual find success in the race without the efforts of a team. The annual Wilmington Grand Prix has historically proven to be a bit vexing for our team. The Criterium course in downtown Wilmington, DE is technical with elevation, and the race often seems to unfold in adverse weather. In 2018 Colin Kelly (Upper Black Eddy) took 2nd in the Men's Category 2/3 race, and Connor Thompson (Sinking Springs) won the same race in 2022. However we hadn't found that kind of success in the Men or Women's Pro Races there.
Connor Thompson winning the 2022 Men's CAT 2/3 Race at the Wilmington Grand Prix. Photo: Ron Short.
Predictably, a light rain in warm, humid conditions was on the menu for Saturday's criterium making the race course very treacherous. The Abus Automatic Racing Team immediately sent their whole team to the front in a blistering pace intended to blow the field to smithereens. Our team consisting of Sam Smith (Doylestown), Gui Nelessen (Lambertville), Colin Fitzgerald (Philadelphia), and Andrew Dudle (Emmaus) went right there with them which also served to keep them out of the crashes at the rear of the race.
Gui Nelessen at the finish of the 2023 Wilmington Grand Prix Criterium. Photo: Ron Short.
Sam managed to guess right and work his way into a break of eight riders who separated from the main field. Gui and Colin hung on to the remaining field and worked to control the race so that Sam and the break could stay away for a chance to win. We all hung on tight watching Sam go toe-to-toe with a strong group of sprinters in the uphill finish and finish 3rd overall behind Thomas Gibbons (Abus Automatic) and Seth Myerson (Cycle-Smart). This was arguably Sam and our team's best ever result given the difficulty of the race and depth of the talent on hand, and a testament to team work and team tactics. Full results here.
Sam Smith on the podium of the Men's Pro 1 Race at the 2023 Wilmington Grand Prix. Photo: Ron Short
Jessica Chong (Lehigh Valley) and Julianna Rutecki (West Chester) represented us in the Women's Pro 1 race finishing 4th and 5th respectively. Full results here. Jess reached the podium on Friday night's Monkey Hill Time Trial in which the racers complete a 3.2 course through Brandywine Park and then up the challenging cobblestone climb on Monkey Hill. They are back in action Saturday night at the Easton Twilight Criterium and on Monday (Memorial Day) at the 75th Annual Tour of the Somerville.
Jessica Chong 3rd at the 2023 Monkey Hill Time Trial. Photo: Gui Nelessen