Hanson set to defend his title in High Point
U.S. Pro Criterium champion Ken Hanson will defend his title as he races through the streets of High Point on July 27 in the 2013 USA Cycling Professional Criterium National Championships, the nation’s premier biking competition.
The races are part of the four-day 2013 High Point Cycling Classic being held July 25 to 28. Along with the USA cycling championships, the High Point Cycling Classic will feature outdoor concerts, exhibitions by custom bicycle makers, an art show and a gallery of collectible vintage racing bicycles. Admission is free for all the events.
A criterium, or “crit” to biking insiders, is a high-speed, action-packed bike race in which individuals and teams speed around a short course of closed downtown streets. In High Point, the races will start and finish at the Mendenhall Transportation Terminal across from the Showplace furniture showroom building. High Point’s 1.3-mile crit course features a combination of high-speed turns and smooth road surfaces that creates excitement for racers and spectators alike. The pack of racers returns to the starting point every two to three minutes, continually jockeying for position until a final sprint to the finish.
Hanson and his 18-member team, Optum Pro Cycling, which is sponsored by Kelly Benefit Strategies, will arrive in High Point on July 25 to check out the course and to plan strategy. Each course has its own unique challenges, so riders arrive early to identify potential trouble areas, as well as opportunities for gaining the advantage.
“Even though we can review the course on the Internet and talk to other people about it, that only gives us a general idea of what to expect,” says Hanson. “We won’t get a good feel until we ride the course on our bikes and see the finish line. Riding the course is critical to developing and executing a successful race plan.”
The course dictates who rides in what position. Since Hanson is a sprinter, he will be in the front of the pack during the race. Other riders — including distance riders and generalists — will assist him during the ride so that he can conserve energy for the final lap. The Optum Pro Cycling team includes Eric Young, the winner of the 2011 U.S. Criterium, who is also expected to be a top contender in this year’s title.**
Hanson, who has raced professionally since 2007, just returned from an eight-day race in South Korea, where he helped teammate Young win two of the race’s eight stages. Earlier this year, Hanson scored two wins in Portugal and two third-place finishes against top-line opposition in Spain. He also tallied a stage win in the McLaine Pacific Classic in Merced, Calif.
During the 2013 racing season, which started in early February and ends in late September, Hanson and other racers ride 3.5 to 5 hours a day. During the preseason, training rides are longer, up to six hours a day, but less intense.
Before each race, Hanson likes to take a short nap “similar to what boxers do before a fight,” he says. He also makes sure to hydrate. “I always keep a bottle of water handy.”
“I’m excited to be coming to High Point to defend my national title,” says Hanson. “It’s a new course and a new venue. I’ve raced in Winston-Salem, Charlotte and Asheville but never in High Point. The talent level with these riders is so impressive.”