Although there will be well over 150 top professional cyclists competing in the upcoming Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic, there are four key riders to watch closely when the action unfolds Saturday afternoon.
Ben Renkema, the current USA CRITS points leader, will be racing with Palmetto State Medical Elite Cycling Team. In addition to being the team leader, he is also the co-owner.
In June, Renkema took first place in the Whiskey City Twilight Challenge, in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, followed by a top-ten finish at the Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium in Boise, Idaho.
Later in July, at the Criterium National Championships in Louisville, Kentucky, he beat out Dan Holloway and a strong field to claim victory in the Elite National Championship race. It would not be a surprise to see the same sort of sprinting outcome in this year’s Iron Hill Pro Men’s Criterium.
There is no question that Renkema can expect to find himself again challenged by Dan Holloway who earned back-to-back victories here in 2014 and 2015 before placing seventh last year in West Chester.
Holloway, who just turned 30 this May and currently rides for Texas Roadhouse Racing, is the 2017 Elite National Road Race Champion and the former Professional and Elite National Criterium Champion. Holloway always races strongly in West Chester, and it can be assumed that spectators can expect more of the same this year.
In this year’s Brumbaugh Wealth Management Pro Women’s Criterium there are two riders to follow throughout the race: Tiffany Pezzulo riding for LA Sweat and Laura Van Gilder mainstay of Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers.
For Tiffany Pezzulo, this will be the fourth time she’ll be competeing in West Chester. Known as “The Italian Stallion,” Tiffany is the current USA CRITS points leader having raced strongly in three lead-up races to Saturday’s event, finishing 11th in Athens, Georgia at the Athens Orthopedic Clinic Twilight Criterium; 8th in Winston Salem, North Carolina, at the Winston Salem Cycling Classic; and 2nd in Boise, Idaho at the Andersen Banducci Twilight Criterium.
In 2015 Pezzulo was the USA CRITS overall pro-woman champion, finishing 3rd in West Chester that same year. Pezzulo promises that she and her LA Sweat teammates “will have different cards to play this time out because we have good sprinters and breakaway riders.”
Well known to racing fans all over the United States, Laura Van Gilder, riding for Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers, has an unprecedented five wins here and will be returning this year in an effort to make it six.
The Poconos native, has been riding professionally since 1992, winning over 400 races throughout her long career. She is the winningest female in the United States. In 2002 and 2005 Van Gilder represented the USA in the UCI Road World Championships and took the national title in the 2017 Women’s 50-54 Cyclocross National Championships in Hartford, Connecticut.
The take-away is that this year bike-racing fans can expect highly animated racing action in both the Iron Hill Pro Men’s Criterium and the Brumbaugh Wealth Management Pro Women’s Criterium.
The Benchmark Twilight Cycling Classic is presented by the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce. For more information on the day’s events, go to www.GreaterWestChester.com.