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National Series

American Criterium Cup: Ryan and Castillo win at LHM|CC Salt Lake Criterium

By: Logan Jones-Wilkins  July 09, 2024

Kendall Ryan and Ulises Castillo take top honors at the fourth stop of the American Criterium Cup

Kendall Ryan of L39ion of Los Angeles and Ulises Castillo of iSpeed-Felt won in the shadow of the Wasatch Mountains on stop four of the ACC at the Salt Lake Criterium p/b LHM|CC on Sunday.

In the women’s race, Kendall Ryan took the victory from a sprint out of a small group that escaped early in the women’s race. She was joined in the breakaway by several of the race's strongest riders and they quickly built a gap that was clear to go to the line.

Ultimately, it was a close sprint with the current ACC leader Skylar Schneider of the Miami Nights, but Ryan came out on top just as she had in Tulsa on stop one, while Shannon Koch of Kingdom Elite was third.

The men’s race was a much cagier affair with many moves starting, but few gaining traction. Big teams moved and other big teams covered those accelerations on a course that was demanding, but without the difficulty that seemed needed to break apart the field.

When the elastic did snap there was only one lap to go as Ulises Castillo hit the front on the hill under the line and took the bell with massive speed. Castillio immediately put a decisive gap into the rest of the field and held it to the line ahead of Jordan Parra and Danny Summerhill of REIGN Storm Racing.

Skylar Schneider retained her lead in the ACC overall for the women while Jordan Parra ascended to the red jersey for the men. In the race for the mid-race sprint point green jersey Rylee McMullen held onto her lead in the jersey despite missing out on full points in Salt Lake. Danny Summerhill was also second in his ACC mid-race sprint point and extended his lead in that competition.

Kendall Ryan bosses the breakaway

The women’s race set off in the middle of a beautiful summer afternoon in the Salt Lake suburb of Sandy, Utah. The course was unorthodox with a few sweeping turns and a punchy uphill to the line along the course that runs around America First Field, the home to the Real Salt Lake MLS club and the Utah Royals NWSL team.

Historically, Salt Lake City is the hottest stop on the ACC. Fortunately for the riders, this year it was not quite as scorching with temps hovering around 86 degrees. Furthermore, a breeze blowing from the north made the temperatures even more comfortable, even if it made for a slight headwind coming into the hill up to the finish line.

Between the hill and the wind the race was always likely to tilt in favor of a breakaway and the field responded with a ton of aggressive racing early. Around 20 minutes into the race, the gaps started to form before the race opened up as several of the favorites found their way off the front.

Seven riders formed the breakaway leading into the mid-race sprint with Ryan, Schneider, Koch, Rylee McMullen, and Shayna Powless of DNA Pro Cycling, Jenna Nestman of Goldman Sachs EFT Racing, and Arielle Verhaaren of Automatic Abus Racing quickly getting to work forming a gap that would grow each lap as the group behind tried to rally with only a few teams left to try to catch the team leaders who stole the march ahead.

In the ACC mid-race green jersey sprint, Schneider surprised McMullen and took the top points for the day. While she was unable to vault McMullen in the standings on that result, Schneider has closed the gap to only two points. That competition is very much still in play as more points are awarded to races later in the series, so expect Schneider to continue to put more pressure on McMullen as the ACC races continue this summer.

As the race rolled into its second half, the result crystalized as the breakaway kept its control of the time gap ahead of the peloton. Additionally, the two fastest sprinters in the race were both in the breakaway as Ryan and Schneider have been dominant in sprints where they had the chance to race for the win this season.

The DNA Pro Cycling pair made a good effort to try to break things apart, as did Verhaaren, but the power and speed of the pair in the finish were overwhelming. On this day, the kick from Ryan was enough to dispatch Schneider as the L39ion of Los Angeles sprint had a clean set of wheels to celebrate her second ACC win of the summer after her triumph in Tulsa.

“It was unexpected, I wasn't planning to be in the break, I was trying to initiate for Alexis [Ryan] who wanted to go for it,” Ryan said after the finish. “I guess I ended up getting in the magic combination, so I tried to be smart be smooth and conserve as much as possible so I’d have energy for the end.”

Race results

  1. Kendall Ryan (L39ion of Los Angeles)

  2. Skylar Schneider (Miami Blazers)

  3. Shannon Koch (Kingdom Elite)

  4. Rylee McMullen (DNA Pro Cycling)

  5. Arielle Verhaaren (AUTOMATIC-Abus)

  6. Jenna Nestman (Goldman Sachs ETF Racing)

  7. Shayna Powless (DNA Pro Cycling)

  8. Alexis Magner (L39ion of Los Angeles)

  9. Makayla Macpherson (DNA Pro Cycling)

  10. Samantha Schneider (Miami Blazers)

ACC Standings

  1. Skylar Schneider (Miami Blazers) – 55 points

  2. Rylee McMullen (DNA Pro Cycling) – 35 points

  3. Arielle Verhaaren (AUTOMATIC-Abus) – 35 points

  4. Kendall Ryan (L39ion of Los Angeles) – 30 points

  5. Makayla Macpherson (DNA Pro Cycling) – 27 points

Ulises Castillo steals the show

The men’s race started shortly after the women finished their race with 70 minutes of racing on tap between a strong field of over 100 riders.

After a couple of rounds of ACC domination by REIGN Storm Racing, including a 1-2-3 sweep the previous night of the Salt Lake Criterium Omnium in Provo. Danny Summerhill came into the race as the big favorite since he was the winner of the Salt Lake ACC stop in 2023 and two of his teammates, Bryan Gomez and Jordan Parra, began the race as first and third in the ACC overall standings.

Opposite to REIGN Storm Racing were L39ion of Los Angeles and the Miami Blazers who were both at the race with full teams of six riders after a couple of races where they only had a couple of riders in attendance. With those three teams set to be the main aggressors on a course suited for attacks, the race started fast and furious and stayed that way. New attacks seemed to launch around every turn with each lap bringing different names to the front of the peloton.

Ultimately, the race was hard enough to keep the pressure on but easy enough to sit in and stay relatively fresh. With this dynamic governing racing, the frenetic game of cycling shoots and ladders that came from the attack, counter-attack, chase, and catch cycle continued incessantly throughout the race until the final lap.

What was clear through the racing was REIGN Storm's willingness and ability to control through being present and accounted for in every could-be move as they were flawless in their execution. Nevertheless, that changed at the last moment when Castillo made his dig leading into the final bell.

When he accelerated through the line he was chased by Summerhill. Summerhill, who looked rock solid throughout the whole race, finally had a grimace on his face as he turned back in the hope that someone could weld back together what looked like a decisive move.

Alas, Castillo had the strength and the timing to take the lead he forged through the line at the bell to finish the next lap with a memorable win ahead of Parra and Summerhill who managed to salvage their day with a big point haul for the ACC overall standings.

“I felt that the peloton was being really aggressive with people trying to take the lead, so I was a little scared of the sprint finish,” Castillo said after his win. “I was feeling good so I said to myself ‘ok, let's take it from far as hard as I can,’ so it just was the perfect moment. People were going hard and some riders were coming back so I tried it and it worked, they opened the gap and I did the best I could.”

Race results

  1. Ulises Castillo (iSpeed-Felt)

  2. Jordan Parra (REIGN Storm Racing)

  3. Danny Summerhill (REIGN Storm Racing)

  4. Alfredo Rodriguez (REIGN Storm Racing)

  5. Lucas Bourgoyne (Austin Outlaws)

  6. Clever Martinez (Rockland Development)

  7. Jack Shuckra (Cliff Family Drifters)

  8. Adin Papell (iSpeed-Felt)

  9. Mateo Garcia (CRCA/Foundation)

  10. Ben Oliver (Above and Beyond Cancer Cycling Team)

ACC Standings

  1. Jordan Parra (REIGN Storm Racing) – 42 points

  2. Danny Summerhill (REIGN Storm Racing) – 32 points

  3. Alfredo Rodriguez (REIGN Storm Racing) – 31 points

  4. Bryan Gomez (REIGN Storm Racing) – 29 points

  5. Clever Martinez (Rockland Development) – 29 points

Photo credit: @veloimages