Tulsa Tough: Luke Lamperti and Kendall Ryan win Blue Dome Criterium titles

The two favorites prevail in sprint finishes as the American Criterium Cup begins its eight-race series

The American Crit Cup (ACC) got underway with a twilight crit around the Blue Dome District in downtown Tulsa Friday with Luke Lamperti (Soudal Quick-Step) and Kendall Ryan (L39ion of Los Angeles) taking victories in two dominant sprint finishes.

The first of the eight races in the summer-long ACC series saw the fastest road racers in the American peloton take on day one of the three-day Tulsa Tough Omnium with a packed, eight-turn course offering a crowd-friendly Friday night race in a hot and humid early summer evening in Oklahoma.

In the women’s race, it was all about the women of L39ion of Los Angeles with their two sprinters Kendall Ryan and Alexis Magner finishing first and third in the field sprint for the Blue Dome title. Their teammates took the burden of pace-setting during the cagey final of the race that seemed destined to be a sprint from the first few laps. Skylar Schneider from Miami Blazers came across the line in second.

“It was an absolute mess actually,” Ryan said after the women’s race. “[The team] did an awesome job, we had to really adapt because we kept getting swarmed and there was no chance to get organized."

“Everyone is so strong so they’re all able to be there. But I’m proud of the girls for pulling it together in then being able to hit it so hard at the end.”

In the men’s race, Luke Lamperti was the pre-race favorite as the Soudal Quick-Step rider is coming off a breakthrough spring on the WorldTour. Not only did Lamperti win the final sprint ahead of Bryan Gomez (Reign Storm Racing) and Noah Granigan (Miami Blazers), but he also took the $1,000 bonus sprint with one lap to go.

Kendall Ryan locks down another win for the L39ion women in Tulsa

The women’s race kicked off as the day turned towards twilight on a hot day in Tulsa’s Blue Dome downtown district. With beer gardens and food trucks scattered along the course, the event brought thousands of spectators to the roadside for the 17th edition of the Tulsa Tough Omnium.

While the excitement was palpable and the women’s field was deep, the race was largely a stalemate as the two strongest teams of L39ion of Los Angeles and the Miami Blazers looked to control the race for their sprinters. While some of the other strong teams looked for their opportunities to get a breakaway going, the early stages of the race seemed to demonstrate the challenges that would face any would-be attackers as the likes of Laurel Rathburn, Llori Shapre and Yarley Salazar controlled the front of the race for the fast-finishing duo of Kendall Ryan and Alexis Magner.

Around the race’s halfway point the bell was rung for the ACC intermediate sprint points which raised the pace in the peloton as it was the first chance for the peloton to get point tallies on the board for the 2024 season-long ACC sprint competition, as well as a cash prize for the top three riders to cross the line. DNA Pro Cycling was the team that executed a mid-race lead out to perfect, placing two riders in the points as Rylee McMullen took the maximum points on offer.

After the sprint the race began to enter its final phase as attacks continued to roll and opposing teams tried to infiltrate the L39ion control of the front, causing constant shuffling in the peloton as the race counted down laps to what was becoming an inevitable sprint finale. This chaotic racing lasted until a crash with four laps to go broke apart the field just as L39ion pressed on the gas pedal.

One final $1,000 sprint preem for the first rider through the bell lap threatened L39ion’s control as LA Sweat surged to the front and claimed the extra cash, however, sitting right behind them was L39ion’s Rathburn who managed to keep the pace high following the bell and initiated the lead out that set up Ryan and Magner to hit the final straightaway and pull away from the field with the only contest coming from Skylar Schneider in the closing meters.

With the win and third-place finish, L39ion has jumped out to a quick 10-point lead in the ACC standings over DNA Pro Cycling. LA Sweat is third in the standings with 16 points, one shy of DNA.

Luke Lamperti takes care of business in a dominant sprint victory

After the women finished their race it was time for the men to race their 70-minute race around the Blue Dome course as dusk quickly turned to night over the heads of the spectators who were only just getting their party started.

The 125-rider-strong peloton, however, quickly fell into the same hectic rhythm as the women with small, tentative moves coming and going as some of the bigger teams seemed keen to keep things together for a sprint at the end of the night. In fact, for the duration of the race, only a few riders were able to get any gap and none of the testing moves managed to stay ahead of the charging peloton for a full lap.

At the ACC sprint point for the men, last year’s overall ACC winner Danny Summerhill was able to take the maximum points for the first time of asking in that competition.

While it was mostly the red jerseys of the Miami Blazers and the silver and green jerseys of L39ion of Los Angeles on the front of the race as the laps counted down, Reign Storm Racing and the WorldTour colors of the Soudal-Quick Step kit of Luke Lamperti, hawked the rear wheel of the leading trains. Lamperti in particular never left the top ten wheels of the race as he managed to move up and squeeze through gaps throughout the race at will.

Lamperti who has been a standout neo-pro for the Soudal Quick-Step team this spring and the three-time criterium champion looked poised to pounce when the L39ion of Los Angeles leadout train began to unravel as they ran out of number and lost their main sprinter, Justin Williams, in a crash with around four laps to go.

Nevertheless, in the confusion, the front of the race was suddenly left vacant with two laps to go, with the $1,000 gambler preem up for grabs. Sure enough, Lamperti darted from the wheels to win the money on the line before falling back into the draft as Reign Storm Racing brought a full team of four riders to the front. With Summerhill driving the pace for the Reign Storm train and his sprinter Alfredo Rodriguez it looked like they had the win well within their grasp.

Ultimately, Reign Storm would suffer a bad break in the final three corners as they lost one rider in a crash and Rodriguez had chain issues coming out of the last turn. That turn of fortune meant that Lamperti could explode from the wheels to take a commanding sprint victory ahead of Bryan Gomez who had been the last lead-out man for Reign Storm and Noah Granigan who managed to surf the wheels well to sprint to a third-place finish on night one of Tulsa Tough and ACC racing for 2024.