Connor Sallee, Graham Lang, and Lewis Almonte all made the early registration cut off and the required Category Three ranking necessary to compete at National Championships this year. So the team was a bit lean in representation in the rolling hills of Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. Lewis Almonte blazed the funky out and back time trial course, held on the butt-end of a local highway, well out of the way of any possible walk-by spectating…and we wonder why cycling is a ?fringe? sport in the US. But I digress. Lewis Almonte posted the fourth fastest time for most of the day, until one by one the favorites came in. Lew would eventually finish 19th, out of 157 starters, not bad for a bantam weight climber/sprinter from the Heights! Connor Sallee was 49th and Graham Lang 102nd.
The road race was almost tragic for the team. The Junior 17-18 division had the unholy start time of 7:30AM and the rolling, technical circuit, was under fog in many parts. Less than five km into the 91km stage, on a 50mph descent, the peloton flew into an impenetrable bank of fog. Around twenty riders went down, two flew over a guardrail and sustained injuries requiring a helicopter evacuation. Only Connor Sallee was ahead of the crash. Lewis Almonte received the mother of all tire burns when the rider behind him plowed into his calf at high speed. Lewis didn?t go down but the burn was painful enough that he decided to withdraw and get the wound treated. Graham Lang managed to stay upright as well but was forced to wait for the crash to clear before emerging from the fog with a group of riders over a minute back on the remains of the field.
As loyal team director sportif, parents, and special guests bombed through the bucolic countryside of Western Pennsylvania trying to find an alternative route around the crash, and get to the feed zone, Connor Sallee soldiered on in the main group, his rations running low. The support crew did get to the feed in time to give now-dry Sallee a bottle in the final 15 kilometers of the race. On the final climb to the resort summit of Seven Springs Sallee buried himself, finishing 45th out of 70 remaining riders.