The Miami Nights secured the overall team title for the inaugural National Cycling League (NCL) Cup racing series of US races on Sunday in Atlanta, Georgia. After second-placed Denver Disruptors, which trailed Miami by 16 points after round two in Denver, gained a few points in the women’s race, the Nights sealed the championship with a powerful last-lap surge by Clever Martinez.
Denver Disruptors finished second and Goldman Sachs ETFS Racing (women)/ Texas Roadhouse Cycling Team (men) were third place, confirming the placings that were set in Denver, Colorado headed to the third and final race.
Using points earned in the women’s races, CCB-Levine Law Group Cycling (women) & Foundation Cycling (men) leaped one spot into fourth place while a re-energised Fount Cycling Guild, which came into Atlanta in next-to-last place with just 10 points, vaulted to fifth place overall.
The Miami Nights set the tone on the final weekend by taking the most points at the Team Qualifier p/b Wahoo Fitness on Saturday and extending their lead. Street sprints of 150 metres were held at Bearing Bike Works in Atlanta to form Saturday’s start grid of teams and hand out early points.
Sunday presented a hot day for hot laps on the Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, temperatures rising to 91°F and the heat index soaring to triple digits on the tarmac. The seven-turn course on the one-mile handling circuit included three tight turns and four long straightaways with varying curves and undulations, quite different from a traditional city criterium.
In the women’s race on the winding test track, Fount Cycling dominated the laps, scoring 99 points while CCB-Levine Law took 88, as riders from both teams got away in a breakaway for 22 laps. The two squads kept the breakaway fresh with substitutions, which are allowed in the NCL Cup events prior to five laps to go, and scooped up the scores. CCB had a 65 to 62 point advantage over Fount with two laps to go, then Alia Shafi of Fount Cycling out-sprinted Natalie Quinn for the 30 points on the final lap.
The battle between the Miami Nights and the Denver Disruptors in the women’s race saw Denver take 4 more points than their rivals, but since Denver did not produce a score from qualifying, so Miami carried a stronger advantage into the final event with the men.
The men’s contest saw gaps develop among the 10 teams from the start of the 32 laps. A breakaway of seven riders developed, with single riders from Denver Disruptors,…