Contributed by Joe Gaines:
National Criterium Championships, Downers Grove, Illinois
Taylor Gaines, Bloomington, Indiana won the Junior (15-18) category Criterium Bicycle Race at the National Criterium Championships in Downers Grove, Illinois August 16, 2008. He won in convincing fashion with a solo breakaway with 5 laps to go on the 1.2 mile course through downtown Downers Grove holding off a charging field of riders representing some of the best junior riders in the Mid-west. His win came on his 16th birthday, August 16, 2008. The National Championship race capped a good race season for Gaines, who rides for Team Tortuga, a Bloomington based bicycle racing club. His season results included several 1st place finishes in the Junior (15-16) category including the Indiana Road Race Championships and the Pur Tour in Ohio. Taylor also had impressive finishes in the men’s category 4 races throughout the season with 3rd place in the Marion Classic and a top ten finish at the Norton Commons Criterium in Louisville, Kentucky. Taylor was also a member of the Bloomington South Solar Bike national championship team.
The Downers Grove National Championship Criterium has been held for the past 22 years and crowns the national professional criterium champion. This year’s professional field included Christian Vandevelde, Garmin/Chipotle Team, the top US rider in the 2008 Tour de France having finishing 5th overall in the Tour. Interestingly, Vandevelde employed a breakaway late in the race similar Taylor’s strategy, but was eventually swallowed up by the field of more than 100 riders. Rashaan Bahati, of Rock Racing, won the professional race in a final field sprint and earned the right to wear the stars and stripes for the next year.