If you noticed more cyclists riding through Arlington over the weekend, it likely wasn’t because of a randomly massive influx of tourists all using Capital Bikeshare. Rather, June 8 and 9 marked this year’s iteration of the Air Force Association Cycling Classic, which — while undeniably a mouthful — is touted as “the region’s premier cycling event.”
Day 1 of the AFACC took place in the Clarendon neighborhood, with racers of all ability levels being tested throughout the day on a 1-km course taking riders through many of the city’s main streets. Amateur races kicked off the day’s action, followed by a women’s Pro/Am and the men’s professional race, the central event of the competition.
There weren’t any huge, mainstream cycling names in action (i.e. – Lance Armstrong was not, in fact, there) but a host of high-quality international pros did come out for both days of the event. Slovenian Aldo Ino Ilesic of team United Healthcare brought home the Clarendon Cup for the first day of the AFACC, deftly navigating the course’s five turns to emerge with the win:
“When they stepped on it, they stayed on it,” race announcer Richard Fries said of the UnitedHealthcare riders’ ability to position themselves to push Ilesic to the front. “The thing about this race is you think the riders can’t go any faster, and then, with 10 laps to go, they start going so much faster. It’s visible for the crowd. It was unreal speed.”
Ilesic wouldn’t be able to keep it up on the second day of the AFACC, finishing 53rd out of 64 when the setting shifted to Crystal City on Sunday, but his trophy — which has been given out annually since the Clarendon Cup’s first go-round in 1998 — was likely enough to ease the disappointment.
Argentine Juan Jose Haedo, who was 11th in Clarendon, took advantage of the vacuum at the top to claim victory on Sunday. His team, Jamis-Hagens Berman, placed two racers right behind Ilesic the day before but had proven unable to pull ahead.
But while a list of exact finish times was not released, it’s highly unlikely that either of the two men’s professional races topped the women’s Clarendon Pro/Am in terms of close finishes. 19-year-old Allison Arensman, whom Cycling News called “a relative unknown,” pushed Team TIBCO’s Amanda Miller right to the finish line, ultimately falling by 0.08 seconds after a final sprint.
“This was Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed,” Fries said. “Arensman was brilliant. She was opportunistic and took advantage of the TIBCO defense. It took all of Team TIBCO to fend her off in the sprint.”
For District cycling fans, it looks to have been quite the spectacle.
[Featured Image via ARLnow]