Rahsaan Bahati (Bahati WTR) and Canyon Elite Women’s Racing landed on the top step of the podium in the men’s and women’s pro races Friday night at the El Tour de Mesa expo crits.
The races set the stage for the state championship races on Sunday.
“[I’m] happy that Mesa gave us an opportunity to race and do something we all love, and I really enjoyed the spectators cheering for the riders,” Bahati said. “It makes the race more enjoyable to have cheering fans.”
Bahati, who had to change a wheel in the middle of the race, stuck with the front group and waited to make a move until the last lap after Jetset Racing launched an attack after the first turn, a 180-degree bend.
“The finals laps played to my advantage, and I timed my sprint perfectly,” Bahati said.
A decorated professional cyclist and California native, Bahati lost last year to Arizona’s Brandon McNulty (LUX Development), now a junior Worlds time trial bronze medalist.
In the women’s pro race, Canyon Elite stole the show with five riders versus three in an eight-person field. The team controlled the race all the way to a sweep of the podium.
“We knew to sweep the podium we just needed to launch continuous attacks until something stuck,” said Reiley Pankratz, Canyon Elite’s team manager. “It was cool because we really go to work as a team tonight and everyone got their turn to be aggressive in the race.”
The team, sponsored by the race’s promoter Two Wheel Jones, also led the citizen’s ride.
USADA doping control
Meanwhile, Masters Men riders had a surprise visit from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials, who were on hand to check for performance-enhancing drugs, which was not an April Fool’s joke.
Race official Boris Decourt told Clipped In that six Masters Men riders were tested for doping and results are pending laboratory examination.
USA Cycling added a surcharge this year to various amateur bike racing categories to pay for doping control administered by USADA.
Suspicions have surfaced about a Masters doping epidemic in the United States and some riders have been caught.
More information on the State Championships on Sunday