Miami Nights win in Atlanta and take NCL Cup

By Justinian Hatfield
Miami Nights take NCL Cup
Miami Nights’ Clever Martinez reacts after winning the final sprint in this screenshot from the GCN broadcast of the final NCL cup race in Atlanta on Aug. 20.

A long breakaway in the women’s race upended the favorites of the final race in the NCL Cup, but the men’s race brought the favorites back with Miami winning the final sprint thanks to an unlucky pedal problem for Denver.

The race took place on a 90-degree day on The Porsche Experience Center racetrack in Atlanta on Aug. 20. The course consisted of 31 laps of a .9 mile course that featured three 180-degree turns.

“The course today dictated a lot,” said Miami’s Andrea Cyr. “It’s technical. The corners are tight and they have a speed limit to them. We wanted to be aggressive, but also smart. We’re really out here playing chess instead of checkers in a way.”

In both women’s and men’s races, once a breakaway was established, it was kept fresh with substitutions.

The NCL Cup qualifying race the night before was a 1,500-meter street sprint. Two riders from each team faced off in a round of 16 tournament-style elimination bracket. Miami’s Paulo Muñoz won the women’s division and Nick Trejo from Voler Factory Racing won the men’s division. After the qualifying round Miami started the main race with 16 points and a first row starting position.

In the women’s race, the Denver Disruptors, which didn’t score at all in the qualifier, started off strong with a presence in almost all sprints the first 5 laps. But then CCB-Levine Law and Fount Cycling Guild took advantage of substitutions and were able to form a two-woman breakaway and keep it going the entire race.

After seven laps, Miami had scored only three points, for a total of 19 while Denver managed to accrue 12. Roxo Racing was in second place with 18, followed by Goldman Sachs ETF with 14. Fount and CCB both had 11 points.

After 11 laps, the CCB strategy paid off and the team moved into first place with 23 points, followed by Miami and Roxo with 20 and Fount with 19. Denver, with 13, trailed behind Goldman Sachs’ 14.

With 14 laps to go, the CCB/Fount domination continued. with a 45-second gap over the peloton, CCB maintained a lead with 35 points and Fount, with 32 points, overtook Miami, which was in third place with 23.

As the laps rolled by, Denver and Miami were not able to catch the breakaway.

“Well, it looks like at the moment Miami and Denver are cancelling each other out and two other teams have taken advantage of that,” Denver Distruptors’ Matt Rice said. “CCB has 43 points, Fount has 39. Its a race between two teams right now. but with 12 laps to go, we’ll see what happens.”

With eight laps to go, the point spread continued to grow. CCB’s lead grew to 53 points and Fount’s to 49. Roxo moved up to third place with 24 points.

“It’s amazing, said Fount’s Ellexi Snover “We’ve got a little break out there. Me and my teammate every two or three laps were subbing out making sure we’ve got fresh legs. (We’re) using some great tactics making sure when we get into that last 100, 150 meters I can pounce right when it make sense and get those points.”

With five laps to go, no substitutions were allowed, so CCB’s Natalie Quinn and Fount’s Alia Shafi led the race in the breakaway.

Going into the last lap with 30 points on offer for first place, CCB’s total was 73 with Fount at 69. Shafi edged out Quinn in a sprint to take the 30 points, with Miami’s Munoz taking third place and 12 points.

Fount won the women’s race with 99, CCB took second with 88 and Miami was third with 37 points.

On the first lap of the Men’s race, the peloton was spread out nearly single file. Denver, Voler Factory Racing (Roxy on the women’s side) and Skyline took points over the first couple laps. A seven-man breakaway, with riders from Miami, Denver, Mike’s Bike, Goldman Sachs, and Texas Roudhouse, formed with 28 laps to go.

With 22 laps to go, the break shrunk to four riders with two from Miami, and one from Denver represented. The points continued to rise for the break as Miami accrued 47, and Denver came in at 39.

Kelly Benefits joined the seven-man break with 18 laps to go and the gap grew to nearly 40 seconds.

Halfway through the Men’s race, neither Fount nor Foundation had scored any points, but still led the race. Miami was in the third place with 67 points, followed by Denver with 49.

The breakaway split with three riders from Denver, Miami and Mike’s Bikes taking the lead with 11 laps to go. But then Denver took control and bridged a gap over Miami. A three-man group caught up with Denver with 8 laps left to go. Miami, still in third place, had 75 points with Denver trailing in fourth place with 61.

With seven laps to go, Texas Roadhouse and Mike’s Bikes led a two-man breakaway with Miami and Denver chasing 10 seconds behind.

With substitutions banned after five laps to go, Miami kept in Clever Martinez and Denver chose Reinhardt Van Rensburg, who soon caught the two-man breakaway.

With one lap to go, Miami was still in third place with 77 points to Denver’s fourth-place spot with 68.

Going into the sprint, the four-man group took it cautiously, until Martinez attacked. Van Rensburg answered, but his foot came unclipped from this pedal, giving Martinez the win and Miami the NCL Cup Championship.

Miami’s men’s team finished the race with 92 points and Texas Roadhouse came in second with 59 points and Denver third with 57. The overall results of the last race in the NCL Cup put Miami in first with 113, Fount in second with 99 and CCB in third with 88 points.

“This is very special because we’ve been working all year for the these last couple races.” said Miami Nights Director Sebastian Alexandre as he was being doused with water by Clever Martinez. “It’s awesome. This is a group of people who are very committed to the team. We’ve all made so many sacrifices to be where we are now and when you get to the race anything can happen.”

See coverage of the NCL Cup Miami Beach and NCL Cup Denver races.