Past Sunny King champions return to Anniston


Among the wealth of talent lining up at the 2013 Sunny King Criterium, a staple of the USA Cycling National Criterium Calendar (NCC), are several of the race’s past champions. The event, which is set once again to take place at the center of Anniston, Alabama’s Noble Street Festival on the 20 of April, will be revisited not only by 2012 winners Issac Howe (Team Smartstop presented by Mountain Khakis) and Erica Allar (CARE4Cycling powered by Solomon Corp), but by a host of previous victors including Hilton Clarke and Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare), Howe’s teammate Frank Travieso and veteran women riders Laura Van Gilder (Mellow Mushroom Racing) and Tina Pic (Colavita-Fine Cooking).
The 2013 Sunny King Criterium will feature a stellar field of competitors. (Photo by Philip Darden)
The 2013 Sunny King Criterium will feature a stellar field of competitors. (Photo by Philip Darden)
“Sunny King has that gradual uphill to the finish, which is a cool aspect of that course,” says 2008 winner Hilton Clarke. “It’s really a tough sprint out of the last corner. (But) our team has a lot of experience together at this point, so I think right now it’s playing to our advantage a bit. The team has a really good system going, and we’ve just hit the ground running this year.”
Teammate Karl Menzies, who’s been a key part of Clarke’s unbroken string of victories this year, stood atop the Sunny King podium back in 2009, and fondly remembers the ambience on the night of his victory.
“It’s a great atmosphere (there),” says Menzies recalling that evening four year ago. “I love that race. The people there are awesome. You never know what can happen at that race. I won out of a two-man breakaway with Kyle Wamsley, but people have won it from sprints, people have lapped the field, and people have won it from breakaways. It’s one of the courses where you have to be ready for anything.”
That’s a sentiment echoed by 2007 winner Frank Travieso.
“The year that I won my team controlled the race with one lap to go,” remembers the former Sunny King champion who has joined the Team Smartstop presented by Mountain Khakis team for this season. “Colavita was working during the last lap for Alejandro Borrajo, but I passed him right on the line. It was a big moment for me and my team.”
That same year Laura Van Gilder took the women’s title, and is returning to Anniston in 2013 virtually as solid as she has ever been.
“My form is strong heading into Sunny King,” says Van Gilder, who’s had a number of top 5 finishes already this year. “I’m happy to remain competitive and enjoy mixing it up with all the women who are pedaling on the racing circuit. My sponsor, Mellow Mushroom, is in Anniston and I am very loyal to those roots and their support of me.”
One of the women who she’ll be facing is Sunny King's sole two-time winner Tina Pic, who has returned from retirement to reinvigorate the Colavita-Fine Cooking squad.

"(The race) always has fantastic crowd support," says Pic. "The course is great because of the uphill (rise) at the end, and the wins are always hard fought."

Many of the same riders racing on Saturday night will also be participating in the annual Foothills Classic Road Race on Sunday the 21st and features over 3000 feet of climbing throughout the day’s effort.  
Heralded as a Top 10 event in Alabama by the state's tourism bureau, those fans in attendance are treated to views from all around the course via a large full-color monitor.
“I love the big screen (on the course) where you can see all the spectators screaming to the riders,” says Frank Travieso.
For those not able to get to Anniston in person, the race will once again be seen can once again be seen online at a number of locations including:
Tune in live from 12-9:30 p.m. Central to catch all of the excitement from one of the most cherished and exciting cycling events on the U.S. professional calendar.

This Article Updated April 19, 2013 @ 06:04 PM For more information contact: