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Charlotte Criterium attracts new racing team

Saturday, April 30, the streets of uptown will become a one-mile race course for several hundred riders for the Charlotte Criterium presented by Novant Health, one of USA Cycling’s 3,000 annual sanctioned events. According to race director Thad Fischer, this race has helped raise $6 million for the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas since its inception in 2004.

More than 30,000 spectators are expected to line the streets with an additional 40,000-50,000 more watching through webcasts, UltraSport.TV and Cycling News. Watching the riders maneuver through eight tight corners, all while keeping an intense pace, from 25-40 mph, is exciting.

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Vying for a piece of the action is the American Dornier team, new to the local cycling scene. This past December, they formed an official USA Cycling team with eight members. Their namesake and title sponsor, American Dornier, a German company with US headquarters in Charlotte and several other sponsors including Unknown Bike and Brew and Bottom Line Realty and Management share their goals to develop junior riders (under age 18) and raise money for MS research. They raised $30,000 in 2015, and are on target to double that amount in 2016. Currently, they have three junior riders, two of who will compete in the Amateur Shootout Race tomorrow.

Samantha Bendt, Rock Hill Time Trial

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Samantha Bendt, 37, is an occupational therapist, mom to two children and cyclist on the American Dornier team. She is racing in the Professional Women’s race. Bendt’s training includes intense intervals, active recovery days and core strengthening. On Mondays, she leads an all-women’s ride that starts at Uptown Cycles. Her Tuesdays are reserved for the infamous Orr Road, an unofficial organized race for serious riders.

Theresa O’Sullivan at the Dilworth Criterium

Photo 4 Credit Neill Pounder

Ireland native Theresa O’Sullivan, 33, met the members of the American Dornier team at an Unknown Bike & Brew event in the fall. She was new to Charlotte and members instantly recognized her strong riding skills and recruited her to the team.

Photo 5 Credit Neill Pounder


Bendt and O’Sullivan acknowledge that they are competing against notable athletes, national and international champions and Olympians who do this professionally. Bendt hopes to keep up the intense speed and finish the race.

O’Sullivan said, “I hope I hold my own. I am excited about Saturday and to see where I go and what I do.”

Details for Saturday, April 30, 2016

5 p.m. Amateur Shootout Race

• 30 minute race

• 125 riders expected

• Riders are 16 years old and above, Category 2 and 3 riders

• $2,000 total prize purse plus lap premes

6 p.m. Professional Women’s Race

• 25 miles

• 75 riders

• $15,000 total prize purse plus lap premes

7:30 p.m. Professional Men’s Race

• 50 miles

• 125 riders

• $15,000 total prize purse plus lap premes

Spectator Pro Tips

• Event is free.

• Walk the course for different vantage points or bring chairs to pop a squat.

• Last laps of race and preme laps are most exciting.

• Start/Finish line located at Trade and Tryon.

Photos: Vanessa Infanzon, Charlotte Criterium, Samantha Bendt, Neill Pounder

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