Black and blue is how announcer Chad Andrews described the pack -- both for the color jerseys out front and for how the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team was taking it to rival squads.
Andrews, who sounds as if he is fueled by energy drinks, calls cycling races all over the continent with the aid of a microphone and numerous speakers. He told those lining the course Tuesday at the fifth annual Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic what to expect. He knew. He had seen it many times before.
UnitedHealthcare -- with three riders who lapped the field during the men's race -- formed a train of eight out front for much of the night, the lead group melting with the pack to form a string of black and blue. And Hilton Clarke, an Australian who joined the team last year after this race, bided his time behind teammates until sprinting out of the final turn to victory under the lights on Bay Street.
"They took me all the way to the last corner," Clarke said. "When a team does that for you, you just wait, you're very calm. And that's the key to doing your best sprint at the end."
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The win was the second for Clarke in the event. He also won in 2008. But it was his first victory in Beaufort as member of UnitedHealthcare, which he begged to join last year to team with his brother, Jonathan.
The race Tuesday was part of the USA Crits Speedweek. UnitedHealthcare has claimed two of the three races to start the series after failing to win in Athens, Ga., this past Saturday. The snub motivated the team to race harder the remainder of the week.
Clarke said he and his teammates want to be known as "The Crit Squad."
The Colavita team has dominated Speedweek on the women's side after sweeping all seven events last year. Team member Rushlee Buchannan broke away late Tuesday to win the Classic for a second consecutive year. Teammate Theresa Cliff-Ryan, who won the first two events this week, finished second on Tuesday.
Cliff-Ryan enjoyed a 16-second lead before being brought back to the pack. Each Colavita member took their turn making runs. In the end, it was Buchannan with the opening.
The New Zealand native said she enjoyed the tougher courses, and that the setup through downtown Beaufort suited her.
"It's technical; it's windy," she said. "I like the hard courses where you really have to dig deep."
Clarke also acknowledged the course, and told the crowd after the race how much he enjoyed their city. He spent plenty of time taking it in, sitting behind six of his teammates for much of the race, though a lap ahead of most of them.
On the final stretch, he used a bit of insider knowledge to hug the left rail and coast to the win.
"With my guys, it's an easy ride," he said. "They really looked after me."
Fifth-annual Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic
For full results, visit www.usacrits.com/speedweek
Men's Top 10
Hilton Clark, UnitedHealthcare
Iuca Damiani Kenda Pro Cycling
Carlos Alzate Escobar, Team Energy
Karl Menzies, UnitedHealthcare (tied fourth)
Eric Marcotte, no team (tied fourth)
Tom Scully, Chipotle Development Team
Andrew Dahlheim, Bissell Pro Cycling
Craig Logan, no team
Andrew Gonzalez, Elbowz Racing
Raymond Kreder, Chipotle Development Team
Women's Top 10
Rushlee Buchannan, Colavita/Forno d'Asolo
Theresa Cliff-Ryan, Colavita/Forno d'Asolo
Christina Gokey-Smith, Rouse Bicycles
Laura Van Gilder, Mellow Mushroom
Erica Allar, RideClean
Jennifer Purcell, Rooster
Lauren Hall, Colavita/Forno d'Asolo
Tiffany Pezzulo, Primal
Edita Janeliunaite, Colavita/Forno d'Asolo
Nicky Wangsgard, Primal