Danny Summerhill Wins Rainy Reading 120, Jones Completes Podium in Third
Danny Summerhill overcame treacherous conditions to take a solo win at the Reading 120 road race for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team on Saturday. The inaugural classic-style road race is contested over the winding farm roads of rural Pennsylvania. With rain squalls blowing through the area overnight, the peloton rolled out for the 120-mile (193 kilometer) race under threatening skies. Perhaps motivated by the adverse conditions, breakaway groups flew off the front of the race from the gun. Tanner Putt and Danny Summerhill raced into an important 13-rider move that gained three minutes on the main pack early in the race.
After 118 kilometers of racing through the farming communities of rural Pennsylvania, the field returned to downtown Reading for five laps of the tight and fast 15-kilometer finishing circuit. Patience was the virtue of the day for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. With Summerhill and Putt in the breakaway, the rest of the team patrolled the front of the pack, ensuring nothing could escape. The 3.5-kilometer climb on the circuit shredded the breakaway, reducing the number to seven riders off the front. As the break began to tire, solo moves began to escape. With the rain now falling heavily, the main peloton was mired with crashes that slowed the pace and hindered the chase. Kiel Reijnen and Jonny Clarke both went down in late stage crashes, escaping without injury but exiting the race. On the third lap up the circuit climb, Putt made a daring solo attack, putting his competitors under stress and setting up teammate Summerhill for the final move.
In the late race chaos, Christopher Jones bridged across towards the escapees from the main field, adding to the Team UnitedHealthcare numbers at the front of the race. Just as Toms Skujins (Hincapie Racing) joined, Summerhill put in a ferocious attack. The pair gained 50 seconds on the chasers. With the field bearing down on them, the two riders knew that cooperating until the final kilometers was the only way to survive.
The slippery roads and tight turns favored the daring and exceptionally skilled riders willing to take chances. On the final decent, Summerhill launched an attack with one kilometer remaining and held Skujins off by four seconds on the line. The rain-drenched roads caused many splits in the main field, and Jones was able to hang on for third place, rounding out the podium. Typically a selfless support rider for his UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Teammates, the monumental effort in Pennsylvania marked Summerhill’s first ever road race victory as a professional. Summerhill commented, “After the crashes changed our race plan, Tanner rose to the occasion and handled it like a true professional. I absolutely couldn’t have done it without his attacks and work on the front making the race hard. It’s incredible to have a teammate like him, willing to ride his heart out for the team. Chris, Tanner, and I thrive in these kinds of conditions, so it was great to pull it off and take the win today.”