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Lunning loops to criterium victory

By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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Kris Lunning knew he had some speedy rivals chasing him down Sunday afternoon at the Sutter Auburn Faith Foundation Criterium. But the cyclist from Marin set the pace for virtually the entire 60 minutes and no one could keep up. Lunning took advantage of his speed on the steep Cherry Ave. descent and cruised to victory in the pro men’s race Sunday in Downtown Auburn. It was an impressive finish considering he raced on Saturday in Livermore at the Wente Road Race. “I was hurting from yesterday, but once I got out there I didn’t have anything to lose,” Lunning said. An early assault left Lunning out of sight of the closest pursuit. A trio of riders eventually caught him midway through the race, but he conserved some energy and made another push with two laps to go that left him alone in front. He took home a large chunk of the $1,500 purse. Jesse Moore was second and Jesse Miller-Smith, a Marc Pro Strava teammate of Lunning’s, placed third. The women’s title went to a familiar name. Jane Robertson of Davis out-sprinted Jenny Phillips and Kate Ligler to win the Auburn criterium for the second time in three years. In the first race of the day, Noah Campbell-Lund took first place in the men’s Elite 5 division. Matthew Valencia won the juniors race while Tracy Kroll was the top finisher in the Elite 3-4 women’s race. Dan Tebbs was right at home on the course that zooms past his Victory Velo bike shop in Downtown. Tebbs won the Masters 35-plus 4, 5 category race. He was also leading the Elite 4 race before running into mechanical trouble. Andre Christie swooped in to claim first place. Jack Maddux turned in perhaps the most impressive performance of the day. The 14-year-old from Fresno placed first in the Elite 3 division by a wide margin. Hundreds of riders competed in the race, which had riders looping through town for a set amount of time, according to their divisions. While there were fewer spectators than in years past, the riders were thrilled with the route, and the sunshine. “The course was amazing, super-fun,” Lunning said. “The climbs weren’t too hard and I could really gain time on the downhills. I knew there were some fast guys racing today, so I just wanted to stay near the front.”