This is the picture of a very happy man. Rahsaan Bahati surprised the crowd, the field, and himself with a win at the 10th CSC Invitational, beating out a field full of strong challengers. Ivan Stevic of Toyota-United takes second, with Hilton Clarke of Navigators in third.
The race, which bills itself as the "hardest crit in America", was 100 laps of a tight 1km course in hot and sunny weather. While this race has historically started hard, many were surprised to see Victor Rapkinski make an early breakaway which came within 15 or so seconds of lapping the field before the teams were ordered to drop the hammer and shut down his chances of rejoining the peloton from behind.
The remainder of the race was a series of small battles for some of the higher value premiums (JJ Haedo found a pair of Dura Ace wheels worth his effort), with Navigators generally setting the pace of the peloton.
Approaching the last few laps, CSC train started looking like it was working to launch Haedo, while a Toyota-United team (without Ivan Dominguez) made it clear that they weren't giving the race away to anyone.
It was Rahsaan Bahati, though, that had the winning legs in the sprint finish. Bahati, who spent more than a few laps barely hanging on to the back of the peloton, had moved up with a couple of team mates in the last stretch, and battled it out with Ivan Stevic and Hilton Clarke in the final 20 meters.
Bahati called this his "biggest win" since winning the Junior National Road Racing and National Criterium Championships in 2000.
More pictures, including of Laura VanGuilder's third win of the CSC Invitational, later.
Photos by Mark Blacknell