Luke Lamperti 2021 Crit Champion
National Championships

Lamperti's Bringing His Winning Strategy Back To Pro Road Nationals

By: Jim Rutberg  June 17, 2022

After Luke Lamperti became the youngest man to win USA Crit Nationals, he spent some time perfecting his craft in Europe with his eyes on the Road Race.

The youngest man ever to win the US Pro Criterium National Championship is going back to Knoxville, this time with the Road Race in his sights. Although 19-year-old Luke Lamperti will race both the Road Race and Criterium during the 2022 USA Cycling Professional Road National Championships in Knoxville, Tennessee, it’s the Road Race that inspires him most.

“The Road Race in Knoxville is tough. It’s hot and humid, and the [Sherrod Hill] climb takes its toll. The key is not to go too hard too early. Everyone can do it in the first hour, but those climbs add up,” Lamperti said. Following a springtime block of racing in Europe, the Trinity Racing rider believes he has the legs to excel in a race of attrition. His spring schedule included Tour de Normandie, Circuit des Ardennes, the U23 Liège – Bastogne – Liège, and Le Tour de Bretagne Cycliste.

European Advantage

While living in Girona, Spain and competing for Trinity Racing, a UCI Continental team based in Great Britain, Lamperti hasn’t had too many opportunities to race in the Stars-and-Stripes jersey he earned in Knoxville. He views his trip back to the States, which is specifically focused on some tune-up crits and then Nationals, as a dividing line for his season. “Nationals come at a nice time in the year,” he said. “You have the beginning of the year and the Classics. Then you can come back and have a little break, race US Pro Nationals, and then go back over to Europe.”

Lamperti scored a key victory in his spring season at the Rapha Lincoln Grand Prix in Great Britain. He was the first American winner in the event’s 66-year history, and only the fourth non-British winner. Criteriums in the UK, he says, are not contested by as many riders, but feature very narrow courses, making them feel more like Belgian kermesses than wide boulevard American crits. “It’s a crit, but it’s super narrow and the front group comes down to 15 guys. And they’re really hard the whole time because of how tight the courses are. You’re almost stopping and going in the corners,” he said.

Winning the Lincoln Grand Prix was one the highlights of Lamperti’s year with the Pro Crit National Champion’s jersey. “I didn’t get to wear it much because I don’t ride that many criteriums. But wearing it in another country was super cool,” he commented. “I was the only American in those crits in the UK, and sort of carrying the entire US Criterium scene with me. The UK guys think their crits are the best. The US guys think theirs are the best. So, there was kind of a sense that if I’m the US Criterium Champion and they beat me, then the UK criteriums are better. It was really cool to wear the jersey in the UK, for sure, especially racing for a British team.”

Lamperti’s Winning Strategy

In the 2021 US Pro Criterium National Championship, Lamperti maneuvered through a series of crashes in the final laps to take the win. He also displayed great handling skills and tactical savvy in his European victories. The US criterium scene has recently been dominated by a handful of specialist teams. Lamperti says disruption is the key to winning against well-drilled, highly-organized criterium teams. “They’re really good at what they do. They race crits all the time and have them down to a science. So, it’s fun to go in and see what you can do against them,” he commented. “They’re used to racing against other criterium specialist teams, so you have to try to throw something a little different at them.”

If strength and grit are the keys to success in the US Pro National Championship Road Race, Lamperti says the Criterium in Knoxville is a race of positioning. He has been using his skill to great effect in the final weeks leading up to the 2022 US Pro National Championships. He recently won the River Parks Criterium and the Omnium title in Tulsa, Oklahoma during the three-event Tulsa Tough.

USA Cycling National Team

In addition to representing the United States as the Pro Criterium Champion for the past year, Luke Lamperti is a member of the recently announced 2022 USA Cycling National Team. “It’s cool to make that selection and it’s great to see how much talent is in that group. You see how well the younger guys are doing now in Europe. In the Criterium du Dauphine, two guys on the National Team that I was teammates with as juniors – Sean Quinn and Kevin Vermaerke – are doing super well,” he commented. “I think the US Road scene is coming back with all the younger guys.”