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Mercury Cycling Classic of Irvine - NE
California, USA, September 23, 2001
Carney, Eyerman win one for the 'little guys' at Mercury Cycling Classic of Irvine
By John Alsedek
Prime Alliance's Jonas Carney and Jenny Eyerman of jane Cosmetics took advantage of golden opportunities to win the Mercury Cycling Classic of Irvine. With the Saturn Cycling Team virtually absent from both the Men's and Women's events, it opened the door for the duo to pick up the biggest victories of the season for their respective teams, and led to some highly exciting race action in the process.
The inaugural Mercury Cycling Classic of Irvine featured all the ingredients necessary to make it an immediate success: great weather, enthusiastic crowds, and, of course, a venue worthy of a Pro Cycling Tour event. Held on a 1.5-mile loop at the Irvine Spectrum - one of the most popular shopping areas in Orange County, attracting 35,000 visitors a day - with the Start/Finish area located in front of Mercury's newly-opened International Headquarters, the race course included nine turns and an out-and-back section each lap.
In the 90-minute Men's race, Pro Cycling Tour leader Trent Klasna was the only member of the Saturn team in attendance. However, that didn't mean that there was a lack of horsepower in the field, as such domestic powerhouses as Navigators, 7 UP/Colorado Cyclist, and 'hometown hero' Mercury had full squads in the 125-man starting field. The action started almost from the gun, as another 'hometown hero', Jaime Paolinetti (NetZero) spearheaded an early attack that looked dangerous - until the field got serious.
From that point on, no one was able to get more than a few seconds up, as each team looked to its sprinters to bring home the victory. With one lap to go, it looked like Mercury was in control, as its train was going full tilt. But things didn't quite work out that way: designated sprinter Gord Fraser ended up leading it out too early, setting the table for Prime Alliance's Carney to come around in the last 50 meters, with 7 UP/Colorado Cyclist's Kevin Monahan also getting by Fraser to take second. Fraser came across the line third, followed by teammate Derek Bouchard-Hall and Navigator's Siro Camponogara.
Afterwards, Carney was quick to thank his teammates for his victory, including new Prime Alliance recruit Chris Horner, formerly of Mercury: "They were just raging out there. I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to break into the Mercury train, but Chris and the guys made sure I was in position, and I just took it from there. It's great to pick up a win like this, in front of this many people. Thanks, Irvine!"
The absence of Saturn was felt more strongly in the Women's event, given the way that the women in yellow have dominated the 2001 Pro Cycling Tour from the very beginning. While the field wasn't quite as strong as usual, the racing was far more open, as there was no clear cut favourite for victory. The smart money was riding on the upstart Procter & Gamble squad, coming off a strong second in the San Rafael Grand Prix, to move one step further up on the podium.
However, with no breakaway attempt gaining more than a few seconds before being reeled back in, it came down to a group sprint - which meant it was anyone's race. While Procter & Gamble did a good job of setting up team sprinter Joanne Kiesanowski, the young New Zealander, still recovering from a recent crash, wasn't quite able to hold off the 25-year old Eyerman. Eyerman, the 1999 Collegiate National Criterium Champion, was almost in tears after the finish, as she celebrated the biggest victory of her four-year racing career.
"I don't know what to say! I've come close in a couple of big races this year, but to win a Pro Cycling Tour event.....it's just awesome! I'd like to thank my sponsor, jane Cosmetics, for making it possible - they've been a great benefactor to women's cycling."
Temecula native Sarah Hammer (Zero Wait) was third, with Pam Schuster (AutoTrader.com) and Theresa Nugent (South Bay Wheelmen) taking fourth and fifth.
There were no changes in the overall Pro Cycling Tour standings, as Men's leader Trent Klasna (Saturn) and Women's leader Anna Millward (Saturn) both retained their orange hats of series leadership. The 2001 Pro Cycling Tour concludes on October 22nd with the Miami Cycling Classic in Miami, Florida.
Jonathan Devich, TheFastTrack captured the action in these images
Men 1 Jonas Carney (USA) Prime Alliance 2 Kevin Monahan (USA) 7 UP/Colorado Cyclist 3 Gord Fraser (Can) Mercury 4 Derek Bouchard-Hall (USA) Mercury 5 Siro Camponogara (Ita) Navigators Women 1 Jenny Eyerman (USA) jane Cosmetics 2 Joanne Kiesanowski (NZl) Procter & Gamble 3 Sarah Hammer (USA) Zero Wait 4 Pam Schuster (USA) AutoTrader.com 5 Theresa Nugent (USA) South Bay Wheelmen