Rutas de America - Uruguay


The United States Postal Service Cycling Team won seven of the 10 stages en route to the overall victory at the Rutas de America, held February 16-25 in Uruguay, South America. Sven Teutenberg rode to the overall title, picking up three stage victories along the way. Teutenberg and teammate Tyler Hamilton wore the leader's jersey throughout the event, with Teutenberg taking it over for good following his victory in stage seven.

Besides Teutenberg's trio of wins, Hamilton, Darren Baker, Clark Sheehan and Eddy Gragus all won stages as well. In the final general classification, Teutenberg's winning time was 41 hours, 22 minutes and 52 seconds, 6:43 ahead of runner-up Eduardo Camarano (Cruz del Sur). The USPS' Marty Jemison placed third overall, followed by Baker in fourth, Hamilton in fifth, Sheehan in sixth and Gragus in seventh.

Hamilton struck first by winning the prologue in strong fashion, with Sheehan coming in a strong second. Later that day, Teutenberg sprinted to his first stage victory, leaving the USPS (with Hamilton, Teutenberg and Baker) in the top three spots overall. Following stage two, Sheehan moved up into fourth place overall, giving a hold on the top four spots overall. Teutenberg won stage four, a 193 km stage from Nueva Helvecia to Fray Bentos in a mass sprint. Stage five proved to be Baker's turn, as he won the the 198 km road race from Fray Bentos to Salto by six seconds over Hamilton.

The second-place effort moved Hamilton into the race lead by one second over Teutenberg, with Baker third at 54 seconds, Jemison fifth at 1:26 and Sheehan sixth at 1:28. The race changed dramatically during stage seven, when Teutenberg and Camarano were the only riders not caught behind a crash and rider protest that stalled the peloton over 30 minutes.

Teutenberg easily won the two-rider sprint and finished over 1 hour ahead of the field that included Hamilton, Gragus and Sheehan. The win moved Teutenberg back into first, while Camarano jumped from 22nd to second overall. Sheehan followed with a victory in stage eight, the 35 km Treinta y Tres time trial, topping Hamilton by just 12 seconds and the third-place rider by almost four minutes. After all six team members finished second through seventh in stage nine's 179.2 km road race from Treinta y Tres to Minas, Gragus closed out the event with a victory in stage 10, a 186 km road race from Minas to Montevideo.