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Four Bridges of Elgin - 1.7.2
USA, July 6, 2003
Tyler Farrar takes prestigious Elgin Espoirs victory
Paul Martin solos away with new pro men's race; Sarah Tillotson bags women's
By Mark Zalewski
The three main events at this year's Four Bridges of Elgin saw two very different styles of victory. In the Espoirs race, Tyler Farrar (US National Team) won an uphill drag sprint to claim the prize, while the inaugural men's pro event saw Paul Martin (West Virginia) solo away for the win, in a move that echoed Sarah Tillotson's winning break in the earlier women's race.
In its fourth year, the Four Bridges of Elgin has quickly risen to become an anticipated event on the U.S. road racing calendar. With a unique road circuit course, and an event management staff that makes a big effort to put on the best possible event, it is easy to see why. The highlight event has always been the UCI U-23 road race. With its $10,000 prize list, it has always attracted many of the best espoir riders from around the world.
However, in the previous editions, the other cycling races were limited to masters, women, or citizen racers, leaving out many interested racers. Now that the event has become established, the event organizers were able to add more categories, including a Pro/1/2 event with a $5,000 purse. This attracted a handful or noteworthy pros and many elite regional racers.
This year's event was held under varying weather conditions. The Men's Pro race saw sunshine, high humidity and temperatures well into the 90s. But by the time the espoirs took the road, clouds had rolled in causing the temperature to drop and the wind to increase. A few short rain showers accompanied by thunder made everyone nervous, but eventually blew over.
The feature espoirs event brought teams from every direction, including the U.S. National Espoir team, Team Ontario, the Saturn Developmental Team, West Virginia Elite, Grove Dental Cycling Team and the Colavita-Bolla Pro team. Returning this year was defending champion Viktor Rapinski of the Saturn Cycling Team. The strong rider from Belarus was the odds-on favorite to repeat, after he easily road away from the field in last year's race. Other favorites included last year's second-place finisher and newly crowned U-23 national champion Jonathan Erdelyi of Ofoto-Lombardi Sports, U.S. National Team members Tyler Farrar and Darby Thomas and Saturn Development's Tim Reinhart.
The espoirs race consisted of thirteen laps on the 8.85km circuit course (116km/72mi). The course begins on a divided boulevard, with a 200m downhill to a 180-degree turnaround at the bottom and a 200m climb back to the top. The riders then turn left and head out on a long and straight drag through the residential neighborhoods of this Chicago suburb. The course then winds through many 90-degree turns as the neighborhood follows the Fox River, with many of the turns coming after only one block of straight road. After turning about a dozen times, the riders fly down a (relatively) long descent. After picking up speed they must negotiate a 90-degree right turn which immediately kicks-up to a curving climb. While not an hors-category climb by any means, the multiple ascents is sure to split the pack a few times. The course then resumes turning multiple times before rejoining the long drag back to the downtown area.
Espoirs Road Race
Breaks were the order of the day in most of the races, including the young-guns. However for one rider, this didn't mean going off the front of the pack, but instead his handlebars. Scott Walters' (Grove Dental) handlebars broke in the middle, causing him to go down on the first lap of the race.
After this unfortunate incident, the racing began in earnest. Real breaks began to form containing riders from the strong Saturn, U.S. National and Colavita-Bolla teams. Others bridged up and more got shelled off, but these three teams were always represented. While this was happening, Viktor Rapinski was slowed by a front-wheel puncture and had to chase for many laps after getting a wheel from the Mavic Neutral Service crew. All during his chase, a Colavita-Bolla rider hung on his rear-wheel like a cement block trying to break the defending champion's will. However, the tough rider from Belarus fought through the pain and eventually rejoined the pack and immediately went to the front.
But the damage was already done -- the winning-combination of riders was already together and had a sizeable gap on the field. Rapinski had nothing left in his gas tank and he had teammate Tim Reinhart in break, so with two laps remaining he rolled off the back and took up position at the start/finish for the final sprint.
Along with Reinhart in the break were Tyler Farrar (U.S. National Team), Chad Hartley (Grove Dental), Thad Dulin (Colavita/Bolla), Blake Caldwell (5280/Subaru) and Darby Thomas (U.S. National Team). With two riders together in the break, it seemed that the odds were in favor of the U.S. National Team. Even more, this result was what the team had hoped for. "The plan was to set me up for the sprint finish, since I have the best kick," said Tyler Farrar. "[The break] knew we had it with a lap to go, and I was going to sit on and cruise to the finish."
But things rarely go as planned. Farrar's teammate Darby Thomas crashed when he took too tight of a line through a turn. Now it was up to Farrar to cover any moves. "I knew Tim and Chad were quick, and I kept an eye on Tim on the hill. From the climb on Hartley tried to attack but the others covered him."
The group rounded the last turn together at 200 meters, with Farrar in second. "Tim jumped first on the right and I jumped on his wheel." The up-hill drag race to the line was just long enough for the first-year National Team rider to come around the Saturn sprinter and claim victory. "I really want to thank my team for this -- I couldn't have done it without them."
Early in the day the first even Men's Pro race was held under very warm and humid conditions -- such so that the officials made a quick decision to allow bottle hand-ups during the race. Among the big guns attending the inaugural race were Prime Alliance's Jonas Carney, U.S. Postal's local boys Robbie Ventura and Kenny Labbé and West Virginia's Paul Martin and Jim Baldesare. Labbé was coming off a win the day before at the nearby Rum Village Criterium in a sprint that he led out from 200+ meters.
Like the other races, breaks formed and chase groups followed. An early break of three containing David Wenger (West Virginia) got the attention of the pack, and chase groups broke off trying to bridge the gap. Labbé and Carney were among those looking to go across, with Paul Martin and Jim Baldesare covering to help their teammate up the road.
After a few laps of mixing and matching of different combinations at the front, the cream rose to the top and the rest were shelled off the back, with the climb at the back making many of those decisions for the riders. Left at the front was Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance), Kenny Labbé (USPS), Paul Martin (West Virginia) and four others. Martin, known for his long solo attempts in races like this, was under the watchful eyes of the entire group.
Sure enough, the tall 6-foot four-inch rider jumped on the long stretch back towards the start/finish circuit with around four laps to go. "I was most worried about Jonas because he is such a strong sprinter," said Martin about his move. "I was trying to mainly get away from him - maybe I went too early, but it's the best way for me to win. I also wanted to go for the primes."
Early as it was, Martin was able to time trial his way to a few lap primes and the solo win. "Dave Wenger rode a great race and took a lot of pressure off of Jonas Carney for me. I'm just happy to get some publicity for the team."
Before the men took the stage, the women's open race was held under similarly hot and humid weather conditions. Returning this year was the local favorite Sarah Tillotson (Athletes By Design). She won here last year and recently finished second to Saturn's Laura van Gilder at the Proctor Cycling Classic, a National Racing Calendar event.
Sarah found herself in a break soon into the women's race, and she played her cards right the whole way. "I chose to sit in on them so I wouldn't have to work," said Tillotson. "Going into the last lap, I knew I needed to attack at least half-way through so that if it didn't work I would have enough time to attack them again."
It worked the first time. Tillotson rode away from Megan Monroe and Heather Edwards to her second straight solo win at this race. She is definitely someone to watch at the upcoming Criterium Championships in nearby Downer's Grove!
Images by Mark Zalewski
Espoir men 1 Tyler Farrar (U.S. National) 2 Tim Reihart (Saturn Development Team) 3 Chad Hartley (Grove Dental Cycling Team) 4 Thad Dulin (Colavita-Bolla Pro Cycling) 5 Blake Caldwell (5280/Subaru) 6 Darby Thomas (U.S. National) 7 Jonathan Erdelyi (Grove Dental Cycling Team) 8 Juan Jose Haedo (Colavita-Bolla Pro Cycling) 9 Daniel Holt (Locos/Portefield) 10 Cory Steinbrecher (U.S. National) 11 Michael Dietrich (Fiordifrutta/Wheelworks) 12 Dale Suttle (Backyard Burgers) 13 Dan Bowman (Surburban Homes) 14 Warren Tilbrook (Team Ontario) 15 Peter Hult (Sportsbook.com) 16 Tim Swain (Indiana University) 17 Jake Rytlewski (Surburban Homes) 18 Stuart Gillespie (Colavita-Bolla Pro Cycling) 19 Michael Kehiberg (West Virginia) 20 Josh Gewirtz (Fiordifrutta/Wheelworks) 21 Andy Guptill (Composite Team 1) 22 Carlos Vargas (Saturn Development Team) 23 Matt Bonin (Team Ontario) 24 Shawine Milne (U.S. National) 25 Chris Isaac (Team Ontario) 26 Tate Simpson (Fiordifrutta/Wheelworks) 27 Nathan Rouse (Sportsbook.com) 28 Jordan Roessingh (ISCorp Cycling Team) 29 Brian Schaning (Saturn Development Team) 30 Clayton Barrows (Locos/Portefield) 31 Reid Peacock (Locos/Portefield) 32 Jay J KU (5280/Subaru) 33 Andrew Manart (5280/Subaru) 34 Bennet Vander Grungten (Indiana University) 35 Tyler Wren (Colavita-Bolla Pro Cycling) 36 Bret Glenbooki (ISCorp Cycling Team) 37 David Youngblood (Fiordifrutta/Wheelworks) 38 Todd Campbell (Grove Dental Cycling Team) 39 Daniel Holt (Locos/Portefield) 40 Justin Peters (Locos/Portefield) 41 Brian Dziewa (Grove Dental Cycling Team) 42 Michael Voigt (5280/Subaru) 43 Jon Hughes (Surburban Homes) 44 Scott Grosz (ISCorp Cycling Team) 45 Andrew Wulfkuhle (Composite Team 1) 46 Stefan Rothe (Team Mack Racing) 47 Josh Tack (Composite Team 1) 48 Lee Rosenthal (Composite Team 1) Pro 1/2/ men 1 Paul Martin (West Virginia) 2 Scott Pearson 3 Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) 4 Andrew Practer 5 Mark Hekman 6 Ryan Nenninger 7 David Wenger (West Virginia) 8 Kenny Labbe (US Postal) 9 Frank Pipp 10 Robert Ventura (US Postal) 11 Todd Miller 12 John Faull 13 Gustav Carrillo 14 Al Senft 15 Chris Bolling 16 Kurt Rees 17 Joshua Carter 18 Aaron Hubber 19 Andrew Lister 20 Paul Cicero 21 Keith Leonard 22 Brian Schwiller 23 James Baldesare 24 Michael Feske 25 Joan Ocney 26 Jesse Bartholomew 27 Dennis Guikema 28 Skiles Keith 29 Ara Oggoian 30 Brad Menna 31 Patrick Collier 32 David Hasse 33 Paul Deninger 34 Adam Zesniakowski 35 Bryce Mead 36 Kevin Attkison Women Open 1 Sarah Tillotson (Athletes By Design) 2 Megan Monroe 3 Heather Edwards 4 Kelly Benjamin (Athletes by Design) 5 Monique Karlew 6 Lindsay Wetzel 7 Alison Dwyer 8 Jessica Lindermann (Jamba Juice) 9 Anne Hulterhoff (Jamba Juice) 10 Katie Weber 11 Debbie Dust 12 Rebecca Loney 13 Michelle Bazemore 14 Melanie Fitz 15 Julie Tatar 16 Trudy van der Straaten 17 Rachel Eichers 18 NA 19 Francine Hass 20 Andrea Venteicher 21 Jane Noone 22 NA 23 Sheila Senft 24 Elizabeth Fedofsky 25 Erica Johnson 26 Jamie Surgers 27 SusanA Uphill 28 Sherri Piotroski 29 Laurel Stevens 30 Beth Christianson 31 Sarah Drilias 32 Pamela Molitor
2002 Viktor Repinski (Blr) Team Saturn 2001 Danny Pate (USA) Prime Alliance 2000 Charles Dionne (Can) Team Shaklee