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42nd Manhattan Beach Grand Prix - NE
California, USA, September 7, 2003
Quinn Emerges to Take Women's MBGP
By Casper Casparian
Becky Quinn (Vaniqa/Red 5 Racing) came from the back of the field, and the middle of the NRC standings, to take the grand prize at the women's Pro 1/2 race at the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, held on September 6, 2003. With five laps to go on the 1.4-mile course, Quinn lost control of her machine and found herself skidding on the tarmac. With the help of her teammates, the bloodied Quinn re-integrated with the field and emerged from the bunch sprint in first place, bettering top local and national talent. Gina Grain (Victory Brewing), winner of last week's U.S. 10K/$10K race in Atlanta, GA, finished second and powerhouse Team T-Mobile's Lara Kroepsch, who also had an unscheduled asphalt meeting, claimed third.
"The season is winding down now, but we're definitely excited with the result here today, and looking forward to San Rafael and San Francisco this weekend," ecstatic team Manager Chris Evertsen said post-race. "[Our riders] were amazing and stayed at the front for virtually the entire race."
The Manhattan Beach Grand Prix course features two U-turns and fast, rolling straightaways, which have proven reliable in their ability to cause crashes in the intense final minutes of the race. In this year's 42nd annual run of the Grand Prix, the women's guaranteed minimum prize purse of $5,000 was increased to $7,000 because 70 riders registered for the start. As always, a large purse and National Racing Calendar points combined to ensure a fast tempo and an earnest battle for the line.
Despite numerous early attacks from riders including former Saturn pro Suzanne Sonye (Helen's/Trek/VW) and Dotsie Cowden and Katrina Grove (T-Mobile), the women's field stayed together after shedding most of the category-3 women who were started at the same time. With the clock running out on the 65-minute race, T-Mobile upped the pace again before the second turn, shadowed by Quinn and Nicole Brandt (Minute Maid/Dasani-La Grange). Quinn lost traction and tumbled; Brandt had nowhere to go but down.
"I wanted to get back in the race after the fall, but I had the wind knocked out of me and the EMTs were concerned that I might have been seriously hurt," Brandt said. Quinn, a former U.S. track champion and second in last year's Manhattan Beach Grand Prix, took her free lap and then was shepherded by teammates Jenny Eyerman and Erika Schwarz back to the heat of the action.
On the typically frightful descent into the final turn before the finish, the Minute Maid/Dasani train delivered Laura Downey from mid-pack up to first position in the corner. The burst of speed turned out to be more than Downey could sustain, however, and she wound up getting passed with 50 meters to go, finishing fifth on the day. "It's a long way to the line from the final corner, but when you're in 35th position you have to take risks," she explained.
The bunch sprint resulted in placings measured in inches. Although she dutifully carried Quinn through the tense final laps, Eyerman had enough juice to take 4th place. After holding aloft her oversized winner's check, Quinn said, "Now I'm going to buy myself a really nice pair of shoes."
Redemption for Carney at Manhattan Beach Grand Prix
By Casper Casparian
Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) avenged his unfortunate undoing in the 2002 Manhattan Beach Grand Prix with a smart and cagey win in the 2003 edition. Held on a day tailor-made for tourism brochures and cycling calendars, the event saw an unending barrage of attacks, for which the bunch always seemed to have an answer. A pileup and slowdown in the second-to-last turn of the historic course forced a wedge of distance into the field, setting the stage for a last-minute attack by speedster Rasaan Bahati (Saturn), which Carney capably covered and bettered. Last year's victor, Gord Frasier (Health Net), finished third of the bunch, while recently un-retired Brit Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello), also a former winner, took fourth.
First held in 1961, the Manhattan Beach Grand Prix in Southern California is the second-oldest single-day race held in the United States, after the Somerville Criterium in New Jersey. With National Racing Calendar points on the line, and its proximity to the San Francisco Grand Prix the following week, the 2003 edition drew the top practitioners of the sport. The 1.4-mile, seaside course consists of two long, rolling straights with 180-degree turns at either end, a layout that usually forecloses breakaways and ensures crashes at one end or another.
"Last year, I was in the leading breakaway and just took [the final turn] too fast and stacked it hard," Carney commented after the awards ceremony. "Today, I saw Rasaan go and gave him three-to-four bike lengths before the turn. I took it really easy through the turn, then sprinted into his draft." The current U.S. national points race champion, Carney slyly added, "I've been doing a lot of track racing, so that helps."
Numerous primes, as well as aggression from reliable antagonists Schroeder Iron, KB Home, Velo RPM and Sierra Nevada, conspired to keep the pace brutally quick and thin the ranks of the nearly 200 starters. Other teams, like Carney's Prime Alliance squad, rode defensively and ensured that no riders escaped the field. With one lap to go, a four-man Jelly Belly train moved to the head of the field and threatened to hold that position to the line; the pileup on the uphill, next-to-last turn, and resulting slowdown and chaos in its wake, altered the final outcome.
"We were trying to lead Brent Dawson through the finish and it was looking good, but with the bunching on that corner, we lost contact," said Jelly Belly Mariano Friedrick, who contested the Far West Track Championships a mere 15 hours before. "So I had to go on my own. We come out to win, but sometimes it doesn't come out our way. We'll have our eyes on the San Francisco Grand Prix next week."
Notably absent from the top-10 places was any member of the Schroeder Iron team, who were also caught out when the group took a tumble with one turn left. Schroeder rider Jacob Erker described his team's setback: "You could hear the bumping as riders moved to the left [far] curb. Then, the bumping turned to crunching and a few riders went down. It took out our sprinter Miguel Meza and three others. After slowing down, I managed to chase back to the lead group but with everyone going 35 miles-per-hour, it's just too hard to do anything more at that point."
Quick reactions and adapting to the unfolding events helped deliver Prime Alliance to the line first. "We also lost a key guy in the pileup, Alex Candelario, but David Clinger stepped up and gave me a perfect leadout down the back straightaway," explained Jonas Carney. "Alex and I both could have had a shot to win, but you never know what's going to happen," he said philosophically.
Women's race images by ERB Racing
Men's race images by Casper Casparian & Steve Scott
Pro men 1 Jonas Carney (USA) Prime Alliance 2 Rasaan Bahati (USA) Saturn 3 Gord Fraser (Cam) Health Net 4 Malcolm Elliott (GBr) Pinarello 5 Dave McCook (USA) Team McGuire 6 Jason Waddell (USA) Mathis Brothers 7 Greg Medinilla (USA) Monex-Hot Wheels 8 Russell Hamby (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi 9 Robbie Ventura (USA) United States Postal Service 10 Niko Biksner (USA) Sierra Nevada Women Pro 1/2 1 Becky Quinn (Vaniqa/Red 5) 2 Gina Grain (Victory Brewery) 3 Lara Kroepsch (T-Mobile) 4 Jenny Eyerman (Vaniqa/Red 5) 5 Laura Downey (Minute Maid/Dasani-LaGrange) 6 Dotsie Cowden (T-Mobile) 7 Katrina Grove (T-Mobile) 8 Norrene Godfrey (Team Rubicon) 9 Sheba Farrin (LSV/Trek/VW) 10 Cheryl Roth (Helen's/Trek/VW)
Pro Men 2002 Gordon Fraser (Can) Mercury Cycling Team 2001 Jonas Carney (USA) Prime Alliance Pro Women 2002 Suzanne Sonye (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 2001 Tina Mayolo (USA) Autotrader.com