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USA Crits Southeast Series - NE
USA, April 28-May 6, 2007
Race 1 - April 28: Athens Twilight Criterium, 80/40 laps (M/W)
Hekman takes surprise win in crash-filled race
The dimly lit streets of Athens have never been more packed, as a five-deep crowd of screaming fans lined the four-corner criterium course to watch seven riders lap the field in the men's race. Amongst the dominant riders was Mark Hekman (Abercrombie and Fitch's) who stormed down the finishing straight to take victory from Josh Thornton (Kodak- Sierra Nevada's) and Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's).
"I cannot believe this," said Hekman, shaking with excitement after claiming the biggest win of his and his team's US racing careers. "If anyone told me last night that I would be the one to win Athens Twilight I would have said no way! A lot of things happened out there tonight, and I was the one who got lucky. I went for it at the end because my director was in the radio telling me to stay up there and just try."
Hekman not only won the Twilight but in doing so claimed the first race of the both the South East Criterium Series and the National Cycling Calendar Series.
"I have been to a lot of big crits before but this was just chaos," added Hekman. "I sat on my teammate's wheel and he took me straight to the front. I got on the train and just had to beat everyone else who lapped the field so I just can't believe I was able to do it."
Such was the chaos in the mad-dash to the finish line that Hekman didn't even realise he'd taken out the event. "I was right in front of Josh Thornton and I just punched it," Hekman said. "I took the last corner a little too hot but I just went for it. I wasn't sure at first but Josh is the one who told me after ward that I won."
Seven riders lapped the field during the first quarter of the 80-minute nighttime criterium. The breakaway comprised of Eric Keim (AEG-Toshiba), Josh Thornton (Kodak-Sierra Nevada), Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe), Gustavo Artacho (Colavita/Sutter Home), Frank Pip (Health Net), Chuck Coyle (Successful Living) and eventual winner Mark Hekman (Abercrombie and Fitch's).
Arguably the two strongest sprinters in the field with a full team inact to bring them to the finish line were Health Net's Pipp and Colavita/Sutter Home's Artacho. But a series of crashes marred the final 20 minutes, putting paid to the pair's chances and broke apart the seven strong break.
A rider's close encounter with the fencing was the beginning of the first crash, which saw a further 30 riders pay the price as they were one-by-one caught up in their fellow competitor's tumble. All of the breakaway riders were able to make their way to the wheel pit for service, but the field was neutralized for everyone's safety.
Health Net were pushing hard at the front for Pipp when the race resumed with 15 laps to go. Australia's Karl Menzies was one person caught up in two of the three crashes, and the Health Net rider hit out at riders' stupidity and anxiousness during the race. "The break went and we had the fastest guy there, so we were just trying to keep it to a bunch sprint," Menzies said. "But then there were guys racing really aggressive for what was eighth place and doing some really stupid things out there so there were crashes everywhere in the end."
Both Health Net and Colavita/Sutter Home remained dominant in their lead out, until the second crash resulted in 20 riders requiring service. Any remaining hope for the squads was quashed when both Artacho and Pipp were taken out by the third accident with three laps remaining. "The officials were great and stopped the race until everyone was back in," Menzies said. "There were just guys in places they shouldn't be because we had a train set up. We kept leading it out but in the end it wasn't our race. Frank crashed for the last time with four laps to go. Gustavo was on Frank's wheel because they were the best two guys for the sprint and they both crashed because some guys were trying to squeeze into our train. It would have been a good sprint finish to have everyone there."
Carroll gets maiden NRC victory
Katherine Carroll (Aaron's) claimed her first NRC win over Colavita/Sutter Home's Iona Wynters and Cheerwine's Chrissy Ruiter after their six-rider break just barely made it to the finish line.
The women's race was heated and aggressive from the gun. Several threatening breaks gained time on the field during the first 30 laps but it wasn't until 10 minutes remained that the winning break finally stuck.
"With eight laps to go I knew there was a decent chance the break was going to stay away and if it didn't I knew we had Shannon Hutchenson and Sarah Caravalla still in the field ready to sprint," said Carroll.
Carroll drove the break with help from Ultralink's Kele Murdin and HealthCoach's Ally Brandt. "Kele Murdin and the other rider [Brandt] were working really hard with me with four laps to go," Carroll said. "I knew that Chrissy from Cheerwine and Iona from Colavita/Sutter Home were sitting on and they were probably the biggest threats. [Brandt] was working so hard in the last four laps that if she hadn't helped we probably wouldn't have stayed away."
Ruiter attacked the break up the hill on the backside of the course with 800 meters to go but was quickly followed by Wynter. "I was in fourth wheel coming through the last two turns and then just tried to be a sprinter," Carroll said. "I started coming through the last turn but it was a long sprint to that finish, a long drag which is what I need to get up to speed."
The field was coming on strong in the final lap of the race as teams not represented in the break tried to close the gap while those with heavy hitting sprinters prepared for a field sprint. Cheerwine's Laura VanGilder won the field sprint behind the break for seventh place.
Pro men 1 Mark Hekman (Abercrombie & Fitch) 1.44.36 2 Josh Thornton (Kodakgallery) 3 Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's) 4 Eric Keim (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 5 Charles Coyle (Successfulliving.com) 6 Keith Norris (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 7 Menzies Karl (HealthNet) 8 Gritters Kyle (HealthNet) 9 O'Bee Kirk (HealthNet) 10 Davide Frattini (Colavita-Sutterhome) 11 Matt Crane (HealthNet) 12 Curtis Gunn (Successfulliving.com) 13 Gustavo Artacho (Colavita-Sutterhome) 14 Kirk Albers (Texas Roadhouse) 15 Chad Hartley (BMC) 16 Yosvany Falcon (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 17 Marco Aledia (Abercrombie & Fitch) 18 Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 19 Jason Snow (Cycle Science) 20 Rudy Robaina (Cycle Science) 21 Adam Bergman (Colavita-Sutterhome) 22 Kevin Attkisson (Texas Roadhouse) 23 Christian Valenzuela (Successfulliving.com) 24 Martin Gilbert (Kelly Benefit) 25 Daniel Larson (VMG) 26 Bobby Sweeting (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 27 Randy Reichardt (HART) 28 Shane Braley (Wheel and Sprocket) 29 Austine Carroll (Rock Racing) 30 Casey Magner (Myogenesis) 31 Mark Hinnen (Kelly Benefit) 32 Seth Hansley (Loco's) 33 Aidan Charles (Nerac) 34 Rahsaan Bahati (Rock Racing) 35 Josh Carter (ABD Racing) 36 John Acker (Wheel and Sprocket) 37 Shane Densmore (Compliance Depot) 38 Neil Coleman (Abercrombie & Fitch) 39 Ward Solar (Nature's Path ProAm) 40 Marshall Martin (Morepartnerincome.com) 41 Alessandro Bazzana (Successfulliving.com) 42 Matt Seagrave (Compliance Depot) 43 Cleve Blackwell (Myogenesis) 44 Chad Burdzilauskas (Cycle Science) 45 Cody Stevenson (Jittery Joe's) 46 Sterling Magnell (Rock Racing) 47 Leo Frayre Avalos (Colavita-Sutterhome) 48 Brian Toone (Birmingham Velo) 49 Marc Anderson (Loco's) 50 David Guttenplan (Sakonnet Technologies) 51 Chris Frederick (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork Pro Cycling) 52 Dan Holt (Nerac) 53 Adam Myerson (Nerac) 54 Craig Dodson (Nature's Path ProAm) 55 Patrick Walsh (Nerac) 56 Thomas Brown (Myogenesis) 57 Phil Whikoff (HealthCoach) 58 Rich Harper (Abercrombie & Fitch) Pro women 1 Katharine Carroll (Aaron's) 56.01 2 Iona Wynter (Colavita) 3 Chrissy Ruiter (Cheerwine) 4 Ally Brandt (HealthCoach) 5 Kele Murdin (Team Ultralink) 6 Tina Pic (Colavita) 7 Laura Van Gilder (Cheerwine) 8 Shannon Hutchinson-Krupat (Aaron's) 9 Mackenzie Dickey (Colavita) 10 Shontelle Gauthier (Team Ultralink) 11 Christina DeKraay 12 Jen McRae (Williams Wheels) 13 Taitt Sato 14 Laura Bowles (Advil Chapstick) 15 Courtenay Brown 16 Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine) 17 Gina Voci 18 Catherine Cheatley (Cheerwine) 19 Sarah Carabella (Aaron's) 20 Mindi Martini 21 Holli Steelman 22 Kim Foland 23 Sarah Uhl (Cheerwine) 24 Joanne Kiesanowski (Aaron's) 25 Mandy Lozanno (Targetraining) 26 Robin Farinna (Targetraining) 27 Jennette Williams (Hub Racing) 28 Lee Anne Asbury (Aaron's) 29 Mara Miller (Advil Chapstick) 30 Tamyra Barnard (Team Kenda Tire) 31 Anna Milkowski (Targetraining) 32 Kathryn Clarke 33 Catherine Powers (Aaron's) 34 Valeria Sanders 35 Elisa Gagnon (Advil Chapstick) 36 Heidi Goldberg (Team Kenda Tire) 37 Andrea Meyers (Targetraining) 38 Nicole Bossie 39 Morse Hill (HT Natural) 40 Dale Tye (Hub Racing) 41 Katie Weber (Xplane/Team Revolution) 42 Kathleen Billington (Targetraining) 0.18 43 Kristin Wentworth (Team Kenda Tire) 44 Shannon Koch (Compliance Depot) 0.26 45 Tara Ross (Advil Chapstick) 0.28 46 Julia Farell (Team Ultralink) 0.39 47 Melissa Brown (Austin Bikes) 0.42 48 Stacey Spencer (Colavita)