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US Open of Cycling - 1.1
Richmond, Virginia, USA, April 7, 2007
Tuft and Pic triumph in cold and snow
Tuft capitalises on two-man break to take solo win
By Laura Weislo in Richmond
Canadian Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) won the inaugural 112 mile US Open Cycling Championships with a gutsy solo move on the ultimate circuit, where he rode away from his breakaway companion Pat McCarty (Slipstream) on the course's steep, cobbled climb at Libby Hill and held the gap to the line. McCarty took second place, just barely holding off Rite Aid's Alejandro Barrejo and Russell Downing (Health Net).
Tuft, the winner of the Tour of Cuba and the prologue at the Redlands Classic used his excellent form wisely, conserving his energy until the crucial moment when McCarty made his move. "It was one of those moves - Pat was already up the road - that just kinda slipped away.
"I got up to him and I guess everyone was just looking at each other expecting us to crack," Tuft explained. "I knew - in this is the kind of race, when you get the chance you just gotta take it. I just rolled it as hard as I could... The last kilometre was total pain... It's been a long time since I've hurt like that."
The race was made even harder by the weather, which turned from an unusually warm several weeks of spring weather to a brutally cold wintry mix overnight. The riders awoke to temperatures just barely above freezing, and near white-out conditions.
Luckily, the snow melted on the warm pavement, allowing the race to go forward after a 90 minute delay. Tuft said that the weather was a big factor in the race's outcome. "It was a huge factor - it just wears down on everyone's energy. The race is hard enough, and the course is hard enough - but then you throw in snow and cold like that and it just wears down on you."
Tuft counted the win amongst the best of his career - a career that started out well years ago with the Prime Alliance squad, but disintegrated into "full-blown burnout". After a season-long hiatus a few years ago, the 29 year-old has returned to the highest level of the sport. As he compared his win in Richmond to past victories, he said, "I always only remember the recent stuff. Part of being a cyclist is you gotta be able to forget stuff. You have to be able to forget how much it hurts."
Pat McCarty started the winning break by following the sage advice of his team director, former Credit Agricole professional Jonathan Vaughters. Vaughters described the strategy, saying "I told Pat 'don't attack on the cobbled climb - that's the obvious place, everyone's expecting that.'
"He attacked with three to go [on the climb before the start/finish] and got away solo for a while - then Svein came up to him. Svein is unbelievably strong right now, so I knew once he came up that they weren't going to get caught. He's like a motorcycle right now."
McCarty, still out of breath after following the 'motorcycle' and then struggling to hold second place, was pleased with the result. "I was just trying to hold it to the end - I was ready to black out out there... It was close. But it was a good day for us."
How it unfolded
The race started in historic Williamsburg, Virginia in dismal conditions, as a freak wintry storm dropped sleet and snow on the area, forcing organisers to delay the start of the race for close to 90 minutes to allow the skies to clear so the television helicopters could take to the air. Once the skies broke up, the race, which is a stop on the international UCI Americas Tour (UCI 1.1) and the national USA Cycling Pro Tour, got underway in front of Williamsburg's historic Powder Magazine.
After rolling through 65 miles of areas steeped in colonial history, including 400 year-old Jamestown, the racers entered Richmond, strung out just seconds behind a break of three. As they headed into town for eight laps of an arduous 5.5 mile circuit, the break was caught, setting up a series of attacks on the steep climb cobbled climb of Libby Hill Park.
Columbian Gregorio Ladino (Tecos) spent a considerable amount of time off the front solo in the early circuits, and was eventually joined by Phil Zajicek (Navigators), but with six laps to go, the pair were reeled in. While other moves would come and go, it wasn't until Patrick McCarty (Slipstream) launched an attack on the climb before the start/finish going into the third to last lap that a move would have success.
When Svein Tuft bridged up to McCarty, the pair quickly gained a minute's lead on the peloton. As the teams behind tried desperately to organise a chase, the effort shattered the remaining peloton into several groups. A promising chase group containing Health Net's Tim Johnson and Shawn Milne, and Toyota United Pro's Ivan Dominguez split off from the bunch, and started to close the gap, but it was too late. When Tuft attacked on the final time up Libby Hill, McCarty was left struggling to hold off the chase group alone.
As Tuft celebrated his victory, McCarty put in a gutsy ride, giving everything he had left to hold second place ahead of Argentinean Alejandro Borrajo (Rite Aid) and Shawn Milne (Health Net). Borrajo, a former pro from the Ceramica-Panaria team left Italy to race in the US, likened the race to a European classic. "With the distance, the cobbles and the weather - it was very much like a Classic."
Pic sprints to victory
While the men were racing from Williamsburg to Richmond, the women competed on a shorter circuit in downtown Richmond, completing nine laps of a three mile loop which did not include the infamous Libby Hill cobbled climb, but did have several challenging sections of rough pavement and tough hills. Tina Pic (Colavita/Sutter Home) out-sprinted Advil-Chapstick's Jen McRae and Heather Labance to take the win, but credited her team with the victory. "Actually, I didn't feel that great today. But it was great - Andrea [Dvorak] and Iona [Wynter] covered everything and all I had to do was sit in and sprint the last lap. And even the last lap, after covering everything, Andrea had so much to go up the hill and lead it out - they were awesome."
On the last lap, Dvorak went so hard up the hill coming into the final turn that she opened a gap on her team-mates - something she didn't intend to do. "Our plan was that I would do the hill and make it to the final corner, and then Iona would take the finish to the line - but I went a little harder than I should have, [laughs] then Iona took over..."
As the field hit the 200m to go mark, McRae opened up the sprint in an attempt to surprise Pic on the uphill, headwind finish, but Pic proved to quick for her, and came around in the final metres to take the win. McRae, too, gave credit to her team for being active during the entire race. "We wanted to make sure we had all the moves covered - it definitely was a breakaway course... and then if someone didn't get up the road, we would set up for the sprint. It was great, the weather turned out fine - it was great."
The women huddled together shivering in the cold and snow before the scheduled start of the race, and happily accepted the hour-long delay while retreating to their cars to keep warm. When race time came, the skies had cleared and the sun lent a bit of warmth to a bitter cold morning. Straight from the gun, the Targetraining team set a hard tempo, but it was Advil-Chapstick's Laura Bowles who initiated the race's first breakaway, and she was soon joined by Colavita's Iona Wynter.
The pair pulled their gap out to nearly 30 seconds, but with too many fresh legs in the bunch, the move did not last. Bowles, riding on good form from the Redlands Classic, had hoped the move would work. "I felt great - Iona was working well with me, but it was super windy, and it just didn't work out."
As the break came back to the field, Bowles' team-mate Kirsten Robbins (Advil/Chapstick) countered, and was quickly covered by Andrea Dvorak (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Robin Farina (Targetraining). But once again, the break was doomed. Robbins explained, "It looked like a good break because the top three teams were in it, but unfortunately, with Tina Pic in the field, it wasn't in Colavita's interest to work, so with just two of us pulling, we couldn't make it."
Pic sprinted to victory on a special pink bike, signifying her Sutter Home sponsor's initiative to donate $1000 for every win and $1 for every mile she races to the breast cancer research program of the City of Hope National Medical Center, which is outside of Los Angeles. Pic was excited to be able to bring in more money for the cause. "A lot of people there [at the medical center] are special cases that they're working on cures for - so another thousand dollars for this great cause - it's awesome."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Emory Ball
Images by Kurt Jambretz/Action Images/www.actionimages.cc
Elite Men 1 Svein Tuft (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 4.19.10 2 Pat McCarty (USA) Slipstream-Chipotle 0.41 3 Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Arg) Rite Aid Pro Cycling 4 Russel Downing (GBr) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 5 Andrew Pinfold (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 0.47 6 John Fredy Parra (Col) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara 0.58 7 Trent Wilson (Aus) The Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team 8 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 9 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team 10 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 11 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 1.02 12 Henk Vogels (Aus) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 13 Phil Zajicek (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 14 Lucas Euser (USA) Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle 15 Tim Johnson (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 16 Evan Elken (USA) The Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team 1.16 17 Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 1.37 18 Sean Sullivan (Aus) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 1.46 19 Gregorio Ladino (Col) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara 2.29 20 Ken Hanson (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 21 Chad Hartley (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 22 Jake Rytlewski (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling 23 Dominique Rollin (Can) Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 24 Davide Frattini (Ita) Colavita-Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 25 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 26 Shawn Milne (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 27 Ivan Stevic (SCG) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 3.09 28 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 3.28 29 Caleb Manion (Aus) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 4.18 30 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Cycling National Development Team 4.32 31 Charles Dionne (Can) Colavita-Sutter Home 32 Dan Bowman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast 33 Jacob Rosenbarger (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 34 Dan Timmerman (USA) Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 35 Scott Zwizanski (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team 4.40 36 Yosvany Falcon (Cub) AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork 37 Jason Donald (USA) Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle 38 Frank Pipp (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 39 Cameron Evans (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 40 David McCann (Irl) Colavita-Sutter Home 41 Garrett Peltonen (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team 42 Timothy Duggan (USA) Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle 43 Emile Abraham (Tri) Priority Health Cycling Team 44 Justin England (USA) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team 45 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 46 Cody Stevenson (Aus) The Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team 47 Glen Chadwick (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 48 Andrew Randell (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 49 Craig Lewis (USA) Team Slipstream powered by Chipotle 4.47 50 Ryan Roth (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast 51 Frank Travieso (Cub) AEG-Toshiba-Jetnetwork Pro Cycling Team 7.43 52 Mike Lange (USA) Slipstream-Chipotle 8.51 53 Jonathan Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling 13.44 54 Waite Nicholas (USA) Kelly Benefit/Medifast Cycling 18.57 Elite Women 1 Tina Pic (Colavita/ Sutter Home) 1.04.16 2 Jennifer McRae (Advil-Chapstick) 3 Heather Labance (Advil ChapStick) 4 Erica Allar (Team Fuji/Salamander Racing) 5 Jeanette Williams (Hub Racing) 6 Natalie Klemko (Advil ChapStick) 7 Emilie Roy (Specialized-Vinci-Menikini) 8 Hiroko Shimada (Target Training Women's Team) 9 Robin Farina (Target Training Women's Team) 10 Laura Bowles (Advil ChapStick) 11 Kathleen Billington (Target Training Women's Team) 12 Iona Wynter (Colavita/ Sutter Home) 13 Joanie Caron (AE Sport Development) 14 Holli Steelman (Juice Plus/NC Cycling) 15 Lorena Candrian (HPC/LIST) 16 Leslie Jennings (ABRT-Latitude) 17 Andrea Dvorak (Colavita/ Sutter Home) 18 Heidi Woolever (ABRT/Latitude) 19 Kimberly Geist (TEAm Lipton) 20 Canuel Karol-ann (Specialized-Vinci-Menikini) 21 Sheba Farrin (Hub Racing) 22 Leigh Valetti (Target Training Women's Team) 23 Mara Miller (Advil ChapStick) 24 Marie-pier Bedard (Specialized-Vinci-Menikini) 25 Anna Milkowski (Target Training Women's Team) 26 Mandy Lozano (Target Training Women's Team) 27 Kirsten Robbins (Advil ChapStick) 28 Dale Tye (Hub Racing) 29 Diane Miller (C3/ADG/Joe's) 3.22 30 Janet Olney (C3/ADG/Joe's Bike Shop) 31 Andrea Myers (Target Training Women's Team) 11.44 32 Melissa Petty (BMW-Bianchi) 33 Wendy Ulmer (ABRT/Latitude) 34 Kristin Keim (Team Cycleworks) 35 Christine Wehlburg (National Capital Velo Club/Inov) 36 Lauren Shirock (BMW/Bianchi) 37 Julie Kuliecza (Richmond Ciclismo) 38 Tonya Lail (BMW/Bianchi) 39 Nicole Bossie (Juice Plus+) 40 Gwynne Reid (Team Natures Path / 3Sports) 41 Heidi Von Teitenberg (ABRT/Latitude)