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Photo ©: Bettini

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Cougar Mountain Classic - NE

Sonoma, California, USA, July 7-8, 2007

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Stage 1 - July 7: Criterium

Bazzana and Lang victories at Infineon raceway

Italian Alessandro Bazzana (
Photo ©: Chucke Walkden
(Click for larger image)

Alessandro Bazzana survived a last-lap multi-rider crash on Saturday to win the 90-minute NRC Road Criterium race at the Infineon Cougar Mountain Classic. Bazzana, who rides for Team Successful Living, managed to avoid the five-rider crash with 200 metres left in the race to post his second victory of the season. He was followed by second-place Jonathan Cantwell (Kahala-La Grange) and third-place Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team).

Bazzana was second at the time of the incident, which also involved teammate Ricardo Esculea, who was leading at the time. "Ricardo crashed and I avoided it but the guys in third, fourth and fifth didn't," explained Bazzana, a third-year pro from Italy who now resides in Ventura. "It was a tight left turn and it happened."

One of those involved in the accident was Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez, who was making just his second start since sustaining a back injury at the Tri-Peaks Challenge in May. Dominguez, considered one of the top sprinters in the country, injured his right hand but walked away from the accident. Teammate Henks Vogel injured his right shoulder in an early-race accident.

Happy birthday: Anna Lang (Karl Strauss/SDBC)
Photo ©: Stephen Scharf
(Click for larger image)

Bazzana was part of a 10-rider breakaway 30 minutes into the race, and the group managed to lap the entire field at the 65-minute mark. Bazzana's earlier win this year came at the Conquer the Canyons Stage Race.

In the women's race, San Rafael native Anna Lang granted her own birthday wish by taking victory. Lang, a graduate of Marin Catholic High School in Kentfield, celebrated her 29th birthday by taking the victory over second place Shelley Olds (PROMAN/Paradigm) and third place Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine). The one-hour event featured a few breakaways and tight competition among the 35 entrants in the Elite Women Pro 1/2 class.

"I'm an attack sprinter, so I'm able to go longer than some of the girls," said Lang, who rides for Karl Strauss/SDBC. "I just knew I had to make the move before the last two turns if I was going to win."

Lang was a solo rider battling multi-rider teams from Webcor Builders, PROMAN/Paradigm and Cheerwine, which made her victory even more impressive over the twisting seven-mile course. "Patience is definitely important when you're riding alone," explained Lang. "I was really watching Kelly Benjamin and Martina Patella because they're both great sprinters. It was a great, fast, fun race."


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Chucke Walkden

Images by Stephen Scharf


Pro 1/2 men
1 Alessandro Bazzana (      
2 Jonathan Cantwell (Kahala-La Grange)           
3 Jackson Stewart (BMC Racing Team)              
4 Devon Vigus (California Giant/Specialized)    
5 Sean Mazich (Team Waste Management)            
6 Christopher Jones (Nerac Pro Cycling)          
7 Jared Barrilleaux (Metromint)                  
8 Chuck Coyle (             
9 Darren Lill (Navigators)                       
10 Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United)                
Pro 1/2 women
1 Anna Lang (Karl Strauss/SDBC)                  
2 Shelley Olds (PROMAN/Paradigm)                 
3 Kelly Benjamin (Cheerwine)                     
4 Malindi Maclean (Jazz Apple)                   
5 Karen Brems (Webcor Builders)                  
6 Stacy Marple (Team Tibco)                      
7 Rachel Heal (Webcor Builders)                  
8 Flavia Oliveria                                
9 Katharine Carroll (Aaron's)                    
10 Melissa Sanborn (Wenzel Coaching)