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AT & T Downtown Criterium - NE
Austin, Texas, USA, June 16, 2007
Travieso, McRae take hard-fought sprint wins
By Matt Krebsbach
Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork) won a hard-charging field sprint ahead of Frank Pipp (HealthNet/Maxxis) in the men's pro event at the Fourth Annual AT&T Austin Downtown Criterium in Austin, Texas on Saturday. Travieso stormed to the line from inside the pack after it swallowed up early breakaway rider Sean Sullivan (Toyota United) with a mere 300 meters remaining in the race. Sullivan's Toyota United teammate, Serbian national champion Ivan Stevic, took third, behind second placed Frank Pipp (Priority Health).
"I said to myself that I had to do it," said Travieso. "I attacked on the last lap to get the breakaway. Things were going really fast, but when I go to the last corner I looked back and I had got a real big gap."
Travieso had almost become a race casualty when he struck his knee on the top tube of his bike frame as he initiated his effort. "I almost crashed because I took that corner too fast and almost lost my rear wheel," he explained. "But I got control of my bike, kept my sprint, and made it the whole way."
While the Toyota United squad put in its usual strong effort at the front, having only three guys, Sean Sullivan, Ivan Stevic and Henk Vogels, at the event made the task at hand difficult.
"We were hoping Sean would make it to the finish," Stevic said. "It was really hard to control things with only three guys."
Fresh off of two wins at the Tulsa Tough Cycling Festival, Austinite Jen McRae (Advil-Chapstick) came good on her billing as the pro women's race favorite. McRae held off Shontell Gauthier (Team Ultralink) and Allyson Brandt (HealthCoach), to take the women's victory. Throughout the one kilometer circuit, McRae was never far from the front of the field, showing that she's still one of the best female racers in the North America.
Speed dominates Austin course
The fourth stop on the USA Crits national criterium series, the AT&T Downtown Austin Criterium offered the professional fields a distinctly Austin experience. Held in conjunction with the Keep Austin Weird festival, the race was part of a day-long series of events celebrating Austin's heritage as a fitness, music, and community-driven city. The one kilometer circuit, set against the backdrop of Austin's scenic skyline, drew thousands of spectators as they crammed city sidewalks and the outdoor patios of area restaurants to get a view of the action.
After category races earlier in the day and the women's pro race, the men came to the line in time to watch Texas Governor Rick Perry, an avid cyclist and runner who has named health and fitness as a top priority in his administration, ride two pre-race ceremonial laps.
With a $10,000 purse, the men's field immediately struck a high tempo, and series leader Mark Hekman (A&F Pro Development) hit the front to drive the pace. In addition to Stevic and Sullivan, Toyota United also had the advantage of teammate Vogels, who helped push the pace.
Kristian House (Navigators) and Stefan Rothe (Mercy Cycling) kept their faces at the front to make their presence known early in the race. The local teams also had their own cards to play, including current Texas State Champion Andrew Dahlheim and last year's winner Carlos Vargas (Team Hotel San Jose/Silicon Labs).
Combined with the aggressive speed, the sharp corners made it difficult for early moves to stick, and it wasn't until nearly 30 minutes had passed in the 70 minute race that Sullivan was able to form a three-man breakaway with Hekman and Phil Wikoff (HealthCoach). The trio worked well together until the late stages of the race, though their lead never grew to more than 20 seconds over the field.
As the race neared the 60 minute mark, the peloton strung out and began to close on the leaders. On each successive lap, the time gap whittled away, with Team Hotel San Jose's evergreen racer Barry Lee raising his arms to push the crowd into a frenzy.
With five laps reaming the gap hovered at 10 seconds, and the pack overtook Hekman and Wikoff with little more than one lap to go. Sullivan clung to a four second advantage but, as the field came through, his days looked to be numbered. As the race emerged through the final corner, Sullivan had been gobbled up and the peloton was drilling it on the final 300 meters toward the finish. Travieso timed his move perfectly and cleared the rest of the field with 50 meter gap to celebrate his victory.
USA Crit Series standings
With his win in Austin, AEG-Toshiba's Travieso has moved into second place overall in the USA Crits series. Abercrombie & Fitch's Hekman continues to sit atop the leader board a string of strong performances since his win at the Athens Twilight criterium in April. Hekman also leads the standings for laps led.
In the women's standings, Jen McRae's win places her at ninth in the overall standings, while Cheerwine's Laura Van Gilder's lead has been cut to only four points over Shontelle Gauthier (Team Ultralink). Meanwhile, Allyson Brandt continues to lead the laps led competition.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Rick Kent/www.endurophoto.com
Pro men 1 Frank Travieso (AEG Toshiba) 2 Frank Pipp (Health-Net) 3 Ivan Stevic (Toyota United) 4 Henk Vogels (Toyota United) 5 Chad Cagle (Mercy Cycling Team) 6 Daniel Holloway (VMG) 7 Carlos Vargas (Hotel San Jose) 8 Mark Hekman (A&F Pro Development Team) 9 Rich Harper (A&F Pro Development Team) 10 Edgar Trevino (Orven) 11 Alexander Boyd (VMG) 12 Brandon Gavic (A&F Pro Development Team) 13 Kevin Kremke (Bike Barn Texas) 14 Domingo Gonzales (Orven) 15 Will Ross (Hotel San Jose) 16 Billy Kurtz (Brain & Spine) 17 Brent Turner (Bike Barn Texas) 18 Andrew Dahlheim (Hotel San Jose) 19 Wes Mundy (Odwalla) 20 Phil Wikoff (HealthCoach) Pro women 1 Jen McRae (Team Advil/Chapstick) 2 Shontelle Gauthier (Team Ultralink) 3 Allyson Brandt 4 Kate Sherwin (Austin Flyers) 5 Daniele Staskal (Austin Flyers) 6 Sheri Jordan (Austin Flyers) 7 Ivana Miucic 8 Jenny Wilhite (Austin Flyers) 9 Laura Whittle (Velo Force)