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Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic - NE
California, USA, March 3-4, 2007
Stage 2 - March 4: Road Race presented by McLane Pacific
Health Net top two; Miller does it again
By Kirsten Robbins in Merced, California
Clear skies greeted the riders on the early morning start to a 193.1 kilometre day in the saddle. Several teams brought 10 men squads but it only took one man, with the strength of 10, to take victory. Health Net's 'Killer' Karl Menzies scooped up the win with teammate and former British National Champion Russell Downing taking second from Toyota-United's Ivan Dominguez in third.
"We have the strongest team here fitness wise but we only had seven guys here and some of the other teams had ten so we were a few men down," Menzies said. "We started attacking with five kilometres to go, trying to break up Toyota's rhythm and soften them up a little. Shawn Milne led it out with about seven hundred metres to go. He went so fast that we got about ten metres on everyone else straight away.
"I started to sprint with three hundred metres to go and didn't realise it was Russell behind me," added the Australian. "Rory Sutherland lead Russell out so we had a bit of a two team train happening. It was a great race for our team and we couldn't ask for any better."
The Merco course was generally flat with a couple of risers within the last five kilometres of the race.
Priority Health's Garrett Peltonen and Symmetric's Eric Wolberg time trailed their way off the front after a nineteen man break was brought back on the third lap of the five lap race. The pair's efforts off the front pulled the gap out to three minutes with one lap to go. Toyota-United and Kodak Sierra Nevada joined efforts to bring the break back in the final ten kilometres.
Health Net decided to let Toyota-United and Kodak Sierra-Nevada do all of the work needed to bring the break back in time for the sprint, a decision that paid dividends in the sprint to the line. All of the teams set up to bring their sprinters to the line once the break was in sight.
"There was a big group that went off the front but we had a few guys represented in that break," Menzies said. "When the break of two riders went on the third lap it was up to Toyota to bring it back because they had a big team here."
Menzies added: "The last section coming over the hill was so hard because of a strong head wind. Toyota-United and Kodak Sierra-Nevada helped each other chase to bring back the break. We didn't think we needed to help because we had fewer guys so we took the free ride. We also were not totally confident in the sprint because Ivan Dominguez has won two of the last races we've raced against him."
Health Net put an end to Ivan Dominguez' winning streak this afternoon. Dominguez won the final stage of the Tour of California in Long Beach and continued his success with a victory at yesterday's Merco Credit Union Grand Prix criterium. Dominguez had a full team backing him up for the sprint but had used up too many bullets in their efforts to bring back the break away.
"We were working really hard in the last two laps," Dominguez said. "Health Net raced a smart race because they didn't have as many guys so they had to wait and I think that was smart. For us, it didn't matter if it was a field sprint or a break because we have guys that can do well in both."
While a handful of the riders were well conditioned having contested last month's Tour of California, conserving energy was a key factor for the remainder of the peloton as they prepared for a sprint finish.
"This race is a good distance but it is so long and that makes riders sit in and do nothing all day," Dominguez said. "Many sat in all day and then wanted to be in the sprint in the end and a lot of accidents happened."
Dominguez added: "There were a lot of attacks and our guys were mixed in the front. There were so many people attacking in the end and I was behind Vogels coming to the sprint. We saw Karl Menzies go and Vogel's and I got a little stuck. I saw Russell get on my wheel but I couldn't think about him because I knew I just had to go. I came close to Menzies but Russell came around me on the line. I think they made the right moves today."
Russell Downing was noticed by Health Net after his win in the 2006 Tour of Bermuda, which came in a stellar European campaign last year. The sprinter comes to American racing from Great Britain and spent his 2006 season racing in Belgium for the DFL Cyclingnews-Litespeed team.
"It was a great race today and it shows that we are really strong," Downing said. "You can see the guys who have a lot of strength after racing in the Tour of California."
Brooke Miller takes fifth victory
The new sprinter on the block, Brooke Miller of Team Tibco, edged out Aaron's Sarah Caravella and TEAm Lipton's Lauren Franges to take her fifth bunch sprint of the 2007 season.
The women's road race was cut one lap short this year, making the three lap race a total of 115.8 kilometres. It was an aggressive race between almost 100 riders that started the event at nine this morning.
All teams were firing attacks but there was never the right mix of riders in the break, resulting in bunch sprint.
"My team did a great job of protecting me and we wanted it to come down to a bunch sprint," Miller said. "Webcor was particularly aggressive and put in some great attacks. It was fast and strung out for a lot of the race. On the backside of the course the field would bunch up as riders were waiting for the hills."
McLane is the first NRC road race of the season and riders noted the strength of the teams across the board will make it a competitive season.
"It was a long tough race because it seemed like all the teams were equally challenged and not one dominant team," Caravella said. "There were eight super strong teams and unless all eight teams were represented, nothing was going to get off the front today. There was a lot of attacking but it was a cat and mouse game and nothing got away."
Crashes took many in the women's field out of the event but the accidents did not stop the bike race from coming to a heated end.
"Everyone got really antsy with five kilometres to go and many of the teams started their lead out a little too early," Caravella said. "I tried to stay close to the front and wait for the girls to fall off. We had Kat Carroll attack to string out the field and Webcor was chasing her."
Christine Thornburn of Webcor pulled the field over the last riser to the finishing stretch for her speedy teammate Laura Yoisten but Caravella started her sprint with three hundred metres to go.
"I was in pretty good position and Webcor's Christine Thornburn was leading it out with a few hundred metres to go and that's when I jumped," Caravella said. "I thought I had it won but Brooke came around me on the line."
Brooke Miller was keen on finding her own way through the sprint after her Tibco teammates made a point of keeping her sheltered throughout the race.
"The last five kilometres was really fast and I was patient, knowing that a lot of people would try to get away before the finish," Miller said. "I was sitting behind Mackenzie Dickey from Colavita/Sutter Home because she is a really great sprinter. I was hoping Mackenzie was going to go and I'd get a lead out from it. I saw Sarah Caravella pull away from the field and that's when I jumped.
"I was feeling really good today and fought all the way to the line," she added.
Despite being slightly outnumbered this weekend TEAm Lipton again stood on the podium. Lauren Franges took advantage of her instincts and good positioning to come over the top of the hill with five hundred metres remaining in order to capture third place.
"We knew we didn't have as many numbers as the other teams," Franges said. "We expected a move to go today and we were prepared to follow that. But, we were not going to be concerned with bringing back or chasing down breaks. It is early season so some of us don't have the endurance to attack and cover moves all day and then sprint.
"Our two sprinters were tired from the efforts today and I was nearing the finish in good position," Franges added. "I knew there would be a possibility of something going over that climb and I wanted to be ready to cover that. From then on the sprint started and I was on Caravella's wheel when she went."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Kurt Jambretz/Action Images
Elite men 1 Kari Menzies (Aus) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 2 Russel Downing (GBr) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 3 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 4 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 5 Shawn Milne (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 6 Ivan Stevic (SCG) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 7 Dominique Rollin (Can) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 8 Dusan Ganic (SCG) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 9 Andy Jacques-Maynes (USA) California Giant/Specialized 10 Luca Damiana (Ita) Colavita - Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 11 Karl Bordine (USA) Team 5 Star 12 Dan Schmatz (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 13 Mariano Friedick (USA) Rock Racing 14 Jeremiah Wiscovitch (USA) Rock Racing 15 Martin Gilbert (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 16 Alexi Martinez (USA) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 17 Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 18 Keith Szolusha (USA) Pacific State Bank Anderson Homes Cyclin 19 Ken Hanson (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 20 Henk Vogels (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 21 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 22 Matt Johnson (USA) CyclingScience.org 23 Andrew Crater (USA) Team Wheel and Sprocket 24 Andy Guptill (USA) Colavita - Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 24 John Hunt (USA) California Giant/Specialized 25 Anthony Morrow (USA) Team 5 Star 26 Aram Dellalian (USA) Time Factory Team 27 Jamiel Danesh (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 28 Dan Timmerman (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 29 Aidan Charles (USA) (USA) Unattached 30 Mark Walters (Can) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 31 Christopher Jones (USA) Nerac Pro Cycling 32 David Nelson (USA) Landis/ Trek 33 Joshua Thornton (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 34 Robbie King (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 35 David Richter (USA) Ital Pasta 35 Patrick Dunaway (USA) California Giant/Specialized 36 David Clinger (USA) Team Rock 37 Kevin Klein (USA) KLEIN Real Estate 38 Dan Bowman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 39 Jesse Anthony (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 40 Patrick Caro (USA) Unattached 42 Ben Raby (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 43 Justin Spinelli (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 44 Frank Pipp (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 45 Tom Zirbel (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 46 Nate Diebler (USA) Team 5 Star 47 David Galvin (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 48 Joao Correia (USA) Bicycling Magazine 49 Johnny Hayes (USA) CRCA/Sakonnet Technology U25 50 Edward King (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 51 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 53 Roman Kilun (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 54 Curtis Gunn (USA) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 55 Ron Jensen (USA) Team Waste Management 56 Daniel Vaillancourt (USA) Colavita - Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 57 Adam Bergman (USA) Colavita - Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 58 Christian Valenzuela (Mex) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 59 John Parish (USA) Team Waste Management 60 Peter Andersen (USA) Unattached 61 Mike Sayers (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 62 John Tzinberg (USA) Kahala-LaGrange 63 Jacob Rosenbarger (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 64 Max Jenkins (USA) California Giant/Specialized 65 Kirk Carlsen (USA) Team Rubicon 66 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Health Net Presented By Maxxis 67 Chuck Coyle (USA) Successfulliving.com presented by Parkpre 68 Chad Hartley (USA) BMC Professional Cycling Team 69 Ted Huang (USA) Webcor Builders 70 Martin Adamczyk (USA) Lot/Polish Airlines 71 Carlos Mayoral (Mex) Kahala-LaGrange 72 Aron Gadhia (USA) Kahala-LaGrange 73 Harrison Tripp (USA) Kahala-LaGrange 74 Armando Garcia (Mex) Fullerton bikes-N 75 Michael Telega (USA) California Giant/Specialized 76 Jonathan Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast 77 Stefano Barberi (USA) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 78 Michael Dietrich (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 79 Skyler Bishop (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 80 Dirk Copeland (USA) California Giant/Specialized 81 Mike Beers (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling 82 David Vitoria (Swi) BMC Professional Cycling Team 83 Devin Flaherty (USA) CRCA/Sakonnet Technology U25 84 Sean Sullivan (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 85 Jose-Manuel Garcia (Mex) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 86 Adam Switters (USA) Rock Racing 87 Tommy Nelson (USA) Sixtufit 88 Trevor Mays (USA) Axleyusa.com / seigler sports 89 Akira Wong (USA) Organic Athlete 90 Dominique Perras (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 91 Keith Miller (USA) California Giant/Specialized 92 Scott Zwizanski (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 93 Caleb Manion (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 94 Jesse Andy Mendonca (Aus) BPG/ Montano Velo 95 Fabian Reyes (Mex) Fullerton Bikes-Novo 96 Emile Abraham (Tri) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell 97 Ryan Roth (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 98 Ryan McKenzie (Can) Team Volkswagen - Trek 99 Michael Jones (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team 100 Justin Hale (USA) Team Waste Management 101 Michael Dansk Varbaek (USA) Merrill Lynch / Bicycle John's 102 Justin Lucke (USA) OrganicAthlete p/b VegNews Magazine 103 Kevin Bouchard-Hall (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast 104 Haldane Morris (USA) Rock Racing 105 James Mattis (USA) California Giant/Specialized 106 Bradley Saul (USA) OrganicAthlete p/b VegNews Magazine 107 Dennis Guikema (USA) BPG/ Montano Velo 108 Sergio Hernandez (USA) Rock Racing 109 Mike Garrett (USA) Kahala-LaGrange 110 Omer Ken (USA) Priority Health 111 Jonathan Sundt (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast 112 Tyler Ofstad (USA) Kahala-LaGrange 113 Peter Lopinto (USA) Kodakgallery.com - Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. 114 Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team 115 Gregory Coggin (USA) Cynergy Cycles 116 Osvaldo Olmos (USA) California Giant/Specialized 117 Devon Vigus (USA) California Giant/Specialized 118 Austin Carroll (USA) Rock Racing 119 Todd Hennings (USA) Pacific State Bank / Anderson Homes 120 Andre Tremblay (Can) Team Volkswagen - Trek 121 Alexandre Moos (Swi) BMC Professional Cycling Team 122 Jonathan Coulter (USA) Webcor Alto Velo 123 Eric Riggs (USA) VMG 124 Garrett Peltonen (USA) Priority Health Cycling Team presented by Bissell Elite women 1 Brooke Miller (USA) Team TIBCO 2 Sarah Caravella (USA) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team 3 Lauren Franges (USA) Team Lipton 4 Chantal Beltman (Ned) T-Mobile Professional Cycling 5 Shelley Olds (USA) Proman/Paradigm 6 Mackenzie Dickey (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home represented by Cooking Light 7 Taitt Sato (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team 8 Laura Yoisten (Can) Webcor Builders 9 Jill Mclaughlin (USA) Touchstone Climbing 10 Anna Webb (USA) AE Sport Development 11 Michelle Beltran (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling 12 Kelly Benjamin (USA) Cheerwine 13 Christine Thorburn (USA) Webcor Builders 14 Sarah Tillotson (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home represented by Cooking Light 15 Sarah Uhl (USA) Cheerwine 16 Caitlyn Mccullough (USA) Team TIBCO 17 Shontell Gauthier (USA) Team Ultralink 18 Jennifer Wilson (USA) SouthBay Wheelmen 19 Kristin Drumm (USA) Proman/Paradigm 20 Ashlee Staroba (USA) Eastside Cycles / Scott 21 Andrea Dvorak (USA) Colavita-Sutter Home represented by Cooking Light 22 Kristin Sanders (USA) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team 23 Katharine Carroll (USA) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team 24 Martina Patella (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team 25 Liza Rachetto (USA) Team TIBCO 26 Abby Lyn Cooper (USA) Proman/Paradigm 27 Kara Vidaca (USA) Bicycle John's Serious Cycling 28 Courtenay Brown (USA) ValueAct Capital Cycling Team 29 Katheryn Curi (USA) Webcor Builders 30 Brenda Lyons (USA) Team Lipton 31 Victoria Bastide (USA) Team TIBCO 32 Catherine Powers (USA) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team 33 Heather Albert (USA) America's Dairyland 34 Moriah Macgregor (Can) AE Sport Development 35 Betsy Galenti (USA) America's Dairyland 36 Kate Ligler (USA) Proman/Paradigm 37 Joanie Caron (Can) AE Sport Development 38 Jennifer Reither (USA) SouthBay Wheelmen 39 Anke Wichmann (Ger) T-Mobile Professional Cycling 40 Laurel Green (USA) Team Mack Paper Company 41 Meredith Miller (USA) Team Lipton 42 Tracey Ford (USA) Unattached 43 Katherine Lambden (USA) Team TIBCO 44 Rachel Heal (GBr) Webcor Builders 45 Megan Elliott (USA) Targetraining 46 Trish Bell (USA) Morgan Stanley 47 Reem Jishi (USA) Advil ChapStick 48 Tracy Kubas (USA) AE Sport Development 49 Chrissy Ruiter (USA) Cheerwine 50 Elisa Gagnon (Can) Advil ChapStick 51 Kimberly Anderson (USA) T-Mobile Professional Cycling 52 Lea Adams (USA) Helens/Orbea 53 Beverly Harper (USA) Webcor Builders 54 Amber Rais (USA) Webcor Builders 55 Jane Despas (USA) Klein Real Estate 56 Jennifer Van Muckey (USA) Easton Specilized 57 Amy Mcguire (USA) Wachovia / International Bicycle Centers 58 Sarah Lightfoot (USA) Metromint Cycling 59 Elis Bradshaw (USA) Metromint Cycling 60 Caroline Dahllof (USA) Helen's Orbea 61 Sarah Bamberger (USA) Cheerwine 62 Felicia Gomez (Can) Aaron's Pro Cycling Team