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Tri-peaks Challenge - NE
Russellville, Arkansas, May 17-20, 2007
Stage 3 - May 19: Criterium, 1.2 mile
Toyota-United's déjà vu
By Kirsten Robbins
The men raced a tactical criterium in stage three of the Tri Peaks Challenge. Coming to the finish, Toyota-United's Henk Vogels pushed his teammates Ivan Stevic and Caleb Manion to the line in a one, two stylish finish while Rock Racing's Rashaan Bahati took a close third.
The finish was remarkable similar to last year's criterium when Stevic and his teammate Ivan Dominguez took the top two places on the podium. "The race went perfect for us we really raced it perfectly," Toyota-United's Ivan Stevic said. "It was easy to win with Henk leading it out and he did everything in the last laps."
Both Toyota-United and AEG-Toshiba were off the hook after three laps when their strong break away riders Sean Sullivan (Toyota-United) and Frank Travieso (AEG-Toshiba) snapped away from the field. The duo worked for nearly the entirety of the race but with 20 minutes to go Health Net brought its cavalry to the front and brought the two escapees back with five laps remaining.
Stevic, a Tour de Georgia stage winner, jumped after a monster lead out from Vogels. "From two corners to go I went as hard as I could and Caleb was on my wheel," he explained. "It was close between Bahati and Manion and I think they threw their bikes."
"I'm not in the same situation as last year so I would rather help the team than to just win the last stage," Stevic said. "We have a good chance to win the overall with Chris [Baldwin]. I'm going to try to make it easier for Chris or we'll have to make it so hard that in the end Baldwin can just go for it."
Aussie throws down a Tri-Peaks challenge
In the women's race Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini-Specialized) gained her first win of the season in North America, just days after landing on the continent. The Australian took the sprint from the last corner and blasted to the finish ahead of Alex Wrubleski (Colavita/Sutter Home) and race leader Amber Rais (Webcor Builder).
"The crit was what I came here to win and I told the new team that I thought I could win it when I arrived here so that put pressure on me to actually do it," Gilmore said
It was no holds bared during the hour of speed, in an attempt to knock Webcor off its winning steak. "We wanted to use the crit to conserve our energy for this afternoon's time trial but with only three of us, we had to cover all the moves too," said Great Britain's Rachael Heal (Webcor Builder). "I and Katheryn covered most of the attacks and left Amber to cover Chrissy."
Though several breaks got away throughout the race, none lasted more than a lap. Arguably one of the most aggressive riders in the bunch was Volkswagen-Trek's Sue Haywood and as a whole Cheerwine was actively on the move for most of the race.
In the end it came down to a field sprint, where one of the fastest sprinters to come out of Australia made her move and put on a show for the spectators. As the race come to a close Cheerwine, Colavita and Webcor kept the speeds high, but a crash at the final chicane took out Webcor's Katheryn Curi. The sprint continued with Gilmore leading through the final corner followed closely by Alex Wrubleski and Amber Rais.
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Kurt Jambretz/Action Images
Pro men 1 Ivan Stevic (USA) Toyota-United Pro Cycling 1.02.48 2 Rahsaan Bahati (USA) Rock Racing 3 Caleb Manion (USA) Toyota-United Pro Cycling 4 Keith Norris (USA) AEG-TOSHIBA-JetNetwork 5 Frank Pipp (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis Pro women 1 Rochelle Gilmore (Menikini) 2 Alex Wrubleski (Colavita/Sutter Home) 3 Amber Rais (Webcor)