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La Vuelta de Bisbee - NE
USA, April 24-26, 2009
By Alan Fischer
The 31st edition of La Vuelta de Bisbee kicks off in this small southern Arizona town on the border of Mexico on Friday evening. Riders will start the four-stage race with a 2.8-mile prologue that grinds up 709 feet in elevation through the rustic former copper mining center.
Columbian Gregorio Vega won last year's La Vuelta de Bisbee prologue time trial by 15 second on his way to taking a wire-to-wire overall win at the classic race. Vega returns this year with a full eight-member Tecos Trek team to try and dominate La Vuelta for a second year.
Race director Albert Hopper predicts a showdown between Tecos Trek and Team Type 1, which also has eight riders. Phil Zajicek and his two Fly V Australia teammates JR Grabinger and Benjamin King are also potential spoilers for the win.
Zajicek, who won the overall La Vuelta title in 2006, predicts the tough field, combined with Bisbee's climbs and strong spring winds, will make for a very challenging event.
He cites Team Type 1's Darren Lill and Chris Jones as favorites, along with Andrew Guptill and Tyler Wren of Colavita Sutter.
Mexico's Tecos Trek squad can't be underestimated, either. "It seems the whole team is always incredibly strong," Zajicek said. "With eight guys that is really going to change things."
Local teams, which include RideClean and Landis-Trek, always seem to rise to the occasion to challenge at Bisbee, Zajicek said. "The stronger the field, the harder the race, which is better for me," he said. "With so many big teams it makes it easier to follow the big moves, the dangerous guys."
As for Zajicek, he said his fitness is good and he wants to focus on the prologue and Stage 2 Warren Time Trial to pull out an overall win at La Vuelta as well as hone his form for the following week's Tour of the Gila.
"Training has been going very well in Colorado. I've been spending a lot of time climbing in the mountains," he said. "Bisbee has some history for me. I would love to win it."
Hopper said that 78 Pro 1-2 riders and 87 Masters Men 35+ riders are slated to line up for the prologue, with the first rider off a 5 p.m.
La Vuelta continues with the 83-mille Sulphur Springs Road Race Saturday morning and the 7.2-mile Warren Time Trial Saturday afternoon.
The race concludes with Sunday's Tombstone Road Race, an 84-mile trek that includes climbs up both sides of Mule Pass, which tops out at 5,930 feet in elevation.
Men 2008 Gregorio L Vega (Tecos) 2007 Daniel Ramsey (Succesful Liv) 2006 Phil Zajicek (Navigators Ins) 2005 Clemente Cavaliere (Aerospace Eng) 2004 Davide Frattini (Ita) Team Monex 2003 Andrew Miller (USA) Landis/Trek/VW Women 2008 Kelly Mcdonald (Touchstone Climbing) 2007 Meshy Holt (expresscopy.com) 2006 Felicia Gomez (Webcor/Alto Velo) 2005 Brooke Ourada (T-Mobile) 2004 Lynn Gaggioli (USA) T-Mobile 2003 Manon Jutras (Can) Saturn Cycling Team Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com