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Tour de Christiana
Christiana, Pennsylvania, August 9-10, 2003
By John Alsedek
On a weekend plagued by scattered rain showers, it was only appropriate that a team sponsored by a spring water company should take center stage. Since its inception in the late 1990's, Maryland-based Team Snow Valley has become the preeminent amateur program in the country, with a budget and infrastructure greater than many U.S. Division 3 pro teams, but an entirely different mind set.
Thanks to the vision of team director Brian Walton, a former Olympic medalist and Euro-pro with 7-Eleven & Motorola, Team Snow Valley has done a first-rate job of preparing up-and-coming racers for the rigors of the professional circuit. And that was highly apparent at the 12th annual Tour de Christiana, as they took charge of a strong regional field that included a trio of riders from the Jittery Joe's professional squad and another well-regarded developmental program, Philadelphia's Team Lite Bites.
With some of the best courses- both in terms of competitiveness and picturesque appeal (the race takes place in Pennsylvania's 'Amish Country')- in the Mid-Atlantic, and a total purse approaching $7,000, the Tour de Christiana has become a highly-regarded event in the region. Though a few racers may have been hoping for a bit of a break after the previous weekend's Tour de 'Toona, they didn't get it, as the attacks came almost from the gun: just a few miles into the 66-mile Stage One road race, Karl Woitas (Team Lite Bites) made his move, covered quickly by the other two big players, Snow Valley and Jittery Joe's.
Though the trio were brought to heel, more breakaway attempts were soon to follow, as the strong men of the race attempted to use the three kilometer feature climb to winnow out the sprinters and hangers-on. With about 20 miles remaining, an eight-man move stuck, gaining more than a minute on the disintegrating bunch before two riders- Jesse Lawler (Jittery Joe's) and Elite National Road Champion Michael Voight (Team Snow Valley)- went clear, joined later by Voight's teammate Ian Dille. While the remaining five breakaway artists lost momentum and were reeled in by the remnants of the field, the leading trio stayed clear, with Voight taking the stage; honorable mention goes out to Jittery Joe's sprint ace Jeff Hopkins, who flatted the final time up the hill, waited over 30 seconds for a wheel change, yet still had the power to catch the group and take fifth on the stage.
However, such heroics would prove meaningless the next day, as Team Snow Valley continued to rule the roost. In Sunday morning's rolling 9.8-mile time trial, Scott Zwizanski led a one-two Snow Valley finish, with Trey Reinhardt (Team Lite Bites) squeezing in for third place. That left just the famed Christiana Criterium, a highly-technical 1.25-mile circuit with an uphill finish, to decide things... and that's just what it did. After a relatively quiet beginning, the pace picked up dramatically at about quarter-distance, with the field splitting under pressure from pro squads Jittery Joe's and 'hometown heroes' Sportsbook.com, plus Snow Valley, Lite Bites, LSV/Trek/VW, and D.C.-based NCVC.
A ten-man break went clear for a few laps, then was caught just a few laps before National Madison Champion Kyle Wamsley (T.E.A.M. Fuji) made his move on the downhill section of the course. Joined individually by Dan Larson (CycleScience), Scott Zwizanski (Team Snow Valley), and Dean Rittenhouse (Team Lite Bites), this was the one that stuck, picking up in excess of 30 seconds on the field. Going into the final two laps, it turned into a bit of a chess match, as Zwizanski- realizing that he had the overall locked up so long as he stayed ahead of the bunch- attacked the break in hopes of getting rid of his companions, all of whom are well-regarded sprinters. It didn't work, however, and instead it was Wamsley who reaped the benefits, using the same downhill stretch that he'd originally attacked on to springboard himself to a solo win ahead of Rittenhouse, who held off Zwizanski to the line for second. Overall, Zwizanski finished ahead of Lawler, with Dille, Russell Langley (Team Snow Valley), and Larson rounding out the top five.
Meanwhile, the distaff side of Team Snow Valley handed out much the same treatment to the Women Open field, winning two of the three stages and taking first & third overall. And, just as with their male counterparts, their success was a group effort. Saturday's 33-mile road race saw a pileup near the end of the first lap that led to the race being shortened due to the presence of an ambulance on the course. However, that didn't quell the attacks: after one move which went just after the aforementioned crash was brought back, the race-deciding break went, as Johanna Buick (worlddiff.com) jumped clear in the company of Florida's Lori Palmer (unattached) and the savvy Liz Begosh (Team Snow Valley).
With Palmer content to largely sit on, and Begosh knowing that speedy teammate Kristy Scheffenacker was back in the bunch, the onus was on Buick to make the break stick, which she did- at the finish, it was Palmer taking the stage ahead of Begosh and Buick, giving her the overall lead. However, that situation changed on Sunday morning, as Scheffenacker took the Stage 2 time trial ahead of Buick and Begosh, setting up a virtual dead heat between the four women going into the closing criterium. Knowing that her chances in a bunch sprint were slim, New Zealand climbing ace Buick went on the attack, splintering the field for a time; however, Begosh & Scheffenacker had the situation well in hand, and brought it all back together for a group dash to the line, which was won by Scheffenacker. It was a sweet win for the 31-year old personal trainer, who was quick to credit Begosh for her assistance afterwards. Palmer took second overall, followed by Begosh, Buick, and Caryl Gale (EAS/Fitness-CRCA).
Results - Final classification
Men Pro/1/2 1 Scott Zwizanski (Team Snow Valley) 2 Jesse Lawler (Jitttery Joe's) 3 Ian Dille (Team Snow Valley) 4 Russell Langley (Team Snow Valley) 5 Dan Larson (Cycle Science) 6 Michael Voight (Team Snow Valley) 7 Craig Upton (CRCA/Breitling/Tradeware) 8 Kyle Wamsley (T.E.A.M. Fuji) 9 Chad Hartley (Jittery Joe's) 10 Trey Reinhardt (Team Lite Bites) Stage winners: Voight (Road Race), Zwizanski (Time Trial), Wamsley (Criterium) Women Open 1 Kristy Scheffenacker (Team Snow Valley) 2 Lori Palmer (unattached) 3 Elizabeth Begosh (Team Snow Valley) 4 Johanna Buick (worlddiff.com) 5 Caryl Gale (EAS/Fitness-CRCA) 6 Julie Upton (EAS/Fitness-CRCA) 7 Beth Leasure (VeloClips) 8 Jacqueline Paull (Colavita/Bolla) 9 Jessie Piel (Evolution Cycling) 10 Tracy A. Emore (Tri-State Velo/Amoroso's/Victory) Stage winners: Palmer (Road Race), Scheffenacker (Time Trial), Scheffenacker (Criterium) Other Winners Mentor/Junior competition: Keith Johnson & Paul Ward Men Category 3/4: Peter Sargent (Team Snow Valley) Men Masters 40+: Gant Soma (Team Snow Valley) Men Masters 50+: William McGinley (Cycles Veloce) Men Juniors 15-16: Richard Schenck Jr. (Vortex) Men Juniors 17-18: Paul Ward (Atlantic Velo)