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First Union USPRO Championships - 1.2
Philadelphia, PA, USA, June 9, 2002
Perseverance pays off: Chann McRae wins First Union USPRO title
Navigators Walters takes Championship race
By Tim Maloney, Cyclingnews European editor
Old William Penn may have been looking down from his perch atop Philadelphia's City Hall today on the First Union USPRO Championships, repeating the old adage of "nothing is better for thee than me". Perhaps Chann McRae heard him and knew somehow that Penn meant, in his case, determination, hard work and perseverance pay off in the end, especially if you want to win a bike race. "All I know is that perseverance pays off; if it wasn't for my wife and daughter, I could have never done it", declared Chann McRae today as he donned the stars and stripes jersey of the US National Pro Road champion in Philadelphia.
And he should know: Chann has had more than his share of ups and downs in his career as a pro cyclist. In fact, McRae crashed at the Four Days Of Dunquerque last month and broke the radial head of his right ulna, almost putting him out of action at the USPRO Championships. The quiet 30 year old from Austin has played his dues since turning pro with the likes of tiny squads like Spain's Santa Clara that folded and left him high and dry in Spain, or the ambitious, ill-fated Mercury-Viatel squad that imploded at mid-season last year, stiffing the Texan rider but enabling him to get picked up on a trial basis by USPS for last year's Vuelta, McRae rode in a support role and finished 96th and earned a full-time contract with the team for 2002.
Mc Rae is certainly no slouch on the bike. He was twice national champ while amateur, and while riding for Mapei-Quick Step in 1999-2000, the talented Texan was a top 20 finisher in both the Giro and Vuelta, as well as a 5th place in the Worlds in '99 in Verona, Italy and 8th place in '00 in Plouay, France.
McRae was runner-up in the dash to the line for first behind talented Canadian 25 year old Mark Walters (Navigators), who bested McRae and American Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) from a three man break that formed in the last two miles.
Mark Walters told Cyclingnews that "Everybody's legs were tired at the end and I was worried that I might cramp - but I had a good opportunity, today with Kirk (O'Bee) behind me, trying to go for the (US) Championship, I had every reason to just sit on the break and go for the win." Clad in his white and red maple leaf Canadian Champion's jersey, Walters sprinted from last position win the $40,000 first prize. Navigators GM Ray Cipollini told Cyclingnews that "Mark is really quiet; some people say he's cerebral. We think he's j just an all around good guy. He's been with our (Navigators) program for four years and he's a good all-around rider. Having him win here today was just awesome and having two guys in the front group shows we have a lot of depth on the Navigators team. We came here the today to win the race today; it's wonderful to win the US Championship but our goal was to win."
Often the bridesmaid and never before the bride in Philly, Navigators took a well-deserved win today as they worked hard all day to control the outcome of the race. The day started with a high overcast and little wind, but the good weather was true to the tradition of the race, which has never suffered bad weather. The USPRO Championships has a unique urban parkland setting, with the start / finish area on Ben Franklin Parkway, in front of the famed "Rocky" steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum. There are 10 long laps of 14.4 miles along the Schuylkill River in Fairmont Park, each one capped by the famous Manayunk Wall, a brutal rise of only a half mile that gains 230 feet in elevation at an average grade of nine percent, but is up to 18 percent in sections. USPRO Championships finish with three finishing circuits of three miles over Lemon Hill and out and back along the Ben Franklin Parkway. Besides the great urban setting and championship calibre field, the First Union USPRO Championship is known for huge crowds (today in excess of 250,000) and festive atmosphere, especially for the raucous reception the riders get on the Manayunk Wall.
Early on, Prime Alliance tried to flex their muscles with hard tempo from the gun, but they couldn't stop Lotto's Glenn D'Hollander and Eugene Wacker (Mroz) from grabbing a lead of 35 seconds with seven large laps to go. D'Hollander was looking for exposure, while Wacker had KOM points on his mind, but eventually the Liberty Bell rang for the duo as Navigators and Saturn tried to close the gap. The race was fast, with 52.6 miles raced in the first 2 hours. After four times up the Manayunk, Wacker was alone in the front with D'Hollander absorbed by chasers Moninger and Wherry (Mercury), Casey (USPS) and Stephenson (Prime Alliance). This group caught Wacker on Kelly Drive and at mid-race, the pace was fast. After three hours of racing, the average speed was 27.2 mph and the group of six had pulled out almost three minutes on the disorganized chase.
Navigators decided that was the right moment to chase and with five large laps to go, they put the hammer down and pulled back big chunks of time right away from the weakening break.
On the sixth large lap, the break lost their Philadelphia Freedom as they were caught on the Manayunk Wall. Saturn's Soren Petersen and Danny Pate (Prime Alliance) slipped away but were caught soon after. The next phase of the race was starting as with 105 miles to go, the last third of the race would be essential to determine who had the legs and the smarts to win. After four hours of racing, the average speed was rapid; 27mph. With three large laps to go, Italian Cristian Pepoli (Saeco-Longoni Sport) had the legs to go for the KOM title. Pepoli won the next two consecutive KOM primes on Manayunk and Lemon Hill, capturing the KOM title and in the bargain, Pepoli's moves eventually blew the field into three groups. The die was cast now; with two large laps and the finishing circuits left to ride, a group of 53 was in command, with USPS riding hard tempo on the front to keep it them ahead of the remnants of the chase.
On the crucial last lap, with only the final climb of the Manayunk Wall left, 1999 USPRO champ George Hincapie (USPS) made a major attack to try and get away from the big group. Hincapie's move succeeded in dumping the majority of the front group, as eventually 13 riders extricated themselves from the larger 53 man group.
This baker's dozen rode into the final finishing circuits with 30 seconds on the fading chase. Kirk O'Bee (Navigators) was looking strong, and the gap increased as the lookie-loo games continued up front. Despite themselves, the break still took time from the chasers and with two laps to go, the gap was now a minute. On the last lap, McRae made his move, Pate and Walters followed and the Canadian sprinted home for the win, while McRae bested Pate for the USPRO title. A grateful McRae explained to Cyclingnews that "If Lance didn't say 'put McRae on' this year, I probably wouldn't be here so thanks to him and USPS I'm here. Being USPRO champion is a dream come true for any professional, but for me it's a miracle."
Some nice, some quirky by Justin Balog
These sensational photos provided by Ralph Rookey
These photos courtsey of Nick Atkins
Images by Todd M. Leister
Images by Tim Maloney, cyclingnews.com European Editor
Images by Rob Karman/www.roadbikephotos.com
Images by Jonathan Devich/TheFastrack.com
Litespeed take a detour
1 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Cycling Team 5.54.24 (42.57 km/h) 2 Chann McRae (USA) US Postal Service* 3 Danny Pate (USA) Prime Alliance Cycling Team 4 Henk Vogels (Aus) Mercury 5 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal Service 6 Mark McCormack (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 7 Mariano Friedick (USA) Jelly Belly 8 Zbigniew Piatek (Pol) Mroz 9 Damon Kluck (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 10 Thomas Gronqvist (Swe) Amore & Vita Beretta 11 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Cycling Team 12 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal Service 0.13 13 Chris Wherry (USA) Mercury 0.20 14 Sbastien Mattozza (Bel) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 1.26 15 David McKenzie (Aus) iTeamnova.com 1.31 16 Chad Gerlach (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 17 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Saturn Cycling Team 18 Erik Saunders (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 19 Krzysztof Krzywy (Pol) Mroz 20 Mike Sayers (USA) Mercury 21 Trent Klasna (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 22 Peter Rogers (Aus) iTeamnova.com 23 John Peters (USA) Prime Alliance Cycling Team 24 Tom Boonen (Bel) US Postal Service 25 Dirk Friel (USA) Jittery Joes-Choco-Andean Eco Coffee 26 Zbigniew Wyrzykowski (Pol) Mroz 27 Doug Ziewacz (USA) 7Up / Nutra Fig 28 Soren Petersen (Den) Saturn Cycling Team 29 Viktor Rapinski (Blr) Saturn Cycling Team 30 Cristian Pepoli (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 31 Jesus Zarate Estrada (Mex) Mercury 32 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco-Longoni Sport 1.54 33 Aurlien Clerc (Swi) Mapei-Quick Step 2.34 34 David O'loughlin (Irl) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 35 Oscar Mason (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport 36 Giampaolo Cheula (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 37 Plamen Stoyanov (Bul) Mercury 38 Oleg Grishkine (Rus) Navigators Cycling Team 3.08 39 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Cycling Team 40 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 5.54 41 Adam Wadecki (Pol) Mroz 5.56 42 Charles Dionne (Can) 7Up / Nutra Fig 43 Juan Fuentes Angullo (Spa) Saeco-Longoni Sport 44 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service 6.06 45 Allan Davis (Aus) Mapei-Quick Step 46 John Lieswyn (USA) 7Up / Nutra Fig 6.18 47 Scott Guyton (NZl) iTeamnova.com 48 Tom Leaper (Aus) Navigators Cycling Team 6.23 49 Leonardo Zanotti (Ita) Mapei-Quick Step 50 Cesar Grajales Calle (Col) Jittery Joes-Choco-Andean Eco Coffee 51 Justin Spinelli (USA) Saeco-Longoni Sport 52 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) Mixed Team 1 6.39 53 Alan Iacuone (Aus) iTeamnova.com 54 Pawel Niedzwiecki (Pol) Mroz 55 Piotr Chmielewski (Pol) Mroz 56 Frank McCormack (USA) Saturn Cycling Team 57 Eddy Gragus (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 9.36 57 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Mixed Team 1 57 Chris Baumann (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 57 Tim Larkin (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 57 Leif Hoste (Bel) Mixed Team 1 57 Matt Dubberley (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 57 David Wyandt (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 57 Michael Rogers (USA) Mapei-Quick Step 57 Dylan Casey (USA) US Postal Service 57 Brent Dawson (USA) Jelly Belly 57 John Hunt (USA) Sierra Nevada - Cannondale Cycling Team 57 James Hodnett (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 57 Hans De Clercq (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 57 Russell Stephenson (USA) Prime Alliance Cycling Team 57 James Perry (USA) Amore & Vita Beretta 57 Josh Hall (USA) Sympatico-Jet Fuel Coffee 57 Jon Van Heel (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 57 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling 57 Jean-Franois Laroche (USA) Sympatico-Jet Fuel Coffee 57 Wesley Van Speybroeck (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 57 Ryan Barrett (USA) Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling 57 Dominique Perras (Can) iTeamnova.com 57 Trent Wilson (Aus) iTeamnova.com 57 Glenn D'Hollander (Bel) Lotto-Adecco 57 Jonas Ljungblad (Swe) Amore & Vita Beretta 57 Luke Stockwell (Aus) Jittery Joes-Choco-Andean Eco Coffee 57 Jacob Erker (Can) Schroeder Iron Pro Cycling 57 Jeff Louder (USA) Landbouwkrediet-Colnago 57 Colby Pierce (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 57 Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly 57 Derek Bouchard-Hall (USA) Mercury *Chann McRae is US Pro champion for 2002
2001 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Domo-Farm Frites 251 kms in 5.57.56 (42.15 km/h) 2000 Henk Vogels (Aus) Mercury-Viatel 251 kms in 5.52.11 (42.76 km/h) 1999 Jacob Piil (Den) Acceptcard 251 kms in 6.04.44 (41.30 km/h) 1998 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal 251 kms in 6.06.35 (41.08 km/h) 1997 Massimiliano Lelli (Ita) 251 kms in 5.54.50 (42.44 km/h) 1996 Eddy Gragus (USA) 1995 Norm Alvis (USA) 1994 Sean Yates (GBr) 1993 Lance Armstrong (USA) 1992 Bart Bowen (USA) 1991 Michel Zanoli (Ned) 1990 Paolo Cimini (Ita) 1989 Greg Oravetz (USA) 1988 Robert Gaggioli (Ita) 1987 Tom Schuler (USA) 1986 Thomas Prehn (USA) 1985 Eric Heiden (USA) Past winners courtesy of Bob Schwartz