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2nd San Francisco GP - 1.3
USA, September 15, 2002
Lance Looms Large
By Tim Maloney, European editor in San Francisco
The City By The Bay welcomes the second annual San Francisco Grand Prix and once again, four time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong heads the start list of 176 riders for the 176km road race through the streets of San Francisco. Unlike last year's inaugural edition, Armstrong is not riding sick and is reportedly quite motivated to win this challenging race. Although shorter than last year's edition, the SFGP is tough course with almost 2800 meters of climbing over the eight large laps of 16 km and 5 smaller finishing circuits of 8.4km, all run on a tough, bumpy urban circuit. Two KOM's per large lap are on the Fillmore Street hill at Broadway and Taylor and Union, while the small lap has just the tough Taylor St. climb.
The peloton will certainly be motivated by the prestige and honour of a win in the SFGP, as well as $10,000 plus a brand new Saturn ION car first prize, but if Armstrong is feeling good, it will be tough for any team to match him and the USPS squad, with and TDF team riders Floyd Landis, Slava Ekimov and powerful Czech Pavel Padrnos riding support.
Last year's winner George Hincapie is still on the comeback trail from his tough fall in last months Clasica San Sebastian. "I'm feeling OK", Hincapie told Cyclingnews at Friday's press conference, held at SF's Niketown. "I'm not 100% - I'm over my injury and been trying to get back in shape the last couple of weeks. But my body just hasn't been feeling like it normally does. But last year I was feeling really great at this point (in the year) despite the long season. We'll see - "
US Champ Chann McRae, who is departing the USPS squad next year is motivated to show his stars and stripes jersey on Sunday. "I'm feeling very good right now - my body's intact!"
As for the rumours that McRae might focus on triathlon next year after winning a tri in Texas, the Austin based McRae wouldn't actively confirm or deny the rumours.
Kevin Livingston of Team Telekom will ride the SFGP on a mixed team with Danny Van Haute's Jelly Belly-Carlsbad Clothing team. The likeable Livingston confirmed that "this will be my last big race. It's too bad the Telekom team couldn't come because of injuries (and Telekom's Bobby Julich and his wife Angela are expecting their first child this weekend in Philadelphia) but I'm here to show the colours. My whole family is coming out and surprisingly my legs are feeling good. I took some time off after I moved back from Europe to Texas but I'm good."
As for the other challengers, Chris Wherry (Mercury) is just off a brilliant win in the Saturn race last month but his Mercury team is certainly no match for the dominant USPS team. Watch Wherry's team-mate Tom Danielson as well. This young climber, who recently broke Tyler Hamilton's Mt. Washington Hillclimb record is rumoured to be moving from the soon to be defunct Mercury team to USPS next year.
Saturn really doesn't have a rider for this race unless Trent Klasna can regain his form of 2001, while Tim Johnson can be expected to give it a go as well. Navigators and Prime Alliance have brought respectable teams to the SFGP, with the New Jersey squads climber Burke Swindlehurst and the Colorado team's Danny Pate likely to be among the best riders. Although both Acqua & Sapone and Saeco-Longoni Sport have their top teams at the Vuelta a Espaņa, but both Italian teams with American bike sponsors have brought quality riders to the SFGP.
Zebra striped A&S have two riders in very good shape for SF; both Sicilian climber Michelle Scarponi and Massimo Giunti are danger men. Saeco-Longoni Sport have young talent Damiano Cunego, 1999 Jr. World Champ and German Christian Wegman, while Italian stagiaire Alex Del Sarto is a good climber.
The 2002 San Francisco Grand Prix Preview begins on Sunday 15 September at 8:30 am in front of Justin Herman Plaza on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market Street, with the finish expected at 13:30. Weather is expected to be a beautiful San Francisco day; cool with some fog in the morning, with a sun towards late morning. As last year, huge crowds are expected all along the circuit, especially on Fillmore & Taylor and the finish along the Embarcadero.
Cyclingnews will be covering the San Francisco Grand Prix in its entirety, beginning at 8:30am local time (PDT)/11:30am EDT/17:30 CEST/01:30 Aust. EST (Monday)
This 109 mile road race starts and finishes on the Embarcadero at the end of Market Street, near the citys famous Ferry Building in San Francisco. From The Start/Finish, the course winds through North Beach, along Fishermans Wharf and the Marina. Halfway through the 10-mile circuit, the flatlands along the beautiful bay give way to the gut-busting climb up Fillmore Street. Once the riders reach the top of the steep 3-block climb; they will race through Russian Hill, back through North Beach and to the Embarcadero.
Lap Length: 16.65 km/10.3 miles