|Cyclingnews TV News Tech Features Road MTB BMX Cyclo-cross Track Photos Fitness Letters Search Forum|
USPRO Criterium Championship - 1.3
Chicago, USA, August 22, 2004
Carney finishes career on top
Ventura slides out in final turn
By Mark Zalewski in Downers Grove, Illinois
The Green Monster at Fenway, the last turn at Daytona, turn eight at Downers Grove -- all are equally infamous for deciding winners and non-winners -- and at the USPRO Criterium Championships, turn eight struck again, claiming Robbie Ventura (USPS p/b Berry Floor) as the victim and launching Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly p/b Aramark) to the best career-finishing win he could ask for. "Sometimes things work out perfectly and you win, and today was one of those days," Carney summed up perfectly.
"I was probably a little too far back with a half-lap to go, threaded a few holes and almost died, and then it opened up in front of me and I blew past everyone," Carney explained.
Years of experience went into his game-plan for the race: "I was hiding out -- between like 20th and 40th the whole race -- I was in total energy conservation mode, saving everything for the last lap. It was so windy that nobody could do a lead out. Somebody hit the front and start going and would hit a wall of wind. It would just stop their lead out. I'd just tried to relax and use everything I've learned over the past 15 years to keep my head on straight. Not to hit the panic button and keep my nose out of the wind."
Gord Fraser's teammate, Tyler Farrar finished second, but just narrowly. "It was crazy -- no one could get a lead out going so it was a big blob coming into the finish. Everyone jumped going into the last turn. Then Ventura laid it out and we were all laying on the brakes. I came through about fourth. But Carney just rode the sprint perfect. I mean by the time I came out of the corner he was already five bike lengths up the road, so it was kind of over."
Webcor's Chris Horner finished just off the podium in sixth, but was still happy with his team's performance. "This was our best performance in a criterium that this team has ever put on. We just had six guys and never missed a move, but Jonas was gone! I wasn't gonna even touch that. And Robbie made a "gap" for him -- unfortunate for (Robbie). He looked like he was clean through the corner, but that corner seems to claim somebody every year."
Australian Henk Vogels (Navigators), riding in his final race in America, did his best to get Vasilli Davidenko to the line first. "We set the lead out perfectly, but Ventura knocked Vasilli off the wheel and then proceeded to take himself out too."
For Carney, the 15-year veteran of the U.S. criterium circuit, winning the stars and stripes puts a cap on a career full of hard-fought sprint wins. And even though his friends and teammates all wondered if he will postpone retirement for another year in order to race in the jersey for a year, Carney quickly put the questions to rest. "Everyone's been saying, 'If you win it you gotta race!' But I'm still gonna retire. I'd love to race the whole season with the jersey, and there is a big part of me that wants to keep racing. But there is another big part of me that wants to do something else. This sport is so hard, and for the average person, the average cycling enthusiast, if they knew what it was like out there for the last 10 laps... there are a million reasons why I want to retire."
How it unfolded
With 18 laps remaining, a surprise solo attack from Floyd Landis (USPS p/b Berry Floor) woke up the field with a lap and a half of chasing. Coming off his strong Tour campaign, Landis put some old-fashioned European hurt into the domestic legs for a lap and a half.
The last 10 laps were certainly action-packed and tense, with most of the field still in the race. A strong wind on the course prevented any breakaways from lasting, and a large field sprint on this course sent shivers down many a team director's spine. Regardless, Health Net sent their breakaway man Mike Sayers up the road numerous times. Sayers almost held on one time for the mid-race prime, but was caught just before. All was not lost as his Health Net teammate John Lieswyn took over the charge and pocketed the $1,000. The effort was obvious on Lieswyn's face as he immediately dropped to the rear to recover.
Later on it was Landis on the front again, chasing down another solo flyer by Mike Sayers, who almost snuck away with eight laps to go. Landis and Ventura were one-two on the front for more than two laps reeling in Sayers, as Tony Cruz moved through the field to help set-up the finish. After finishing off Sayers, Landis swung off the front and Robbie was left to work with Jelly Belly and Navigators.
With two laps to go it was Health Net fighting to bring Gord Fraser to the front with Ventura riding two-wide with the Canadian National Champion. The last few laps around the course saw the field edge closer and closer to the curb as riders went wider and wider to stay near the front. With two to go, a Jittery Joe's rider went too close and clipped the fencing in turn five, but managed to stay upright. Into the final lap, it was three Navigators on the front, two Posties in Ventura and Cruz and Gord Fraser.
With high enough speed, the field managed to stay strung-out enough to make it through turn five clean -- which meant that 120+ riders would be flying through the tight 90-degree turn eight -- with every single one fighting for position.
Ventura led into turn eight with Jonas Carney passing on the outside, when the sound that makes every racer cringe could be heard. "Henk had the lead out going, but Robbie was on his wheel and I was on Robbie's wheel, and Robbie just wouldn't pull the trigger," explained third place Gord Fraser. "I was caught flat footed waiting for him, and by the time I reacted Jonas had got the jump and Robbie went and washed out." Ventura slid through the entire turn and crashed his front wheel hard into the wall, bending it in half.
Taking the outside line and not having to sprint in the wind were the keys to Carney's win. "I had they best line, so I knew I wasn't going down. Everyone else was farther inside -- and there's a crash in that corner very frequently," said Carney. "It's always safe to lead it out -- half the time the guys behind you crash. I told myself before the race that if I have the opportunity to lead it out, to lead it out.
"Third to last turn I was in about twelfth, shot up the outside and passed three guys along the gutter, was in about eighth coming into the second to last corner, and I just shot up the right side all the way down the gutter, and all the other guys in the front hit the huge headwind. Robbie had the lead and was trying to save something going into the last corner and I just went straight past him on the outside. I think I caught everybody off-guard. Everyone was hoping to be first in the (last) corner and I just went past them on the outside.
"It's funny that I am this aware when I am sprinting, but I heard the crowd let out this big 'Ohhhhh!' in the corner after I went through, and I heard the clank. I thought, 'Just finish it!' and I always look down when I am sprinting, and there wasn't anybody there -- I took a glance back and there was nobody there."
Carney drove the last 150 meters by himself and raised his arms to salute the huge crowd. Tyler Farrar took the second place, with teammate Gord Fraser in third. Carney's teammate Alex Candalario came through for fifth to put two Jelly Belly riders on the podium.
And for the second year in a row, the US criterium peloton will not have a stars and stripes jersey in its ranks, with the title-holder hanging up the bike while on the very top.
Images by Jon Devich/www.epicimages.us
Images by Matthew E. Moses
Images by Ken Carl/www.kencarl.com
1 Jonas Carney (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis 3 Gord Fraser (Can) Health Net p/b Maxxis 4 David Mccook (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling 5 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 6 Chris Horner (USA) Webcor Builders 7 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 8 Peter Lopinto (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 9 Russell Hamby (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 10 Erik Saunders (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 11 Mark Mccormack (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 12 Glen Mitchell (NZl) Sierra Nevada Cycling 13 Jackson Stewart (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 14 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 15 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 16 Jason Waddell (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Brothers Furniture 17 Imanol Ayestaran (Spa) Webcor Builders 18 Jacob Erker (Can) Team Seasilver 19 Matt Dubberley (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 20 Adam Myerson (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Brothers Furniture 21 Emile Abraham (USA) Team Monex 22 John Murphy (USA) Jittery Joe's 23 Vassili Davidenko (Rus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 24 David Richter (USA) Subway express 25 Jason Bausch (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 26 Cameron Hughes (Aus) Subway express 27 Chad Hartley (USA) Jittery Joe's 28 Brice Jones (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis 29 Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil 30 Rob Kampanilla (USA) Team Monex 31 Neil Shirley (USA) Team Seasilver 32 Michael Kehrberg (USA) Subway express 33 Henk Vogels (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 34 Jonny Sundt (USA) Jittery Joe's 35 Andrew Crater (USA) Team Monex 36 Evan Elken (USA) Jittery Joe's 37 Matthew Svatek (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Brothers Furniture 38 Jaun Haedo (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil 39 Clark Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 40 David Wenger (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Brothers Furniture 41 Todd Herriott (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 42 Charles Dionne (Can) Webcor Builders 43 James Mattis (USA) Webcor Builders 44 Thad Dulin (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 45 Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 46 Michael House (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Brothers Furniture 47 Tim Larkin (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 48 Mariano Friedick (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 49 Jon Erdelyi (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 50 Tyler Wren (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 51 Aaron Olson (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 52 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Colavita Olive Oil 53 Sebastian Alexandre (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil 54 Chris Wherry (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis 55 Jason Mccartney (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis 56 Chris Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 57 Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 58 Nathaniel Cornelius (USA) Subway express 59 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 60 Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 61 Scott Swizanski (USA) Ofoto-Lombardi Sports 62 Gregg Medinilla (USA) Team Monex 63 Ben Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 64 Paul Ellis (USA) Jelly Belly p/b Aramark 65 Patrick Dunaway (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling 66 Siro Camponogara (Ita) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team 67 Robbie Ventura (USA) US Postal Service p/b Berry Floor 68 Devon Vigus (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling