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US Elite Championships & Olympic trials - NE
Redlands, CA, USA, June 16-19, 2004
Race 2 - June 16: Elite Men RR, 158km
Walker claims men's elite road title
By USA Cycling
Redlands, Calif. (June 16, 2004)--Elite-level cycling returned to Redlands, Calif. on Wednesday as the PoolGel USCF Elite Men's National Championships highlighted the day's competition that also included a junior race that will be utilized in the selection of the team that will represent the U.S. at the UCI Junior Road World Championships later this year.
As a lead-in to Thursday's time trial event and Saturday's road race that will result in three nominations to the 2004 U.S. Olympic team, today's elite men's national championship gave onlookers a first-hand look at the difficult and challenging terrain that will help to select a trio of worthy Olympic athletes. Chris Walker (Goleta, Calif.), a 42-year-old veteran rider for the Labor Power squad, claimed the elite men's title today by attacking his two breakaway companions in the closing kilometer of the 157 km race.
After a 7km neutral start loop, the field of 127 riders set out for 10 laps of a 15km loop that featured a 2km ascent to Panorama Point on each lap. The stretch of road that topped out with a 20% grade, along with several other short climbs throughout the loop quickly separated the field as a break of five established itself early in the race. Evan Elken (Portland, Ore.), John Osguthorpe (Salt Lake City, Ore.), John Hunt (Fairfax, Calif.), Chris Peck (Southbury, Conn.), and Steve Tilford (Topeka, Kan.) distanced themselves from the remainder of the field and eventually increased their advantage to over a minute. Behind, a chase group of Curt Davis (Sandy Hook, Conn.), Michael Hutchinson (Napa, Calif.) and Walker bridged up to the leaders with six laps remaining. With an advantage of 1:30, the selective course continued to take its toll on the field as the main peloton splintered into several groups and riders in the break began to fall off the pace.
From one of those groups behind, William Innes (Menlo Park, Calif.) managed to make his way across to the leaders and with three laps remaining, Innes, Walker and Elken would emerge as the winning move. With two laps remaining, what was left of the field was over four minutes off the pace as the leaders worked together to increase their advantage. In between, a couple of chasers lingered one minute behind but would not threaten the leaders.
As the race wound down to the closing kilometers, a series of attacks began as Elken was the first to try his hand at opening up a gap. Walker fired next with 3km to go, followed by another effort from Elkin as Innes looked content to let it boil down to a sprint. As the race neared the finish line inside of one kilometer to go, Walker tried one final attack. As Elken looked for Innes to respond, Walker continued to roll on towards the finish line claiming his national championship in solo fashion.
In the ensuing sprint, a fresher Innes easily took the sprint from Elken who spent himself in the final few attacks. "I knew that guy (Innes) had a big sprint so if I would have pulled him up after Walker attacked, then he would have won, it was the only thing I could have done."
"I can't sprint," Walker admitted after the race explaining his eleventh hour tactic. "I just took off with about 1km to go and they sort of just looked at each other and that was it."
Racing continues and the stakes increase on Thursday with the USCF Elite Men's and Women's time trial events. The winner of each is crowned USCF National Time Trial Champion, but the winner of the women's race also earns a spot on the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team.
Images by Jason Elhardt/www.jasonelhardt.com
1 Chris Walker (Labor Power) 4.21.10 2 William Innes (GS Lombardi Sports) 0.02 3 Evan Elken (Broadmark Capital) 0.03 4 Jon Hamblen (Fiordifrutta) 3.46 5 John Hunt (Village Peddler) 6 Mike Dietrich (Fiordifrutta) 4.54 7 John Osguthorpe (Ogden One) 5.29 8 Ian Dille (Team Snow Valley) 9 Bryan Smith (Endeavour Cycling Team) 5.30 10 Tim Carolan (Landis/Trek/VW) 11 Frank Dierking (ABD Cycling Team) 6.38 12 Rusty Beall (Ridge Mortgage Services) 7.23 13 Marc Collard (The Red Edge Cycling Team) 8.29 14 Frank Pipp (Endeavour Cycling Team) 10.42 15 Michael White (NCVC) 10.59 16 Bartek Fidelus (Team Ranchos) 12.19 17 Jeremiah Wiscovitch (LaGrange) 12.37 18 Michael Norton (Ideal Tile Brielle Cyclery - YS) 19 Aron Norman (Owens Healthcare) 20 Zach Martin (Mercy) 21 Marc Yap (GlobalPhoneSales - Healthy Choi) 12.38 22 Josh Horowitz (LaGrange) 23 Rob Alvarez (LaGrange) 24 Walter Tate (UNATTACHED) 25 Garrett Peltonen (Endeavour Cycling Team) 26 Ben Raby (ABD Cycling Team) 19.18 27 Christopher Herby (Outdoorlights.com) 28 Robbie King (Louis Garneau Racing) 22.11 29 Bruce Muhlfeld (Trek/VW) 23.54 One lap behind 30 Timothy Gernitis (Village Peddler) 5.00.01 31 Chris Schmidt (NCVC Edge Technologies) 5.00.02 32 Chad Cagle (Mercy) 5.00.03 33 Zachary Zimmerman (Bike Doctor/Cannondale) 5.00.04 34 Reed Tanger (Evolution Cycling) 5.00.05 35 Peter Knoop (Memphis Motorwerks) 5.00.06 36 Andy Applegate (Cane Creek) 5.05.01 37 Christopher Gottwald (Ford/Giant) 5.05.02 38 David Reid (Landis/Trek/VW) 5.05.03 39 Christopher Zukowski (Redlands) 5.05.04 40 Allan Butler (GlobalPhoneSales - Healthy Choi) 5.05.05 41 Chris Frederick (Aerospace Engineering) 5.10.02 42 Robert Newman (Labor Power) 5.10.03 43 Ben Early (Bianchi/Hincapie Sports) 5.10.04 Miltary men 1 Peter Penzell (US Armed Forces) 4.33.48 2 Steve Mlujeak (US Armed Forces) 6.41 3 Matt Lorenz (US Armed Forces) 36.13 4 Sean Cahill (US Armed Forces) 36.17 5 Eric Obergfell (US Armed Forces) 36.18