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USA, June 1-6, 2004
Wachovia USPRO Championship - June 6: Philadelphia, PA, 14.4 mile circuit, 156 miles/250 km
Neo-pro Ventoso rings the Liberty Bell in Philly
Fast Freddy takes the jersey once again
By Mark Zalewski in Philadelphia, PA
On a cloudy and cool day in Philadelphia, a new pro to the European peloton outsprinted the rest to take the biggest win of his young career. Francisco Ventoso Alberdi (Prodir-Saunier Duval) beat sprinters Antonio Bucciero, Gord Fraser and Fred Rodriguez in the 20th Wachovia USPRO Road Championships. "This is the biggest victory for me ever," Ventoso admitted. "I'm a first year professional - I'm beyond happy!"
Behind him in fourth place, American Fred Rodriguez (Acqua e Sapone) claimed is third USPRO Championship, being the highest placed American in a Euro-stacked top ten. Only Kirk O'Bee (Navigators) and Russell Hamby (Sierra Nevada) managed to crack the top ten, ninth and tenth respectively.
Even though American Tim Johnson, Ventoso's teammate, made it into an early break, he assured all that this was just as good. "It turned out to be a perfect day for us, obviously! We had two of us in the breakaway, with Gomez. And then we knew we had the sprinter also. It was a great day and tactics worked out too. Either way, we were going to have a great day."
How it unfolded
Right from the gun, on the first lap, a group of 26 made a go of it - and the peloton let them have their fun, knowing that a break hardly has a chance to survive ten times up the Manayunk Wall.
Also helping matters was the fact that just about every big team was represented, with only Saeco not making the large move. Health Net had three riders in Pate, Sayers and Moninger, US Postal had two in McCarty and Creed, and Webcor and Jelly Belly also had two. American Tim Johnson and his Prodir-Suanier-Duval teammate Angel Gomez also made the break.
The group worked well together, increasing its lead quickly, up to a maximum of more than nine minutes. Monex rider Emile Abraham had a flat and couldn't catch back on, and Sierra-Nevada's Trent Klasna had a difficult time keeping contact on the Wall, eventually sitting up and waiting for the peloton.
Health Net's Danny Pate had a definite strategy for the Manayunk Wall. Lap after lap, Pate would drift to the rear of the break, taking the steep climb at his own speed. Then, using expert descending skills, he would make his way back to the pack through the following caravan, usually catching by the bottom of the descent.
Jelly Belly's Doug Ollerenshaw had an easy strategy for the Wall and Lemon Hill, get to the top first. "[Going for the KOM] was the strategy all day," a tired Ollerenshaw explained. "Paul Ellis, myself and Ernie Lechuga were hoping to get in the early break. Ernie and I ended up there and I went for it."
But towards the end the legs had a hard time turning over and Lechuga went to the front on Lemon Hill. "I was starting to come apart at that point. [Lechuga] saw that and went up there to snatch as many points as he could to keep guys from coming over the top of me." One reason could explain Ollerenshaw's fatigue... "That is the farthest I have ever raced my bike!"
Once the break neared a double digit time gap, Bobby Julich's CSC team rode to the front and turned on the gas. Soon the peloton began chipping away at the break's lead. Down to under four minutes, the break realized that it was just a matter of time. Originally, the break descended (or fell off) the wall at near 50 mph. Later, that speed dwindled to just 28 mph. It was clear that a field sprint looked to be on tap. The only attempt (that got away from CSC) to bridge up to the break was Action/ATI's Dennis Kraft, but he only managed 15 seconds.
After 123.5 miles in the legs, the field finally reeled in the 23 remaining riders, and the reduced peloton kept the pace high, with US Postal helping five CSC riders at the front of the field. The effects of driving the pace at such a high speed could be seen in the shrinking size of the field. Subway/Express' Todd Cornelius gave a good account of the speeds. "Coming down on Kelly Drive, CSC was going 38 mph, and I was like, 'OK, we'll go 38!'"
Soon after the break was caught, another large group rode off the front, once again including Tim Johnson and several Prodir teammates, and American Bobby Julich. However, this move was caught at the base of the final ascent up the Wall - with the large amount of spectators well lubricated by this point!
This time is was Chris Horner's turn, as he led the field over the top of the Wall. Joining the Webcor rider was Fast Freddy himself, along with Kirk O'Bee (Navigators) and Michael Barry (US Postal). Horner continued to lead the break as the others looked around to assess the situation. "I knew I was one of the strongest guys in the field, and I had to cover the move," Rodriguez explained. "After missing the early break, I knew my team depended on it. I spent a little energy there, but I didn't dig too deep because Horner was driving it - it was in his best interest to drive and try to re-counter us there. That's where it always breaks apart and I had to be a player."
When Horner finally swung off, none of the other three were willing to work. Horner moved to the front again, but when he was done, so was the break. Rodriguez had the help of two teammates to keep his position at the front, as the peloton (or whatever you call the thirty-odd riders remaining at the front) moved on to the finishing circuits.
With Prodir-Suanier-Duval driving the field Chris Horner attacked again. Possibly a bit early, as two more climbs of Lemon Hill remained, but the field wasn't going to sit still. Three riders, Eric Wohlberg, Jonathan Page and Siro Camponogara launched a chase with Health Net rider Brice Jones in tow. The group caught up to Horner, making it five.
CSC again put the hammer down and brought the five back into the fold. It was to be a field sprint, and that was that. Saeco didn't make the early move, nor any of the other moves, and they weren't about to go home without at least a little TV time. Juan Fuentes gave it a go the final time up Lemon Hill, gaining about seven seconds on the field. Down the descent, the fast moving pack still had field sprint on the mind, and Fuentes was swallowed up and spat out the back.
The easily recognizable Prodir yellow massed at the front, with the Navigators also moving up on the inside. Around Logan Circle for the final time, the pack was curb-to-curb. Down to the line, Prodir kept the middle of the field yellow, delivering first-year pro and team sprinter Jose Ventoso to the line first. "The team led me to the sprint, so I could win," Ventoso said. "They led me all week!"
With his arms in the air, everyone knew Ventoso had won - but the race for the stars and stripes was too close to call. The announcers thought maybe Danny Pate, but going to the photo-finish, it was Fast Freddy again!
Third-place Gord Fraser, frustrated with always being a bridesmaid this week, ran down the sprint. "First of all, it was a pretty good fight for Fred's wheel. I let van Heeswijk have it. Then for some reason, [van Heeswijk] dropped his chain or something, and I had to close the gap to Fred. I was boxed in then - completely enclosed. I wasn't even sprinting. I was just waiting for a hole, and it wouldn't come. I'm sitting there, sitting pretty and just couldn't move. Then a hole opened up with ten meters to go and I made up a couple of guys there. It was frustrating, I just couldn't unleash the sprint."
Rodriguez admitted it is getting harder to win in Philly because fewer riders are having as much difficulty with the course, some of which wish was made harder. "[The competition] is always getting better and better. Being cold allowed for a lot of guys to finish. It makes it harder for me to win. I thought I had it in the finish, but I got...blocked." And even though Rodriguez gets to be Captain America in the European peloton for the next year, placement on the Olympic team is no longer assured with this honour. With a new selection process, riders must race the Olympic trials race in California later this summer.
Regardless of anything else, one thing is clear: a new pro has quickly made his mark, and he is certainly happy about it.
Images by Jon Devich/www.epicimages.us
Images by Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews.com
Images by Dennis Smith/www.densphoto.com
Men 1 Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Spa) Prodir Saunier Duval 5.53.13 2 Antonio Bucciero (Ita) Team Saeco 3 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net presented by Maxxis 4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo 5 Plamen Stoyanov (Bul) Hoop CCC - Polsat 6 Alberto Loddo (Ita) Prodir Saunier Duval 7 Piotr Chmielewski (Pol) Action ATI 8 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 9 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Insurance 10 Russell Hamby (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 11 Arkadiusz Wojtas (Pol) Hoop CCC - Polsat 12 Mark McCormack (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 13 Ben Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly / Aramark 14 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark 15 Brice Jones (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 16 Radoslaw Romanik (Pol) Hoop CCC - Polsat 17 Chris Wherry (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 18 Kazimierz Stafiej (Pol) Action ATI 19 Dennis Kraft (Ger) Action ATI 20 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Sierra Nevada Cycling 21 Erik Saunders (USA) Ofoto 22 Chris Horner (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 23 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 24 Henk Vogels (Aus) Navigators Insurance 25 Jonathan Page (USA) Hoop CCC - Polsat 26 Charles Dionne (Can) Webcor Cycling Team 27 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 28 Max Van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 29 Damon Kluck (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 30 Brian Sheedy (USA) Team Seasilver 31 William Frischkorn (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 32 Tim Larkin (USA) Ofoto 33 Steven Cate (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. 34 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 35 Dominique Perras (Can) Ofoto 36 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo 37 Manuele Mori (Ita) Prodir Saunier Duval 38 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Insurance 39 Jakob Piil (Den) Team CSC 40 Jason Bausch (USA) Ofoto 41 Vikor Rapinski (Blr) Navigators Insurance 42 Tristen Hoffman (Ned) Team CSC 43 Ruggero Marzoli (Ita) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo 44 Rinaldo Nocentini (Ita) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo 45 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance 0.07 46 Adam Bergman (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark 47 David Mc Kenzie (Aus) Navigators Insurance 48 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Prodir Saunier Duval 0.11 49 Aaron Olson (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 0.14 50 Juan Fuentes Angullo (Spa) Team Saeco 51 Davide Frattini (Ita) Team Monex 0.28 52 John Lieswyn (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 53 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 54 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance 0.35 55 Jason Mccartney (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 0.46 56 Caleb Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly / Aramark 57 David Loosli (Swi) Team Saeco 58 Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Insurance 1.24 59 Vassili Davidenko (Rus) Navigators Insurance 5.36 60 James Mattis (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 61 Michael Creed (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 62 Glen Mitchell (NZl) Sierra Nevada Cycling 63 Neil Shirley (USA) Team Seasilver 64 Jonathan Erdelyi (USA) Ofoto 65 John Hygelund (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 66 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil 67 Scottie Weiss (USA) Subway Express 68 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 69 Cameron Hughes (Aus) Subway Express 70 Imanol Ayestaran Odriozola (Spa) Webcor Cycling Team 71 Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark 72 Tim Johnson (USA) Prodir Saunier Duval 73 Kyle Gritters (USA) Team Monex 74 Joroslaw Zarebski (Pol) Hoop CCC - Polsat 75 Jonathan Patrick McCarty (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor 76 David Wenger (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. 77 Frank Hoj (Den) Team CSC 78 Jimmi Madsen (Den) Team CSC 79 Peter Knudsen (USA) Team Seasilver 80 Angel Gomez (Spa) Prodir Saunier Duval 81 Adam Wadecki (Pol) Action ATI 82 Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark 83 Juan Gomis Lopez (Spa) Prodir Saunier Duval 84 Cesar Grajales Calle (Col) Jittery Joe's Coffee 85 Jesse Lawler (USA) Jittery Joe's Coffee 86 Seweryn Kohut (Pol) Hoop CCC - Polsat 87 Ernesto Lechuga (Mex) Jelly Belly / Aramark 88 Thad Dulin (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 89 Jacob Erker (Can) Team Seasilver 90 Adam Livingston (USA) Team Seasilver 91 Jackson Stewart (USA) Ofoto 92 Scott Moninger (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 93 Andy Bajadali (USA) Ofoto 94 Michael Jones (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 95 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Colavita Olive Oil 96 Giosu Bonomi (Ita) Team Saeco 97 Gordon Mccauley (NZl) Team Monex 98 Alessandro Donati (Ita) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo 99 Roman Kilun (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling 9.00 100 Todd Herriott (USA) Colavita Olive Oil 101 Justin England (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 102 Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Navigators Insurance 103 John Kelly (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 104 Jacob Rosenbarger (USA) Jittery Joe's Coffee 105 Michael Kehrberg (USA) Subway Express 106 Matt Dubberley (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling 107 Karl Bordine (USA) Team Monex 108 Steve Larsen (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 109 Benjamin Haldeman (USA) Webcor Cycling Team 110 Michael Lange (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. 111 Mike Taylor (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling 112 Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil 113 David Richter (USA) Subway Express DNF Emil Abraham (Tri) Team Monex DNF Gabriele Balducci (Ita) Team Saeco DNF Colin Beardsley (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling DNF Denis Bertolini (Ita) Acqua y Sapone - Caffe Modambo DNF Nieko Biskner (USA) Ofoto DNF Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den) Team CSC DNF Jonas Carney (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark DNF Patrick Carro (USA) Team Monex DNF Mirko Celestino (Ita) Team Saeco DNF Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Spa) Prodir Saunier Duval DNF Nathaniel Cornelius (USA) Subway Express DNF Tracy Cundiff (USA) Sportsbook.com DNF Jamiel Danesh (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling DNF Drew Deters (USA) Team Seasilver DNF Patrick Dunaway (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling DNF Paul Ellis (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark DNF Dario Falquier (USA) Webcor Cycling Team DNF Chris Foster (USA) Subway Express DNF Christian Foster (USA) Subway Express DNF Matthew Gilbert (NZl) Team Monex DNF Josh Goodwin (USA) Team Monex DNF Chad Hartley (USA) Jittery Joe's Coffee DNF Greg Henderson (NZl) Health Net presented by Maxxis DNF Mike Herdman (USA) Team Monex DNF Mike House (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Omer Kem (USA) Subway Express DNF Nicklaus Kiernan (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Trent Klasna (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling DNF Jason Klikna (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling DNF Aleksandra Klimenko (Ukr) Action ATI DNF Peter Lopinto (USA) Ofoto DNF David Mccook (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling DNF Remi Mcmanus (USA) Subway Express DNF Adam Myerson (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Nathan O'neill (Aus) Colavita Olive Oil DNF Danny Pate (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis DNF Lawrence Perera (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Christopher Pic (USA) Jittery Joe's Coffee DNF Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly / Aramark DNF Matthew Sadauckas (USA) Team Seasilver DNF Mike Sayers (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis DNF Aaron Smathers (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Ben Stafford (USA) Webcor Cycling Team DNF Jonathan Sundt (USA) Jittery Joe's Coffee DNF Robbie Ventura (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor DNF Devon Vigus (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling DNF Eugen Wacker (Kgz) Action ATI DNF Jason Waddell (USA) Sharper Image-Mathis Bros. DNF Nichole Wangsgard (USA) Basis Aude DNF Troy White (USA) Sierra Nevada Cycling DNF Tyler Wren (USA) Colavita Olive Oil DNF Robert Yost (USA) Subway Express DNF David Zabriskie (USA) US Postal Service presented by Berry Floor USPRO Champion: Fred Rodriguez (USA) Acqua & Sapone King of the Moutnains: Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Jelly Belly-Aramark