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USA Cycling Pro championships - CN

USA, September 1-3, 2006

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Race 2 - September 3: USA professional road race championships, 194.6 km

Complete live report

22:22 EDT   
Welcome to coverage of the USPRO road race championships from Greenville, South Carolina. Race coverage will begin just before the actual start of the race (scheduled for 12:30pm EST).

12:25 EDT   
Good morning. The USPRO championships road race will be starting in eight minutes. The front line of the race is being called up at this time. Defending champion Chris Wherry (Toyota United), Mark McCormack (Colavita), Scott Moninger (Health Net/Maxxis), Danny Pate (TIAA Cref), Levi Leipheimer (Goerelsteiner), David Zabriski (CSC), George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) all got the call up.

12:28 EDT   
The race will be run on a circuit on the roads around Greenville for a total distance of 194km. During each lap, the riders make an extended climb up Paris Mountain which should make this a race of attrition.

12:29 EDT   
There are 102 starters in the race.

12:30 EDT   
The race is underway beneath severely overcast skies, humid, muggy air and temperatures in the upper seventies.

12:32 EDT   
North American editor Mark Zaleswki and race photographer Jon Devich previewed the racecourse yesterday. They report that the climb in a leg-burner with a varying pitch including several sectoins of steep pitches.

USA Cycling Pro championships - CN, Greenville, SC, USA
road racecourse

Up the climb
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
A steep pitch
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
The KOM line
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
Descending
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
What a view
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

12:34 EDT    3km/191.6km to go
The pressure is immediately on as the field strings out with the early efforts.

12:39 EDT    6km/188.6km to go
A group of seven are attempting to get off the front. They have about 50 meters.

12:42 EDT    8km/186.6km to go
At this point in the race the terrain is semi-urban; completely flat. The riders will take a hard right turn at about 12 kilometers and immediately start climbing Paris Mountain. The climb is twisty and steep and approximately three kilometers long. The toughest part is the last few hundred meters which jump form the seven percent average at the bottom to over ten percent in places.

The seven have been absorbed and now a group of four are attempting to get away; with several other riders trying to bridge across.

12:43 EDT   
The riders climb approximately 1,000 feet per lap.

12:45 EDT    10km/184.6km to go
The group is five kilometers from teh King of the Mountain line at the top of Paris Mountain.

12:46 EDT    11.8km/182.8km to go
There are spectators in front of their houses watching the race go by. The group is all together at the base of the climb

12:48 EDT   
The group has made the right turn into the base of Paris Mountian. There are poeple standing beside the road at the bottom of the climb.

Mark Zalewski is riding in Mavic II - he wants to thank them for their support.

12:52 EDT    15km/179.6km to go
Tim Johnson (Health Net) has put on an attack about halfway up the climb.

12:53 EDT    16km/178.6km to go
Pace is being set behind by TIAA Cref and Toyota United team members with one kilometer to the KOM.

12:55 EDT    16km/178.6km to go
The crowds thicken toward the top of the climb; many waving American flags.

12:57 EDT    17km/177.6km to go
Johnson came back to the group and a TIAA Cref rider (Craig Lewis, a local rider) takes a flyer with 200 meters to got to the KOM.

12:59 EDT    18km/176.6km to go
Lucas Euser (TIAA Cref) took the KOM.

The field is essentially strung out on the very fist climb. Immediately following the climb, the riders negotiate a hairpin turn and descend as steeply as the ascended.

13:01 EDT    20km/174.6km to go
It appears that the field split into a lead group of approximately forty riders, leaving sixty riders trying to catch.

13:03 EDT    23km/171.6km to go
The major brand name Pro Tour riders - Zabriskie, Hincapie and Leipheimer - are all present.

13:04 EDT    24km/170.6km to go
The officials are saying that there are only fifteen riders in the lead group, not forty as previously reported. The gap has grown such that official vehicles have moved into the gap between groups - which usually means a gap of about a minute.

13:05 EDT    25km/169.6km to go
The leaders are moving at 45 to 50 miles per hour on the last section of the descent.

13:07 EDT   
The gap has been reported; 30 seconds. Hincapie is taking turns at the front to drive the advantage.

13:10 EDT    29km/165.6km to go
Chris Wherry, Justin England, Scott Moninger, George Hincapie, Neil Shirley, Leipheimer are all in the lead group. Zabriskie is not in the break. They currently have 24 seconds.

13:14 EDT    32km/162.6km to go
The gap is coming down. Only ten seconds now thorugh the flat section of the course.

13:14 EDT    34km/160.6km to go
The break held the ten second lead through the start/finish.

13:15 EDT    34km/160.6km to go
One rider (Phillip Gaimon, VMG Racing) has crashed in a turn but was able to get right back up on his bike.

13:16 EDT    36km/158.6km to go
Through the start/finish line, the group is all together.

13:17 EDT   
After the fifth lap, the riders will do three, three-kilometer finishing laps.

13:22 EDT    36km/158.6km to go
There has been a split at the back of the field with a two minute gap back to a group of maybe thirty riders. This proves that Paris Mountian will be very selective in this race. If the field loses a third of it's numbers every time up the climb, we'll be left with a small group by the last lap.

13:24 EDT    40km/154.6km to go
The main group is all together at the front. We asked Jason McCartney is he was going to try and go off the front on one of his patented suicide attackes but he said he's too fried from the season to try.

13:25 EDT   
We also talked to george Hincapie yesterday. He says he's been looking forward to the race. "I do Paris Mountain all the time, so it's my favourite. Going up for sure. I know it like it is my backyard, because it is my backyard."

13:26 EDT    41km/153.6km to go
The temperatures have risen to 85-degrees F.

13:32 EDT   
Speaking of Hincapie; the tall American Pro Tour rider went on a recon ride yesterday with other Pro Tour riders Dave Zabriskie (Team CSC) and Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) - showing them the course for Sunday's USPRO road championship.

Hincapie said that the ride was just a friendly pre-race ride and that there are not any formal plans to work together tomorrow, but he did acknowledge that tomorrow will be a tough for them. "We are definitely outnumbered but we all want the jersey so much," he said at a pre-race event in downtown Greenville. He also gave his preference for how tomorrow should go. "We haven't had our meeting yet, but hope that there isn't a big breakaway without me in it!"

13:33 EDT    44km/150.6km to go
there is a two rider break leading into the second time up Paris Mountian.

13:35 EDT    45km/149.6km to go
Approaching five-kilometers to the KOM, two-kilometers from the start of the climb, and the two riders were absorbed back into the group.

13:37 EDT   
The riders are at the base of the climb for the second time.

13:38 EDT   
Antonio Cruz (Toyota United) is setting pace. Zabriskie and Leipheimer are right behind him. As is Jason McCartney.

13:42 EDT   
The pack is single file up the climb.

13:42 EDT   
Here's some more information on the selection: 57 riders got the same time which means the filed was cut almost in half in one lap.

13:43 EDT    49km/145.6km to go
Zabriskie and Leipheimer are setting tempo at the front.

13:45 EDT    51km/143.6km to go
At one kilometer to the KOM, there are eight riders with a gap over the rest of the strung-out field.

13:48 EDT    51km/143.6km to go
Over the top of the climb its Werry, Baldwin, England, Swindlehurst, Zajicek, Hincapiue, Leipheimer in the front followed by a second group (Moninger, Jaques-Maynes, King, and Euser) at 20 seconds.

13:51 EDT   
It appears that Paris Mountain is too much for Dave Zabriskie. He lost contact with the lead group on the first climb. On the second, he positioned himself at the front of the field but once the leaders rolled over the top of the climb, he was no longer with them.

13:54 EDT   
The lead group of eight riders has thirty-five seconds on the chase on the descent.

13:56 EDT   
Chris Wheery, who is in the lead group with teammate Chris Baldwin, said yesterday "I think the game plan is survival -- it's a really difficult course. Definitely a race of attrition. I thought it might be a tactical race but you got Levi and George going up the climb fast one time and it will be a small group. And a small group could definitely ride to the finish.

Baldwin will probably be my wing man, he's obviously got good form. He will be there to help out the most."

It might drive him a little tomorrow -- I don't think he slept a whole lot last night, a bruised ego."

13:58 EDT    59km/135.6km to go
There are thirteen riders twenty-five seconds from the break. Navigators riders Zajicek and Swindlehurst are setting pace in the break.

14:03 EDT   
The gap is 30 seconds to the chase and 1:20 back to the full field. The lead includes the defending national champion (Wherry) with a teammate, as well as American Pro Tour brand-name riders George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer.

14:09 EDT    71km/123.6km to go
The leaders have made it through the start/finish line intact and head out for their third lap.

14:12 EDT    72km/122.6km to go
We still don't have any information about the riders in the four-man chase group but it has closed to ten seconds and contains at least one TIAA Cref rider (Danny Pate).

14:13 EDT   
The main group is now over two minutes down. If the two groups at the front come together, there will be twelve riders who can climb Paris Mountain well working together. The selection for the head of this race may have been made at this point.

14:16 EDT    75km/119.6km to go
The chase has caught the break. The pace has softened slightly as the leaders try to refuel on the lead-up to the third time over Paris Maountian.

14:16 EDT   
Riders who are just now making it through the start/finish line, five minutes after the leaders went through, are being pulled from the racecourse.

14:20 EDT   
The main group now consists of approximately 32 riders at 2:10 behind the leaders.

14:23 EDT    79km/115.6km to go
The first chase group, of four riders, were all members of the TIAA Cref team (Euser, Caldwell, Pate and Frischkorn). Navigators are setting the pace in the lead group.

14:24 EDT    80km/114.6km to go
The lead group has picked up all the riders that were stuck behind the chase but ahead of the main group and is now 22 riders strong. 32 riders are in the main group.

14:25 EDT    81km/113.6km to go
Leipheimer is on the radio and has a hand in the air. The Discovery car is coming up. He missed two feed handoffs so maybe he's looking for food and water.

14:27 EDT   
It's interesting that the Discovery car, which is driven by Viatcheslav Ekimov, is feeding Leipheimer. There is a rumour floating through the race caravan that Hincapie, Leipheimer and Zabriskie were all tuned to the same radio frequency. But as late as last night, Hincapie was still denying that the three would be working together in the race.

14:28 EDT   
There are still a handful of riders between the two groups, including Health Net's climber Scott Moninger - who just won the Tour of Utah stage race.

14:32 EDT    84km/110.6km to go
The leaders have made the turn onto the Paris Mountain climb for the third time.

14:33 EDT    84km/110.6km to go
Toyota United are setting the pace.

14:36 EDT    85.5km/109.1km to go
The lead group is sticking together with one kilometer to the KOM.

14:37 EDT    86km/108.6km to go
England and Stockburger are the Toyota United riders setting the pace. Chris Baldwin seems to have fallen off the back.

14:38 EDT    87km/107.6km to go
Andrew Badjadali (Jelly Belly) has moved to the front with 500 meters to the KOM

14:39 EDT   
Leipheimer has moved to the front.

14:41 EDT   
With the leaders cresting Paris Mountain, the main field still has one kilometer to go wchih means the lead may have extended to more than three minutes now.

14:41 EDT    88.5km/106.1km to go
Badjadali took the KOM.

14:47 EDT   
Seventeen riders made it over the climb together. According to the race announcers, the fastest rider made it up Paris Mountain in 9:09 on the first lap. The pace seemed more sensible on the third lap and the leaders climb was 9:47.

The main group is still holding at 2:15.

14:50 EDT   
Riders are attacking the lead group through the flatter section of the race. Nothing has stuck so far.

14:52 EDT    97km/97.6km to go
Zabriskie has abandoned the USA Cycling professional road race championship.

14:59 EDT    99km/95.6km to go
The race has blown up so much the officials have moved their radio communications cars ahead of the main group (usually one car stays back with the group and one stays up with the leaders - but they can only be so far apart for radion communications to work so...).

Moving the car up says they are no longer attending to the main group. Our reporter riding in the Mavic nuetral support car says the riders have been told they are still in the race. But there is a time cut of five minutes per lap so we may see the field get cut in half once more as the riders come through the start/finish.

15:01 EDT    101km/93.6km to go
The gap to the main group is over four minutes.

The leaders are one kilometer from the start/finish.

15:04 EDT   
The leaders are still working well together, in single file. The conventional wisdom now calls for them to set a brisk tempo the fourth time up Paris Mountain to shed any remaining dead weight then stay together to fight it out the final time up the climb. Whatever group sticks together then will have the three finishing circuits to go man-to-man for the championship.

We'll see if this group of riders will follow conventional wisdom of create a fresh havoc of their own.

15:05 EDT    107km/87.6km to go
Two riders are attempting to break away through the start/finish line. Will Frischkorn and Michael Creed of TIAA Cref.

15:06 EDT   
So there goes conventional wisdom right.

15:07 EDT    106.2km/88.4km to go
The two TIAA Cref riders have fifteen seconds.

15:09 EDT   
Michael Creed, who rode for the Discovery Channel team in 2005, looked supr strong in the Tour of Utah one month ago. In fact, he was so comfortable on one of the extended climbing days that he was able to freely move forward and backwards through the group to pick up and support his younger teammates when ordered to do so by Sport Director Jonathan Vaughters.

15:10 EDT   
The TIAA Cref move lets Danny Pate sit in the remains of the lead group and do no work on the fourth climb over Paris Mountain.

15:22 EDT    117km/77.6km to go
Five kilomters to the KOM for the two leaders. The gap is 50 seconds. they recieved water from nuetral support because the riders team cars have not been able to come up into the gap. Our reporter handed the two riders their bottles and says they didn't even bother to drink them; they pured them straight over their heads.

15:23 EDT    118.5km/76.1km to go
The gap is at one minute at the bottom of the climb. The TIAA Cref car has moved forward.

15:25 EDT   
Frischkorn is now by himself setting a steady tempo. Toyota United is setting tempo on the front of the lead group.

15:27 EDT    119km/75.6km to go
Navigators and Toyota United are setting pace in the lead chase group. Hincapie and Leipheimer are sitting in.

15:27 EDT    119.5km/75.1km to go
Creed has fallen all the way back to the chase group.

15:29 EDT   
The gap back to the main group is almost six minutes back at this point. the group containing Scott Moninger has drifted back and been absorbed as well. Which leaves a very select group on this fourth climb up Paris Mountain.

15:31 EDT    121km/73.6km to go
The gap to Frischkorn is coming down now; less than 20 seconds. The leaders are halfway up the climb.

15:32 EDT    121.3km/73.3km to go
Frischkorn is now in the group but still sitting on the front setting tempo. There is one kilometer remaining in the climb.

15:34 EDT    122km/72.6km to go
Badjadali took the KOM once again and the lead group is together over the top of the climb.

15:37 EDT   
Badjadali is leading the descent by ten seconds. Frank Pipp (Tragettraining.com) is next. The rest of the lead group is strung out behind them.

15:40 EDT   
According to the race announcers, the fourth climb was completed in 10:13 by the leaders. that's a full minute slower than the first time. It will be interesting to see how fast they take the last lap.

15:41 EDT    128km/66.6km to go
Eight riders are together off the front now and moving fast.

15:43 EDT   
race radio is reporting that the spread between the first and last rider on the road is 8:42.

15:48 EDT    135km/59.6km to go
Zajicek and Swindlehurst are setting tempo with Levi Leipheimer behind.

15:50 EDT    136km/58.6km to go
Ben Jaques-Maynes and Blake Caldwell have fallen of the pace of the lead group.

16:01 EDT    142km/52.6km to go
Nine riders remain in the lead group. Zajicek and Swindlehurst are the only remaining teammates as the race moves into it's final full-sized lap. Hincapie and Leipheimer are still there. Wherry is still there. Badjadali is still there. Blake Cadwell is also there.

16:05 EDT   
Leipheimer said yesterday that he believed the first rider over the final climb might be able to establish an advantage on the downhill and stay away. "I think because the descent is not fast and technical it will be easier to get away. You can jump away because you have to pedal it and nobody is going to want to pedal the downhill. Otherwise, if it's a fast downhill you can't really go faster than the next guy."

The leaders are five kilometers from the base of their final ascent of Paris Mountain.

16:06 EDT    145km/49.6km to go
Average speed of the race is 25.2mph at this stage of the race.

16:08 EDT    146km/48.6km to go
Leipheimer is back at the Discovery team car fetching a bottle to top off his fluids for the final climb.

16:10 EDT    147km/47.6km to go
I mis-spoke earlier about the make-up of the final group. Danny Pate has made the selection so now both Navigators and TIAA Cref have teammates in the lead group guys.

There are only thirty riders left in the race; a 70% attrition rate.

16:16 EDT   
The riders are almost to the base of Paris Mountian. Leipheimer is testing with a surge but the group is staying close.

16:20 EDT    155km/39.6km to go
Leipheimer is leading the group on the climb.

16:21 EDT    155.5km/39.1km to go
Leipheimer's pace is having a huge impact. Caldwell has dropped off the back. Badjadali is at the back.

16:22 EDT   
Jaques-Maynes was also dropped.

16:22 EDT   
Zajicek and Swindlehurst are trying to hold Leipheimer's wheel but Zajicek is struggling.

16:23 EDT    156km/38.6km to go
Danny Pate is sticking with Badjadali, dangling behind Leipheimer. Hincapie is right behind Leipheimer now.

16:24 EDT   
Leipheimer, Hincapie and Pate have about fifteen meeters on the Badjadali, Wherry group.

16:24 EDT   
Caldwell and Jaques-Maynes have fallen to oevr a minute behind.

16:25 EDT   
Hincapie has attacked with 600 meters to go to the KOM.

16:26 EDT    157.5km/37.1km to go
The four lead riders are over the KOM.

16:30 EDT   
Hincapie is on the descent and drilling the pace to keep his gap alive. Leipheimer is sitting on his group of Pate and Badjadali, leaving them to pull his future teammate back.

16:32 EDT    160km/34.6km to go
Badjadali and Leipheimer have caught on to Hincapie. Pate has been dropped.

16:33 EDT   
Badjadali is at such a disadvantage at this point; the two Pro Tour riders can take turns to wear him down and leave the sprint for the national championships for themselves.

16:35 EDT   
The front of the race is off the bottom of the climb and heading for the three final finishing circuits.

16:37 EDT   
Hincapie attacks and Leipheimer sits on Badjadali's wheel. Their tactics seem to answer the speculation of whether these two riders are colluding or not.

16:40 EDT    165km/29.6km to go
There are fourteen minutes between the front and the back of the race on the road.

Leipheimer and Hincapie are taking turns attacking Badjadali. Impressively, the Jelly Belly rider has been able to keep himself together and respond.

16:41 EDT   
Race radio has just reported that they are going to have the main group sprint this time through the start/finish for their final position in the race so the leaders can have an open course with no lapped traffic to fight for the jersey.

16:43 EDT   
The final circuits are approximately 6.5km per lap.

16:45 EDT   
Badjadali is sticking with the two Pro Tour riders still as the gap to the three chasers grows to 25 seconds.

16:48 EDT   
A light rain is starting to fall over the racecourse. There are several technical turns in the final circuits and Hincapie has been taking aggressive lines. He'll have to be a little more careful to keep the rubber side down.

16:51 EDT    173.6km/21km to go
Things are still the same as the rain builds, making the roads dangerous for the final 20km.

16:55 EDT    174.6km/20km to go
The leaders are through the start/finish line and get a gthree-laps-to-go card.

The next six chasers will also see three-to-go. The main group, which only contains something like fifteen riders, will be scored on their place across the line this first time and pulled from the racecourse.

Which means only approximately 25 riders of 102 will officially finish. That's a 75% attrition rate. Since the cash payout for this race is 25 riders deep, there are just enought racers left so that all the prize checks get used.

16:57 EDT    175.6km/19km to go
Hincapie and Leipheimer seem to be taking a break from trying to shake Badjadali. They may be waiting to have another crack at him in the final lap.

16:57 EDT   
And no sooner do I say that than Hincapie takes a flyer and has established a small gap.

16:59 EDT    176.6km/18km to go
Badjadali is burying himself to try and make contact.

17:02 EDT    180.6km/14km to go
The leaders are through the start/finish and heading out for their second of the final three laps. Hincapie is still off on his own. Leipheimer is now chasing at 20 seconds. Badjadali has now fallen back to the chase group.

17:02 EDT    181.6km/13km to go
The rain has stopped but the roads are still wet.

17:04 EDT    184.6km/10km to go
George is three-kilometers from starting his final lap. He still has a lead. He can see Leipheimer at a turn he is on.

17:05 EDT   
Hincapie is seated and driving.

17:06 EDT    186.1km/8.5km to go
Hincapie keeps checking over his shoulder but his lead is holding. Leipheimer is also seated and driving himself.

17:06 EDT    187.1km/7.5km to go
Leipheimer is gainig ground, only five seonds behind now.

17:07 EDT    187.6km/7km to go
Hincapie and Leipheimer are together at the start/finish line.

17:07 EDT    188.1km/6.5km to go
Leipheimer looks over at Hincapie and says something then goes to the front.

17:08 EDT   
Both riders are in the drops of their handelbars. Hincapie pulls through.

17:11 EDT    189.1km/5.5km to go
The two leaders are on the final lap. Badjadali came through the start/finish line alone. Pate was chasing. The main group has completed their sprint and are now clear of the course.

17:12 EDT    191.1km/3.5km to go
Hincapie and Leipheimer are still trading the lead. they are into the feed zone, about three kilometers from the finish.

17:13 EDT    191.6km/3km to go
Hincpaie takes a pull with his hands draped over the bars in time trial mode. The two riders are shifting around on the road, tryig to find the dry patches.

17:13 EDT   
Badjadali is still holding third on the road.

17:14 EDT    192.1km/2.5km to go
Hincpaie and Leipheimer are side by side and talking. About what, we could only guess. When to sprint maybe?

17:14 EDT    192.6km/2km to go
Whether to sprint at all.

17:15 EDT    193.1km/1.5km to go
Badjadali was caught by Danny Pate. Pate immediately attacked and is now third on the road.

17:16 EDT    193.6km/1km to go
Hincapie has attacked.

17:16 EDT    194.1km/0.5km to go
Leipheimer is out of the saddle but Hincapie is gooone

17:16 EDT   
Hincapie is looking over his shoulder but be has a ten second gap.

17:17 EDT   
Hincapie is the new USA Cycling professional national road race champion. He is smiling as he zipes up his jersey, kisses his wedding ring, puts his hands in the air and crosses the line.

Leipheimer follows.

17:18 EDT   
Swindlehurst and Pate sprinted for third. Pate takes it.

17:23 EDT   
Wow. What a race. It was predicted that the 1,000 foot climb up Paris Mountain, which riders had to do five times, would be selective and with 75% of the riders not finishing and arguably the strongest American all-around racer winning the Stars and Stripes jersey for the third time in his career, it appears the predictions were correct.

That's it for our live coverage. Thank you for tuning in. Check back on www.cyclingnews.com later for full photos, complete results and a race report from Greenville.

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