Univest Grand Prix - 1.2
Souderton, Pennsylvania, USA, September 8, 2007
Live commentary by Kirsten Robbins and Steve Medcroft
Welcome to Cyclingnews live coverage
of the Univest Grand Prix. Formerly an exclusively amateur-only one-day race
for eight years, the Univest Grand Prix is in its second year as a difficult
and testing race for UCI professional teams. One of the goals of the race is
to offer a stage for the top North American teams to race with invited European
squads and this year's race will continue that goal.
The format of
Saturday's road race is similar to those one-day races found in Europe, such
as the Belgian kermesses. The main circuit is a challenging 109 km loop starting
and finishing in Souderton, Pennsylvania and rolling through the unrelenting
hillsides of eastern Pennsylvania. Three sprint lines come in the first 40 kilometres
and three KOM rated climbs before the race returns to Souderton for 13 finishing
circuits of five kilometres each. Sunday features a 89 km circuit race in nearby
Tune in at 10:30am EST (US) Saturday for complete live
coverage of the action.
The riders just rolled away from the
start line In Souderton to start the 2007 Univest Grand Prix.
A break of fourteen riders away gets
a quick jump on the field but it's too early and the peloton sweeps them back
Cyclingnews ace reporter Kirsten Robbins
is in the caravan today and calling the action. Kirsten caught up with a handful
of riders at the start of the race.
She said that Argentinian sprinter
Alejandro Barrajo (Rite Aid) says he has been training all week on the Univest
circuit and feels that he can do well today. This will be the last US race for
the rider who has placed in the top ten in the Giro D'Italia and is a course
that suits his strengths.
10:48 EDT 10.4km/161.6km to go
There is now a
breakaway of eight riders. There is one kilometer to the sprint.
The Univest GP course is a hilly 170
kilometers. After the race runs out around Souderton, Pennsylvania for a long
loop on steeply rolling terrain, the course finishes with 13 laps of a 5km circuit.
Which is also hilly! The race finishes with a screaming downhill run followed
by a 200-meter uphill sprint to the finish line.
Most year's, a
breakaway leads the race into the finishing circuits.
Johnny Sundt (Kelly Benefits Strategies)
took the first sprint. The break of eight are still away and have more than
a minute over the main field.
Ivan Stevic is in today's race, his
first after a two-month rehab of an injured knee. The Toyota-United star sprinter
is hanging toward the back of the group and shaking his leg occasionally.
Christian Lademann (Team Sparkesse
Germany) took the second sprint. In fact, the officials have corrected the results
of the first sprint and Lademann won the first sprint as well.
The breakaway is working well together
and have extended the lead to over three minutes. There are some dangerous riders
in the break and the pace of the peloton is high; Slipstream's Timmy Duggan
and Wil Frischkorn are there. As is Kyle Walmsley (Navigators) and Todd Yezefski
Our in-race reporter has updated the
situation. There are two chase groups between the eight-man break and the peloton.
In the breakaway is Johnny Sundt (Kelly Benefits Strategies), Phil Gaimon (Sakonenet
Technology), Todd Yezefski (Nerac), Timmy Duggan (Slipstream), Kyle Walmsley
(Navigators), Stefano Barbieri (Toyota-United), Bernado Colex (Tecos) and John
Fredy Parra (Tecos).
In the first chase group is Zoltan Mecseri (Nivo
Betonexpressz 2000), Eugene Barrow (Mengoni USA) and Brad Huff (Slipstream).
In the second chase is Scottie Weiss (AEG-Toshiba JetNetwork), Sebastian Frey
(Team Sparkesse) and Mattia Parravinci (Kio Ene-Tonazzo-DMT).
As has been their standard operating
procedure, Slipstream is mounting an aggressive offense by placing two riders
in the breakaway, one in the chase and having arguably their best overall rider
Danny Pate in the main group.
We talked to Lucas Euser of Slipstream
before a little insight into their approach. Euser thinks that based on history
and the course profile, the race could end up with a select final group of a
dozen of so riders. Euser feels that two or three of his teammates could make
that selection so they will keep moving riders into the moves looking for the
one that will finally stick. They seem to be hedging that bet by holding ace
card Danny Pate to attack out of the bunch if needed.
Lademann, a former track World Champion,
made the launch for the final sprint out on the open loop but was nipped at
the line by Kyle Walmsley.
The leaders are on a climb now and
the two Slipstream riders are taking a dig to separate themselves from the rest
of the break.
Behind them, we had the chase groups reversed. The
group containing Scottie Weiss was actually closest to the breakaway. And is
in fact close to catching the leaders.
The peloton is over six minutes down
now; a dangerous gap. The CRCA Empire team and Team Tecos are taking turns at
the front of the main group taking control of the chase.
The leaders are still together over
the top of the small climb.
Pete Lapinto (Kodakgallery Sierra
Nevada) has crashed.
Lapinto and Todd Yezevski were chasing
back onto the break after falling behind on the climb where Slipstream riders
Will Firschkorn and Timmy Duggan pressed the pace. Lapinto supposedly crashed
off the course into the woods. We'll try to get an update.
The peloton has reached the 30-mile
mark in the race (48 kilometers). there is still a lot fo racing to go but they
are going to need to pull back that 6:30 gap if they want to have control of
the race in the finishing circuits.
Todd Yezefski (Nerac) has obviously
regained the break because we just got word that he has attacked the break and
is off the front and on his own.
Pete Lopinto is back on his bike and
chasing the break as well so that's good news.
Correction - the report of Todd Yezefski
attacking the break wasn't accurate; he was chasing the break. Lopinto was with
him and the two are catching back onto the leaders now.
Back on another climb, the Slipstream
riders in the break are setting pace and keeping the pressure on.
A rider has crashed out of the chase
The rider was Francisco Matamoros
of the Tecos team. He took a knock to the head but he is back on his bike and
There is a lot of confusion in the
race right now. The two chase groups are 5:30 and 6:30 behind the leaders respectively.
Track racer Christian Lademann (Team Sparkesse) fell off the breakaway and is
in no-man's land at 3:00 behind the leaders. The peloton has fallen to over
The peloton had actually splintered into groups and,
it is reported, one of the groups went the wrong way at a turn and has had to
work doubly hard to retain their position on the road.
But it may
all be for nothing; with a gap that large, the race officials say they are going
to pull the peloton from the race once the leaders make it onto the finishing
circuits because they don't want the leaders to lap the peloton.
Things have settled as the race begins
to work towards the start of the 13, 5-kilometer finishing circuits. The seven-man
breakaway is continuing to work together and keep up their pace. The chase groups
have come together but are gaining no ground. The peloton seems to be out of
contention at this point; the gap is over eight minutes and they are not doing
anything to prevent themselves from being pulled by officials.
Off the back of a King of the Mountain
climb, the lead group has split. Will Firschkorn and Timmy Duggan of Slipstream
pushed the pace again are in that new lead group.
The peloton has been stopped by officials
and will not be able to contest the rest of the race as we get close to the
finishing circuits. There will a total of only 21 finishers officially.
The race is 16 kilometers from the
start of the finishing circuits.
Officials are saying that the decision
to stop the peloton before the race gets to the finishing loops is about safety.
Before deciding to stop the main group all together, one consideration was to
let the peloton sprint for the final placings and prize money on the first lap
of the finishing circuits then pull them from the race but with the gap as far
ahead as it was, there was too much of a possibility of the lead group getting
dangerously tied up with a sprinting peloton.
Phil Gaimon would seem to be the odd
man out in the four-man lead group but the young rider is pulling his weight
like a seasoned pro.
His team sponsor's website tells us that he's
just 21 years old and has only been racing since 2005! The Georgia native, who
makes his home in is a Category One amateur.
From his bio "Phil
is one of those wonderkin's you hear about who has instant success soon after
beginning in the sport. In 2005 Phil was a Cat 5 and by the end of 2006 he was
riding as a staginare on the VMG Professional Team. Phil is a lean and mean
time trialing machine who can climb and is a G.C threat in any multi-day event."
His 2006 palmares include 1st - Prologue Central Valley Classic (CAT 2), 1st
- Greenway Criterium (CAT 2), 8th Overall - Tour of Bahamas, 21st - Jacksonville
Criterium (NRC) and 41st - U.S. Pro National Time Trial Championships.
The leaders have just entered the
finishing circuits for the first time. The four leaders are still away. All
four riders are taking turns but the pace is settled now and less aggressive.
Part of the reason for temperance at this point in the race is the heat; combined
with energy-sapping humidity, temperatures are climbing into the nineties (Fahrenheit).
The leaders are through the start/finish
line. The sun is beaming down on the course.
Stefano Barbieri (Toyota-United) is
through at one minute back.
Kyle Walmsley is through the start/finish
line at about four minutes back.
Five minutes have passed since the
leaders went through the start/finish line and the chase group is just now rolling
The leaders are back through the start/finish
line and are dangerously close to catching the chase group.
13:28 EDT 113km/59km to go
The leaders have lapped
on group of rider (five-man strong). the lapped group allowed the leaders to
ride clear. Walmsley, Barbieri and Sundt are chasing in the gap between groups.
The chase group of eight is still working but not gaining on the leaders.
John Fredy Parra (Tecos) is requesting
service from his team and is dropping off the back of the lead group.
According to our race reporter, Para
pulled for the entire 12th lap and seems comfortable. He has to be the biggest
concern for the Slipstream riders and we can expect that Slipstream will try
to break one of their two riders free on a solo attack or bait Gaimon (who has
shown today that he is willing to be aggressive) into attacking.
The leaders are in the process of
lapping the chase group.
With nine laps to go, the four riders
are still cooperating.
The leaders have also lapped Johnny
Duggan just attacked. Para is right
on his wheel.
Frischkorn is sitting on Para; who
is struggling to get back to Duggan but managing.
The pressure is giving Gaimon fits
and he is falling off the pace.
Frischkorn attacks. The Tecos rider
is not taking this bait but sitting on Duggan's wheel instead.
Frischkorn has a fifteen second gap.
Para is trying to bridge but Frischkorn
is staying clear. They have seven laps to go.
13:58 EDT 130km/42km to go
Frischkorn is in a
time trial tuck and the other three riders from the lead group are sitting up.
Perfect tactical execution by Slipstream.
Frischkorn has a huge gap now. Para
is on the front and chasing. Gaimon is trying to help but keeping with the leaders
of the race has taken a lot out of him.
Duggan, of course, gets to ride wheels
and be ready to take over the lead just in case Para can pull Frischkorn back.
Frischkorn is through the start/finish
line with only six laps remaining.
Frischkorn's gap is 45 seconds. Para
is left to do all the work in the chase. Duggan is sitting on and since he is
a decent time trialist (he posted the fastest early time at the US Pro Championships
last weekend and posted a faster finishing time than even Tyler Hamilton and
Bobby Julich), he is a powerful weapon to have ready to fire if he is needed.
Once Frischkorn is clear for the win, Duggan may be in a great position to jump
to take second place and give his team both top steps on the podium.
14:13 EDT 147km/25km to go
Frischkorn has five
laps to go; 25 kilometers to hold on to his lead.
The gap is up to 1:47 as the three
chasers pass the start/finish line.
Para is still on the front of the
chase. Gaimon has ridden a respectable race but clearly does not have the form
of his breakmates.
The riders from the original peloton
are now mingled with the spectators and cheering on their favorite remaining
Still no change; Frischkorn is off
the front and clear by over two minutes, John Fredy Para is being forced to
do the work out of the three riders in the chase group and Phil Gaimon is depleted
and Timmy Duggan is sitting on.
Frischkorn just rode past the house
where the Slipstream team has been staying for the weekend. All of the Slipstream
riders that did not make it onto the finishing circuits are still in their kits
but out on the front lawn having a barbecue, a few drinks, and taking in the
14:30 EDT 157km/15km to go
Frischkorn is through
the start/finish line and, I believe, has three laps to go. According to Jonathan
Vaughters (speaking to the television crew), Duggan is free to go any time.
Duggan is almost coasting behind Para and Gaimon so he is definitely ready.
He may be waiting until closer to the finish so he does not pull Para back towards
Frishchkorn at all.
The gap to Frischkorn is 3:50. He
is a half lap ahead of the chasers. Para is still stuck on the front of the
chase; Gaimon is taking pulls as often as he can. Duggan is still sitting on.
Firschkorn is through the start/finish
line and has only two laps to go to win a most unusual 2007 Univest Grand Prix
(historically, a large peloton fights for placings on the finishing circuits.
This is the first time the race has finished with only a handful of riders).
The three chasers are working their
way through traffic; the course is littered with the other dozen or so riders
that made it onto the finishing loops.
Duggan attacks on a small incline.
He is driving away from Gaimon and
Para. Para tried to chase but Duggan jumped to a twenty-second gap in no time
14:44 EDT 167km/5km to go
Frischkorn is through
the start/finish line and is on his final lap.
Para is trying to
work back to Duggan and actually making ground. Gaimon is the victim of this
latest aggression and has lost grip on Para's wheel.
Para has caught onto Duggan and is
now sitting on his wheel. An amazing effort by the Columbian.
Duggan attacks again.
It seems that Para has saved more
in the tank that he has let on. He is persistent and not giving up.
Duggan and Para are together again;
both riders soft pedaling.
Duggan and Para went over the climb
on the back of the circuit together. Duggan attacked him again but Para was
able to stick right on his wheel. Both riders are looking strong and ready.
We may see a sprint showdown between the two.
14:52 EDT 171km/1km to go
Frishckorn is on final
approach to the finish. With a more than three minute gap, the win is assured
and he is driving to the finish.
Duggan attacks again but Para is
able to hold his wheel without even lifting himself off his saddle.
Frischkorn takes the tenth annual
Univest Grand Prix.
Duggan is leading Para into the finish.
The pace is slow; both riders trying to decide when to make the jump.
Para is behind. Duggan is staying
close to the right side of the road waiting for Para to pounce.
Para jumps and took second. Duggan
We're just waiting to see if Gaimon
was able to hold his position on the road and finish fourth.
Well, that wraps our live coverage
of the 2007 Univest Grand Prix. Thanks for stopping by. Tune in starting next
Tuesday and we bring you day-by-day coverage of America's latest major stage
race; the Tour of Missouri.