Recently on Cyclingnews.com

Mt Hood Classic
Photo ©: Swift

Univest Grand Prix - 1.2

Souderton, Pennsylvania, USA, September 8, 2007

Live commentary by Kirsten Robbins and Steve Medcroft

13:39 EDT   
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 Doylestown.

Tune in at 10:30am EST (US) Saturday for complete live coverage of the action.

10:33 EDT   
The riders just rolled away from the start line In Souderton to start the 2007 Univest Grand Prix.

10:38 EDT   
A break of fourteen riders away gets a quick jump on the field but it's too early and the peloton sweeps them back up.

10:46 EDT   
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.

10:52 EDT   
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.

11:02 EDT   
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.

11:05 EDT   
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.

11:07 EDT   
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.

11:10 EDT   
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 (Nerac).

11:19 EDT   
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).

11:21 EDT   
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.

11:25 EDT   
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.

11:28 EDT   
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.

11:35 EDT   
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.

11:37 EDT   
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.

11:38 EDT   
The leaders are still together over the top of the small climb.

11:42 EDT   
Pete Lapinto (Kodakgallery Sierra Nevada) has crashed.

11:44 EDT   
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.

11:50 EDT   
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.

11:50 EDT   
Pete Lopinto is back on his bike and chasing the break as well so that's good news.

11:53 EDT   
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.

11:55 EDT   
Back on another climb, the Slipstream riders in the break are setting pace and keeping the pressure on.

12:12 EDT   
A rider has crashed out of the chase group.

12:13 EDT   
The rider was Francisco Matamoros of the Tecos team. He took a knock to the head but he is back on his bike and chasing.

12:23 EDT   
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 seven minutes.

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.

12:44 EDT   
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.

12:53 EDT   
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.

12:54 EDT   
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.

12:57 EDT   
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.

13:05 EDT   
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.

13:09 EDT   
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).

13:11 EDT   
The leaders are through the start/finish line. The sun is beaming down on the course.

13:12 EDT   
Stefano Barbieri (Toyota-United) is through at one minute back.

13:15 EDT   
Kyle Walmsley is through the start/finish line at about four minutes back.

13:17 EDT   
Five minutes have passed since the leaders went through the start/finish line and the chase group is just now rolling through.

13:19 EDT   
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.

13:31 EDT   
John Fredy Parra (Tecos) is requesting service from his team and is dropping off the back of the lead group.

13:33 EDT   
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.

13:35 EDT   
The leaders are in the process of lapping the chase group.

13:41 EDT   
With nine laps to go, the four riders are still cooperating.

13:51 EDT   
The leaders have also lapped Johnny Sundt.

13:55 EDT   
Duggan just attacked. Para is right on his wheel.

13:55 EDT   
Frischkorn is sitting on Para; who is struggling to get back to Duggan but managing.

13:55 EDT   
The pressure is giving Gaimon fits and he is falling off the pace.

13:56 EDT   
Frischkorn attacks. The Tecos rider is not taking this bait but sitting on Duggan's wheel instead.

13:56 EDT   
Frischkorn has a fifteen second gap.

13:57 EDT   
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.

14:00 EDT   
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.

14:00 EDT   
Duggan, of course, gets to ride wheels and be ready to take over the lead just in case Para can pull Frischkorn back.

14:05 EDT   
Frischkorn is through the start/finish line with only six laps remaining.

14:07 EDT   
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.

14:14 EDT   
The gap is up to 1:47 as the three chasers pass the start/finish line.

14:15 EDT   
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.

14:17 EDT   
The riders from the original peloton are now mingled with the spectators and cheering on their favorite remaining racers.

14:26 EDT   
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.

14:28 EDT   
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 show.

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.

14:34 EDT   
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.

14:37 EDT   
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).

14:39 EDT   
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.

14:42 EDT   
Duggan attacks on a small incline.

14:43 EDT   
He is driving away from Gaimon and Para. Para tried to chase but Duggan jumped to a twenty-second gap in no time at all.

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.

14:45 EDT   
Para has caught onto Duggan and is now sitting on his wheel. An amazing effort by the Columbian.

14:45 EDT   
Duggan attacks again.

14:45 EDT   
It seems that Para has saved more in the tank that he has let on. He is persistent and not giving up.

14:46 EDT   
Duggan and Para are together again; both riders soft pedaling.

14:51 EDT   
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.

14:52 EDT   
Frischkorn takes the tenth annual Univest Grand Prix.

14:54 EDT   
Duggan is leading Para into the finish. The pace is slow; both riders trying to decide when to make the jump.

14:55 EDT   
Para is behind. Duggan is staying close to the right side of the road waiting for Para to pounce.

14:55 EDT   
Para jumps and took second. Duggan third.

14:56 EDT   
We're just waiting to see if Gaimon was able to hold his position on the road and finish fourth.

15:07 EDT   
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.