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Commerce Bank Triple Crown

USA, June 3-8, 2008

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Race 1 - June 3: Lehigh Valley Classic (Men), 136.8km/85mi

Metlushenko wins Philly opener

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Allentown, Pennsylvania

Amore & Vita-McDonald's lands crucial sponsor win

Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-McDonalds Pro Cycling Team)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

'Unknown' was the norm for the day, with a new race course in the Lehigh Valley opening the Commerce Bank Triple Crown series. No rider seemed to know just how the race was going to turn out on the blank canvas of a course, and a swirling wind made officials even question their pre-race predictions. And in the end, it was most of the domestic peloton regulars asking 'Who was that?' in regards to Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-McDonald's) flashing by them. Metlushenko shot past inside the final 300 metres to take out the field sprint ahead Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) and Brad Huff (Jelly Belly.)

Even the final result was unknown for about five minutes as the Ukrainian Criterium Champion had posted-up for the photographers as Menzies threw his bike across the line. The situation prompted officials to go to the photo finish for the final result.

"I was a little bit scared but I wanted to make a good picture for the sponsor, but the next time I will wait until after the line," Metlushenko chuckled.

A pro since 2002, Metlushenko has ridden in the U.S. and in Philly before while on the Landbouwkrediet-Colnago team. He said his biggest wins to date had been the G.P. Costa degli Etruschi in 2002 and 2004.

Things slow up on the
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

The final two kilometres of the race consisted of a tough 500 metre uphill then a slight downhill for the final 1.5 kilometres to the finish. A late break combined with the hill put some disorganization into the sprint. Over the top of the hill it was Health Net-Maxxis driving the train up the left, but Metlushenko went off on his own on the far right side to get the drop on everyone.

"I did every lap with a 39-18 [up the hill] but the last lap with a 53-17," he said. "I waited for my team-mates Miguel Martinez and [Michael] Stevenon to bring me to the front. We were on the back of the Toyota-Untied train, but in the last 300 metres when everyone started sprinting on the left I just went alone on the right."

The break gets organized
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

"It was any man's race going up to the hill at two kilometres," said Huff. "But the speed was so high you can't hold it. Slipstream and CSC had controlled it up until there and then Rory with Health Net hit it up the climb. They got swarmed a couple of times but were able to hold off the group but then [Metlushenko] just threw a hail mary pass from behind."

"I'm not sure where [Metlushenko] came from but we had to wait because if we went too early I knew Huff would have come over me," said Menzies. "When I jumped I was coming to the line and I saw he was posting-up so I just threw it on the line. I thought I might have had it, but it's good for the crowd, we gotta keep it exciting."

The entire management staff of the Amore & Vita-McDonald's team was gathered around Metlushenko as he rolled back to the line, clearly elated at the win. Director sportif Ivano Fanini explained that this win was important for two of the team's sponsors.

"It's even more important than normal because our bike sponsor and McDonald's are American," he said, explaining that the team is trying to capitalize on a limited number of races on this side of the Atlantic. "We will race the Triple Crown, Tour de Beauce and then the Las Vegas criterium in September."

How it unfolded

The windy turns heading up
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

An impressive crowd for a first-year race was out to enjoy the sunshine and 80 degree weather as the riders rolled off the line. Almost immediately they were given their first taste of the wind as they crossed the 8th Street bridge, spanning the Lehigh Valley. The course itself was mostly rolling terrain with short, power climbs and technical turns. And as is customary for American racing, the speed was high from the gun - also attributable to the short 136 km distance.

Breakaways were never given a chance due to the course and wind conditions, though Tyler Wren (Colavita-Sutter Home) tried in earnest, going a whole lap by himself. The Jefferson Elementary School on the far side of the 8th Street bridge must have been visited by the team because their schools signs were all in support of the team, with the assembled kids going nuts at the sight of Wren. As he was being caught in front of the school he gave the kids a nice wave.

The Colavita-Sutter Home team was quite active in the breaks, with Luis Amaran Romero making the next move - which turned out to be the biggest of the day gaining a maximum of 1:15. With him were Jeffrey Louder (BMC Racing), Frank Pipp (Health Net - Maxxis), (Colavita-Sutter Home), Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team).

"Everyone was committed, you can't go out there and screw around on a course like this," said Tuft. "It was going really fast with so many guys just hitting it. The guys we had were all good with Louder and Amaran...it was a good break to roll. We got out to a minute and I was hoping we would at least last until the final lap."

Another group tried to get away
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

But the field led by High Road, Slipstream and Team CSC were keeping the gap in check, and with the help of other teams chipped away at the lead. With the gap to less than 10 seconds on the bridge only Tuft and Pipp were left with the others sitting up. But a chase group off the front of the field joined up and reformulated the break, including big guns like last year's Triple Crown overall winner Bernhard Eisel (High Road) and fourth place at this year's Paris-Roubaix Martijn Maaskant (Slipstream-Chipotle-H3O).

However, motivation was fleeting with the pack at just 20 seconds and only two laps remaining.

"When the other guys came up like Eisel and Maskaraant they tried to roll it, but at that point no one was committing," said Tuft. In addition, the variable wind direction made life tough in a small group. "Wind was a factor, every way you went there was a crosswind, so even when you are sitting on you are still pushing. You could never find the sweet spot."

Riders start to have a hard time
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Tuft's Symmetrics team-mate Christian Meier tried a solo move on the final lap, but was countered by Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing) on the back side of the course. He was joined by two Toyota-United riders in Dominque Rollin and Caleb Manion, Kevin Lacombe (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast), Matthew Wilson (Team Type 1), Derek Burke (Pezula Racing), Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) and Kirk O'Bee (Health Net-Maxxis).

Out of that only three - Rollin, O'Bee and Rodriguez - survived coming into the final three kilometres.

"The Health Net guy was sitting on," said Rollin. "I think we would have stayed but he was soft pedaling, so it broke down to three guys on the climb."

The remainder of the field was setting up for the field sprint, with O'Bee likely thinking of his sprinter Menzies.

Today's winner Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita/McDonalds) could hardly contain himself on the podium.
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

"We couldn't have done any more," said Menzies about his team's efforts. "We had everyone from the start of the day going to plan - Frank and Murphy killing it in the break, then Kirk was a way over the top of the climb... Murphy took over and then Rory, catching each guy in the break."

But it was the 32 year-old Metlushenko who spoiled the Health Net-Maxxis plan, coming alone on the outside of the lead-out to sneak ahead of Menzies. However, for both Huff and Menzies, today's result combined with last Sunday's CSC Invitational podium give each renewed confidence in a slow first-half of the seaon.

"I've been a little disappointed with my season up until now, and a win would have been nice but second is still good," said Menzies. "But as I said on Sunday [at CSC] we are going to try to win one of those because everyone is riding so awesome."

The Triple Crown moves back to Reading for the third year in-a-row, with three ascents up Mt. Penn for the men. Cyclingnews will have live coverage and full reports from the race.

Photography

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/

Images by Kurt Jambretz /www.actionimages.cc

Results - provisional

1 Yuri Metlushenko (Ukr) Amore & Vita - McDonald's                                3.05.35 (44.292 km/h)
2 Kari Menzies (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis
3 Bradley Huff (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
4 Alex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
5 Eric Baumann (Ger) Team Sparkasse
6 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Rock Racing
7 Henk Vogels (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
8 Tyler Farrar (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
9 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Team High Road
10 Andrew Pinfold (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
11 Anibal Andres Borrajo (Arg) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
12 Yasvany Falcon (Cub) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
13 Luis Fernando Macias Hernandez (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
14 Valery Kobzarenko (Ukr) Team Type 1
15 Claudio Corioni (Ita) Liquigas
16 Benjamin Brooks (Aus) Team Type 1
17 Mark Walters (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
18 Curtis Gunn (USA) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
19 Carlos Oyarzun (Chi) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
20 Neil Shirley (USA) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
21 Jonathan Cantwell (Aus) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
22 Shawn Milne (USA) Team Type 1
23 John Fredy Parra (Col) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
24 Antonio Cruz (USA) BMC Racing Team
25 Moises Aldape Chavez (Mex) Team Type 1
26 Philipp Mamos (Ger) Team Sparkasse
27 Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC
28 Christian Meier (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
29 Jackson Stewart (USA) BMC Racing Team
30 Edward King (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
31 Andrew Talansky (USA) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
32 Miguel Martinez (Fra) Amore & Vita - McDonald's
33 Jake Rytlewski (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
34 Christopher Jones (USA) Team Type 1
35 Michael Grabinger (USA) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
36 Mark Hekman (USA) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
37 Davide Frattini (Ita) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
38 Ryan Roth (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
39 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing
40 Jared Barrilleaux (USA) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
41 Ciarán Power (Irl) Pezula Racing
42 Eric Wohlberg (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
43 Kyle Wamsley (USA) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
44 Cameron Evans (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
45 Darren Lill (RSA) BMC Racing Team
46 Gregorio Ladino (Col) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
47 Francisco Matamoros (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
48 Chad Hartley (USA) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
49 Roger Hammond (GBr) Team High Road
50 Glen Chadwick (Aus) Team Type 1
51 Danilo Wyss (Swi) BMC Racing Team
52 Victor Hugo Pena Grisales (Col) Rock Racing
53 Fabio Calabria (Aus) Team Type 1
54 Brian Jensen (USA) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
55 Vicente Reynes Mimo (Spa) Team High Road
56 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Rock Racing
57 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis
58 Bernardo Colex Tepoz (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
59 Matthew Goss (Aus) Team CSC
60 Chris Wherry (USA) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
61 Cameron Jennings (Aus) Pezula Racing
62 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Den) Team CSC
63 Richard England (Aus) Bissell Pro Cycling
64 Andreas Schillinger (Ger) Team Sparkasse
65 Tilo Schüler (Ger) Team Sparkasse
66 Dominique Rollin (Can) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
67 Andy Bajadali (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
68 Lars Wackernagel (Ger) Team Sparkasse
69 John Murphy (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis                                           0.38
70 Svein Tuft (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team                                          0.40
71 Jeremiah Wiscovitch (USA) Rock Racing                                             0.42
72 John Durango (Col) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
73 Jeremy Vennell (NZl) Bissell Pro Cycling                                          0.45
74 Taylor Tolleson (USA) BMC Racing Team                                             0.48
75 Frank Travieso (Cub) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
76 Andrew Randell (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team                                      1.03
77 David O'Loughlin (Irl) Pezula Racing                                              1.06
78 Sebastian Frey (Ger) Team Sparkasse                                               1.15
79 Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight                 1.28
80 Matthew Wilson (Aus) Team Type 1
81 Tim Johnson (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis
82 Maciej Bodnar (Pol) Liquigas                                                      1.35
83 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis                                            1.42
84 Evan Elken (USA) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
85 Ivan Santaromita (Ita) Liquigas
86 Enrico Franzoi (Ita) Liquigas
87 Erik Barlevav (USA) Time Pro Cycling                                              1.52
88 Jason Donald (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
89 Reid Mumford (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast                            1.57
90 Adam Myerson (USA) Time Pro Cycling                                               2.05
91 Michael Friedman (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30                                2.10
92 William Frischkorn (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
93 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
94 Ivan Stevic (Srb) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
95 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
96 Martijn Maaskant (Ned) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
97 Blake Caldwell (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
98 Thomas Soladay (USA) Time Pro Cycling                                             2.16
99 Caleb Manion (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
100 Matt Rice (Aus) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
101 Richard Geng (Ger) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell                    2.40
102 Steven Cozza (USA) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
103 John Devine (USA) Team High Road
104 Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
105 Benjamin King (Aus) Southaustralia.com - AIS
106 David Guttenplan (USA) Time Pro Cycling
107 Rahsaan Bahati (USA) Rock Racing
108 Jacob Erker (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
109 Timothy Henry (USA) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
110 Tommy Nankervis (Aus) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
111 Heath Blackgrove (NZl) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
112 Garrett Peltonen (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
113 Francois Parisien (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team
114 Magnus Backstedt (Swe) Slipstream Chipotle p/b H30
115 Scott Jackson (USA) DLP Racing
116 Scott Zwizanski (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling
117 Martin Gilbert (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
118 Kevin Lacombe (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
119 Jonathan Sundt (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast                         4.54
120 Kyle Gritters (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis
121 Aaron Olson (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling                                            5.26
122 Aaron Tuckerman (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
123 Jackie Simes (USA) Time Pro Cycling
124 Cody Stevenson (Aus) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
125 Michael Stevenson (Swe) Amore & Vita - McDonald's
DNF Edvald Boasson Hagen (Nor) Team High Road
DNF Gregory Henderson (NZl) Team High Road
DNF Servais Knaven (Ned) Team High Road
DNF Tony Martin (Ger) Team High Road
DNF Lasse Bĝchman (Den) Glud & Marstrand Horsens
DNF André Steensen (Den) Team CSC
DNF Jason McCartney (USA) Team CSC
DNF Alberto Curtolo (Ita) Liquigas
DNF Martin Kohler (Swi) BMC Racing Team
DNF Mike Sayers (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNF Jeffry Louder (USA) BMC Racing Team
DNF Phil Cortes (Can) Amore & Vita - McDonald's
DNF Sören Nissen (Den) Amore & Vita - McDonald's
DNF Joao Correia (Por) Bissell Pro Cycling
DNF Tyler Wren (USA) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
DNF Luca Damiani (Ita) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
DNF Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
DNF Luis Amaran (Cub) Colavita Sutter Home p/b CookingLight
DNF Spencer Beamer (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Joey Coddington (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Charles Pendry (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Matthew Howe (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Boyd Johnson (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Christopher Judy (USA) DLP Racing
DNF Matthew Crane (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis
DNF Frank Pipp (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis
DNF Nicholas Sanderson (Aus) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
DNF Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
DNF Michael Lange (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
DNF Nicholas Reistad (USA) Jelly Belly Cycling Team
DNF Trent Wilson (Aus) Jittery Joe's Pro Cycling Team
DNF Dan Bowman (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies - Medifast
DNF Morgan Fox (Irl) Pezula Racing
DNF Martyn Irvine (Irl) Pezula Racing
DNF William Connolly (Irl) Pezula Racing
DNF William Elliston (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Robbie King (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Stephen Kincaid (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Clayton Barrows (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Guido Palma (Arg) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Miles Watson (NZl) Rite Aid Pro Cycling p/b Shebell & Shebell
DNF Michael Creed (USA) Rock Racing
DNF Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Rock Racing
DNF Dan Timmerman (USA) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
DNF Kevin Miller (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
DNF Dustin MacBurnie (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
DNF Mark Batty (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
DNF Eric Robertson (Can) Team R.A.C.E. Pro
DNF Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Team Sparkasse
DNF Charles Dionne (Can) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
DNF Alessandro Bazzana (Ita) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
DNF Bradley White (USA) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
DNF Ricardo Escuela (Arg) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
DNF Cody O'Reilly (USA) Successfulliving.com p/b Parkpre
DNF Omar Cervantes Diaz (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
DNF Lui Alfredo Gutierrez Colunga (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
DNF Florencio Ramos (Mex) Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
DNF Daniel Ramsey (USA) Time Pro Cycling
DNF David Duncan (USA) Time Pro Cycling
DNF Michael Stoop (USA) Time Pro Cycling
DNF Robert Sweeting (USA) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
DNF Predrag Prokic (Srb) Toshiba - Santo Pro Cycling p/b Herbalife
DNF Hilton Clarke (Aus) Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team

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