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2002 US Elite National Championships
Tennessee, USA, July 18-21, 2002
Stars and Stripes For a Year
By Mark Zalewski
Jessica Phillips and Scottie Weiss won't have to worry about their road racing attire for the next year. That decision was set in stone this past weekend in Nashville, TN, as the two claimed their first Elite National Road Race titles.
The sun wasn't hiding behind too many clouds for either the 67.3 mile women's race or for the 118.8 mile afternoon men's race. Temperature were well into the 90's and the humidity made it feel worse. Riders departed from the beautiful riverfront of downtown Nashville in a neutral start and headed out of town to the circuit portion of the course.
The peloton was watched over carefully by local police and race officials as they navigated through the traffic. Only one traffic problem in the women's race was encountered when part of the back pack was led off the course for a moment and the rolling enclosure was stretched too far. Beyond that, the race control and organization was handled beautifully by the police and organizers.
After a 38 mile ride to the circuit course, the riders were quickly greeted by their nemesis for the day, a lovely twisting and turning mile-plus climb that the women would have to cover 3 times and the men 6. There was a very busy neutral feed zone half-way up the climb for the riders, and as the day wore on, I even passed out a few bottles. It was as much of a race for the bottle as it was for the jersey!
Both races saw their share of break always. In the women's race, Saturn and T-Mobile fought long and hard covering each other. Defending champion, Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn), was one of the pre-race favorites. Her Saturn teammate kept a close eye of the likes of T-Mobile's Amber Neben, and Dede Demet-Barry, as well as the veteran Tina Mayolo-Pic of the Diet Rite team.
The break that stayed away contained Bruckner, Jessica Phillips (Saturn,) Neben, Demet-Barry, Laura Van Gilder (Trek,) Heather Albert (Goldy's,) and Tina Mayolo-Pic. Buckner drove the pace, but it was the younger (and least expected) teammate, Jessica Phillips, that was able to get away from the pack as the race was headed back into the city. Amber Neben was the only one to stay with her, and as the two rounded the final two turns, it was Phillips again who made the jump and came out of the last corner first. She took the win on the line by less than a wheel length over Neben. Tina Mayolo-Pic out sprinted the break for third, and Bruckner, high off of winning the time-trial two days before, came over in seventh.
Upon hearing the excitement of the crowd and her team manager, Bruckner thought they were for her. "I crossed the line not knowing what had happened, and I thought I had won!" Even though she didn't win, she played a vital role in keeping the Stars and Stripes within the team. "She [Bruckner] told me everything to do over the radio," said an overwhelmed Phillips. "I was hoping to help Kimberly by covering the breaks. We were both confident we could go with anything."
This was the 24 year old and second-year pro's first win of the season, and a fine one at that.
With A Little Help From My Friends
West Virginia/GoMart's Scottie Weiss has thought about this race for a long time. He came in third in 1999 and got a glimpse of something he wanted. "I've been wanting this race ever since then." said Weiss.
Well, he wasn't going to get it alone. Luckily, Weiss brought a few friends along for the ride, namely his West Virginia/GoMart team. And that team would help him when luck wasn't shining on him.
As the men rolled out of the downtown area the heat was beginning to spike. Seven laps of the hilly course was going to cause many to rethink their entry. An early fast pace up the climb sent many riders off the back. Yet the heat was getting to everyone and soon the pack settled in for remaining laps. At this point, 41 year-old Chris Walker of the RPM/Zombies team tried a solo effort.
This was not new territory for the rider from California, who took a solo flyer off the front in the 115 degree heat to win the Master's National Championships two weeks earlier. Attacks came frequently as riders tried to catch Walker. One break contained Weiss and two other riders. As they crested the climb on the third lap, the lead rider turned to see where the pack was. In doing so, he rubbed wheels with the second rider and caused a crash. Weiss, in third position, tumbled over the downed rider. But all was not lost as the packed raced by. "My entire team stopped immediately, and pulled me back on to the pack."
Attacks continued and were getting more and more populated as the miles ticked down. Nine chasers formed on the last lap to bring the solo Walker back in, including Mark Fitzgerald (USPS-U23,) Scottie Weiss (Go-Mart), Paul Martin (Go-Mart), and John Hamblen (Wheelworks/Cannondale.) On the run back into town, the group finally caught up with Walker with only a few miles remaining.
As they entered the downtown area, Weiss, Martin, and Hamblen had broken away from Fitzgerald and Walker, and the three entered the final circuit together. Once again, having friends by his side proved to be the deciding factor for Weiss. "I wanted to get through Scottie and Paul, but they were just too strong," said Hamblen.
"My teammate Paul attacked and John countered. Then he attacked and we took turns covering," said Weiss. Weiss was then able to come out of the final turn with a 7 second gap, and he never looked back. The sprint for second place was non-existent as Paul Martin raised his arms in celebration for his teammate's victory.
Weiss voiced his win in one sentence, "I owe everything to my team."
National Road Championships
Two National Championship jerseys were awarded Saturday afternoon in downtown Nashville as the 2002 USCF Elite National Cycling Championships convened in the Volunteer state.
Jessica Phillips (Saturn) and Scottie Weiss (West Vriginia/Go Mart) played it smart and matched the attacks but also saved the best for last, enough to take them both to the line ahead of the pack and onto the podium. Phillips (Boulder, Colo.) took to the 67.3 mile road race with the response time of a veteran racer-covering attack after attack and conserving the right amount of energy to take the day's final prize- the stars-and-stripes jersey.
With a National Championship at stake, attacks started early and continued until the very end of the 67.3 mile course. The first major attack came at the 8-mile mark from Team T-Mobile's Kim Anderson. The Saturn gang caught Anderson and brought along a few of her teammates- Amber Neben and Dede Demet-Barry. Team T-Mobile and Saturn continued to drive the pace into the second lap when the group solidified with a selection of riders including Kimberly Bruckner, Phillips, Neben, Demet-Barry, Laura Van Gilder, Heather Albert, and Tina Mayolo-Pic, This established group dictated the tempo of the day- with a 1:15 gap on the field at 46 miles.
Four miles later, the group decided to shake things up and Saturn's Kimberly Bruckner decided to be the forerunner. Bruckner's effort was matched by T-Mobile's Dede Demet-Barry and Goldy's Heather Albert. The three jumped to an 18-second advantage at the 50-mile mark. The chase group was well-defined with Diet-Rite's Tina Mayolo-Pic driving the pack. Six miles later the group was reassembled- a gang of seven with veteran riders and young guns side-by-side. Attacks had become regular occurrences by now and it was Phillips who took off on a short hill with just seven miles to go, the skyline of Nashville just a short way off. Neben countered and grabbed onto the Saturn rider's wheel.
The end of the line was drawing near for the contenders and Goldy's Heather Albert kept the chase group alive with her frequent and strong attacks. With a National Championship at stake- everyone had their eyes on the prize-and nobody wanted to be caught off guard. The 24-year old Phillips launched an attack on a short hill with 8 miles to go and only Neben could grab onto her wheel. The strategy stuck and with 10km to go the duo maneuvered side-by-side until Phillips jumped before the final turn into the finish and took the victory by a wheel, securing another stars-and-stripes jersey for Saturn, the second in forty-eight hours for the team.
Thursday's National Time Trial Jersey was awarded to defending Time Trial and Road Race Champion, Kimberly Bruckner. The remaining five remained tight until the final straightaway-until Tina Mayolo-Pic accelerated to grab third just ahead of Heather Albert. Trek's Laura Van Gilder hung on for fifth and T-Mobile's Dede Demet-Barry notched sixth for the day's effort. Defending champion Kimberly Bruckner claimed seventh. Phillips was clearly thrilled with the victory and her Saturn teammates were eager and excited to congratulate her. "I was hoping to help Kimberly today- I was in a break with five riders and really not totally comfortable, but I just kept going and the breaks kept going too. It was a really good course to race- the descents were really fun."
Women Espoirs Megan Elliott saw an opportunity and decided that the road race was the place to grab that opportunity. The 20-year old from Iowa said she felt good on the course and thus wrapped up a weekend of racing by grabbing the Women's Espoir National Championship Jersey with an impressive effort amongst the elite women's field. Lauren Franges (Amoroso's) and Maggie Shirley (Genesis Scuba) took second and third respectively, but possibly more impressive was the top trio's performance within the elite peleton. Elliott snagged a twelfth-place spot in the combined standings with Franges taking 16th and Shirley securing 17th.
Elite Men Scottie Weiss (Radford, VA) had been thinking about the National Championship for some time. A pretty long time in fact. The 30-year old has had nearly three years to ponder the possibilities after a third-place finish at Nationals in 1999. Weiss and his full-support team (West Vriginia/Go Mart) were looking to improve on that result and came into Nashville with the goal of a championship jersey- and their plan played out to perfection. Go-Mart handled the frequent attacks on the day and stayed strong enough throughout the 118-mile affair to put three riders in the top ten. "I've been thinking about this race for about a year. In 99' I wasted too much energy by being out there alone. Today I was surrounded by an amazing team. They told me to sit in and save my energy. I'm an aggressive rider and my team reminded me that they could do a lot of work out there."
Weiss had a wild go of it in the fourth lap as he popped off his bike and into a ditch at one point. His dedicated team was at the ready and immediately delivered him back to the pack. Six large circuit laps in the heat of late July would surely lend itself to difficult racing. The peleton complimented that theme with endless attacks mostly to catch solo breakaway rider Chris Walker. The RPM/Zombies rider pulled away at the 65-mile mark. Walker had been part of a twelve-man break that formulated at the 45-mile mark.
The group had put 35 seconds on the main pack when the recently named Master's Champion (Walker) launched an attack that would stick for nearly fifty miles. Walker and Jonathon Wirsing (Team Snow Valley) paired up for ten miles with a 1:50 advantage on the main field at one point. At mile 65, Walker had had enough and decided to break away. The 41-year old put 20 seconds on Wirsing but the chase group was preparing itself too.
On lap five, three chasers organized and took off to reel in Walker and Wirsing. Russell Langley (Team Snow Valley), Shawn Milne (Wheelworks/Cannondale), and Ben Sharp (West Vriginia/Go Mart) were in the thick of the chase with just 40 seconds on the main pack. By mile 76, Walker had established a solid 2:08 on the field and hoped to go solo back to downtown Nashville. But the miles were piling up and the chase group was becoming bigger largely due to strong and productive attacks by Mark Fitzgerald (USAC-USPS Espoir National Team) and Peter Baker (Go-Mart).The West Virginia based Go-Mart team had riders well-positioned to counter any major attacks.
On the final lap, things began to take shape in the form of a strong group determined to bring in Walker. The list of players certainly had a distinct West Virginian tone to it. The final feed zone saw the chase group closing in on Walker with Mark Fitzgerald pouring it on just 10 seconds back. The nine chasers and Fitzgerald joined Walker with less than 10 miles to go. Scottie Weiss (Go-Mart), Paul Martin (Go-Mart), and John Hamblen (Wheelworks/Cannondale) had decided it was time to make a go of it and they were closely followed by Mark Fitzgerald and Chris Walker. The five made continuous attempts to rattle one another but noone would let go. Scottie Weiss had teammate Paul Martin at his side and got the word to go for it.
In the final straightaway, Scottie Weiss took the sprint over John Hamblin with Weiss's teammate Paul Martin grabbing third. Mark Fitzgerald claimed fourth with Chris Walker took fifth. At the awards ceremony along the riverfront, Weiss reflected on what it took to deliver him to the line first. "I've been thinking about this race for about a year and what it would take to win. I focused on putting in the miles and when I didn't do as well as I wanted to in Thursday's time trial I wanted this even more. My teammate Paul Martin is super-strong and when he said to "Go" I just went."
USAC-USPS Mark Fitzgerald may be an Espoir in terms of racer age-category but in reality the Norfolk, VA resident rides like a seasoned pro. The 22-year old staged a handful of attacks during the 118.8 mile championship race and ended up on the podium snagging an impressive fourth-place finish. Espoir rider Shawn Milne (Wheelworks/Cannondale) was sixth overall and Michael Voight (Evolution Cycling Team) grabbed ninth. USAC-USPS rider Jonathon Retseck was the fourth Espoir rider crossing the line in 4:41:01 for 12th place overall.
Photos thanks to Mark Zalewski
Women 1 Jessica Phillips (Saturn Cycling Team) 2.42.44 2 Amber Neben (T-Mobile) 3 Tina Mayolo-Pic (Diet Rite) 0.06 4 Heather Albert (Goldy's) 0.07 5 Laura Van Guilder (Trek Plus) 6 Dede Demet-Berry (T-Mobile) 0.08 7 Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn Cycling Team) 8 Nicole Freedman (Rona Cycling) 4.04 9 Catherine Bearce (CCB/Volkswagen) 10 Mari Holden (T-Mobile) 11 Charm Breon (Freddie Fu Cycling) 4.05 12 Megan Elliott (Unattached) 13 Cheryl Binney (Diet Rite) 14 Kori Kelly (Diet Rite) 15 Meredith Miller (Talgo America) 4.06 16 Lauren Franges (Amoroso's/HH RACING) 17 Maggie Shirley (Genesis Scuba /FFCC) 18 Joan Wilson (Talgo America) 19 Rebecca Mc Clintock (Serotta Women's Cycling 4.07 20 Mary Mclaurin (Mercy Cycling Team) 21 Kristy Scheffenacker (Team Snow Valley) 4.08 22 Leah Tofflon (Mike Fraysse's Sports Resort) 23 Shawn Heidgen (Athletes By Design) 24 Zoe Owers (NHCC-Team New Hampshire) 4.09 25 Mina Pizzini (Diet Rite) 26 Melissa Sanborn (Hutch Eugene) 4.10 27 Katrina Berger (T-Mobile) 28 Diana Gillam (Team Snow Valley) 4.11 29 Kim Anderson (T-Mobile) 30 Dotsie Cowden (T-Mobile) 31 Jennifer Scott (All American Bicycle Club) 4.12 32 April Henderson (Helens/Trek/VW) 33 Jody Koch (Trek Volkswagen) 34 Jennifer Wilson (Mt Velo/Supergo) 4.13 35 Grace Taylor (Serotta Women's Cycling Team) 4.14 36 Gail Longenecker (Rona Cycling) 11.49 37 Suzanne Sonye (Saturn Cycling Team) 38 Lauren Gaffney (Terry Precision) 22.27 39 Jennifer Cooper (Genesis Scuba/FFCC) 40 Meghan Morse (Serotta Women's Cycling Team) 41 Janine Verstraeten (Trek Plus) 22.28 42 Alison Brown (Genesis Scuba/FFCC) 43 Emily Westbrook (Greggs Trek Volkswagen) 22.29 44 Jennifer Petosa (DeFeet) 45 Christine Miller (Mercy Cycling Team) 22.30 46 Jessica Peil (Team Snow Valley) 47 Rachel Massey (Ford No Boundries) 48 Josephine Babin (Miles For Smiles) 22.32 49 Jody Kosinski (Genesis Scuba/FFCC) 50 Odessa Osorio (Trek Plus) 23.02 51 Sheila Orem (Int'l Christian Cycling Club) 52 Nicole Brandt (Minute Maid/Dasani) 23.03 53 Julie Mallette (Velo Clips) 54 Elizabeth Morse (Trek/Volkswagen) 55 Anna Milkowski (Gearworks-SRP) 23.05 56 Melanie Fitz (Trek Volkswagen) 49.20 57 Jennifer Whatley (Unattached) Men 1 Scottie Weiss (West Virginia-Gomart) 4.39.04 2 Jon Hamblen (Wheelworks/Cannondale) 0.07 3 Paul Martin (West Virginia/Gomart) 0.08 4 Mark Fitzgerald (USPS U-23 TEAM) 0.15 5 Chris Walker (RPM/Zombies) 0.16 6 Shawn Milne (Wheelworks Cannondale) 0.53 7 Peter Baker (West Virginia/Gomart) 8 Chandler Weekes (Fairway/CYFAC) 1.04 9 Michael Voigt (Evolution Cycling Team) 1.05 10 George Menard (Team Snow Valley) 1.09 11 Ryan Blickem (Zia Velo) 1.11 12 Jonathan Retseck (USPS U-23 TEAM) 1.57 13 Scott Zwizanski (Team Snow Valley) 14 Michael Olheiser (VeloClips/Sun & Ski Sports) 2.00 15 Sandy Perrins (Logan Race Club) 2.02 16 Hugh Moran (Cycle Science-Trek/VW) 2.03 17 Eneas Freyre (Kissena Cycling Team) 18 Brian Rick (Village Peddler) 2.05 19 Saul Raisin (Team Krystal) 2.06 20 Patrick Sullivan (GS Ciao) 21 Daniel Rooke (Rage Racing) 2.07 22 Ryan Lane (RPM/Zombies) 2.40 23 David Bly (Helens/Trek/VW) 2.41 24 Karl Bordine (Excel Sports) 25 Timothy Henry (Homeland Communities/Reality) 2.45 26 Sterling Magnell (Saturn Development) 2.46 27 Jonathan Page (Wheelworks/Cannondale) 28 Steven Cate (Mathis Brothers) 29 William Innes (Kissena Cycling Team) 30 Kenny Baker (VeloClips/Sun & Ski Sports) 31 Keith Horowitz (RPM/Zombies) 2.47 32 Thomas Mc Callion (Fairway/Cyfac) 33 Jon Stierwalt (FCRC-Trek/VW) 34 Michael Easter (D.A.R.E.) 2.48 35 Rich Harper (Cycles de Oro) 36 Darby Harris (Earth Fare) 37 Scott Edge (OLP Racing) 2.49 38 Jason Waddell (Mathis Brothers) 39 Joseph Miller (KED-SWOK-Bianchi-Fiat) 40 Reed Tanger (Power/ Mama) 41 David Wenger (Mathis Brothers) 42 Ben Early (Evergreen/Easton) 2.50 43 Dave Hensley (Cane Creek/Subaru) 44 Jonny Sundt (Broadmark Capital) 45 Ken York (VeloClips/Sun & Ski Sports) 2.51 46 Ted Huang (Webcor/Alto Velo) 47 Travis Hutchinson (Krystal) 48 Gregory Jones/Cook (West Virginia Go Mart) 2.52 49 Chris Peck (Wheelworks/Cannondale) 2.53 50 Zachary Lytle (Team Diabetic) 2.54 51 Kurt Garin (Homeland Communities/Reality) 2.55 52 Cody Waite (Unattached) 2.56 53 Andy Applegate (Cane Creek/Subaru) 2.58 54 Christopher Gottwald (Bicycle Action Project) 2.59 55 Jonathan Erdelyi (Ideal Tile/Brielle Cyclery) 3.01 56 James Baldesare (West Virginia/Gomart) 5.55 57 Steve Mlujeak (Jamis) 6.19 58 Ryan O'Connor (West Virginia-Gomart) 59 Bret Williamson (Hawley Racksmith.com) 60 Joseph Coddington (Cane Creek Subaru) 61 Chris Foster (Fairway/CYFAC) 62 Matthew Svatek (Cannondale/Wheelworks) 6.21 63 Don Autore (Orlando Velo) 6.22 64 Patrick Heaney (Webcor/Alto Velo) 65 Aron Huerta (Mercy Cycling Team) 6.24 66 Christian Foster (Back Yard Burgers Cycling) 10.15 67 Jonathan Heidemann (Rio Grand/Monsoon Racing) 19.53 68 Kent Bostick (Mercy Cycling Team) 69 Greg Miller (Southern Cycling Operations) 19.56 70 Dale Suttle (Back Yard Burgers Cycling Team) 20.04 71 John Osguthorpe (Logan Race Club) 20.57 72 Eric Pardyjak (First Endurance/Contender) 73 Alexander Pullen (MAC) 23.26 74 Arjuna Flenner (Columbia Bicycling Club) 75 Jonathan Wirsing (Team Snow Valley) 23.28 76 Chris Frederick (Jamis) 77 Heath Dotson (Cane Creek/Subaru) 78 Jonathan Card (Uppgren Associates/Cane Creek) 79 Christopher Guidry (Evergreen-Easton) 23.29