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Tour of Elk Grove - NE
USA, August 12-13, 2006
Clarke and Heal cash-in at Elk Grove
by Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Elk Grove Village, IL
Clarke's win gives Navigators $50K in 7 days
The two richest races of the year happened within a week of each other, and Navigators Insurance took the twenty-five thousand dollar top prize at each -- first in Charlotte last weekend with a win by Sean Milne out of a break, and again in Elk Grove with a win out of a break by Aussie Hilton Clarke just ahead of Christian Vande Velde (Team CSC).
"The team this year is just really exciting," said Clarke. "We have really come together and show that even without a superstar rider we can still win the big races."
Clarke and Vande Velde were two of a four rider break that also included Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) and Dave McCook (Jelly Belly). Vande Velde was the most motivated to win as he is from a nearby town and had numerous family members out cheering him on. "I was just giving everything I had, giving it my all," said Vande Velde. "I really wanted to win in front of my home crowd. Hilton was really good in the break, and so was Ivan. McCook just sat on, I don't know why."
The group of four had a comfortable lead that was cut in half late in the race by teams such as Colavita-Sutter Home, KodakGallery-Sierra Nevada and Health Net-Maxxis. "I pulled the last eleven laps, but It's hard with only three guys," said Health Net's Tim Johnson. "Teams just would not commit and it was frustrating because I knew could Gord could get it."
Teams were limited to only fiver riders each due to the narrow roads of the 2.2 mile course. "It is definitely a strange course and dangerous in the bunch."
Along with Vande Velde, two other ProTour Americans made appearances including CSC teammate Dave Zabriskie and Chris Horner (Davitamon-Lotto). Horner was active on the front all day, but mostly in an effort to stay out of the numerous crashes that at one point resulted in every Mavic neutral service bike out on the course. "There is no way I was going to be in back," said Horner. "I never heard any of the crashes and that was fine with me!"
As the laps counted down, so did the gap to the break, and it looked to be just a matter of time. But the peloton just could not close the door, which was surprising to Horner. "Colavita and Kodak really made a mistake in the last prime sprint by not keeping it rolling through. That would have brought the break back, but they just gapped their two guys off the front instead."
With the disorganization behind, Clarke and Vande Velde decided to drop the other two break riders. "With eight to go our lead was half. I talked to Vande Velde and said, 'Let's drill it and have a go!' If nothing else I would stay out to save my sprinters for a few more laps before the field sprint. From eight to six-to-go I just buried myself."
Stevic and McCook hung on for awhile, but eventually Vande Velde rolled a gap off the front that only Clarke could reach.
Into the final lap, Vande Velde and Clarke were still rolling through, making sure not to get caught by the field. "It was a little cat-and-mouse, but it's so much money for both first and second and we didn't want to give it away," said Clarke. "Into the last turn we both just kept it rolling to make sure the bunch didn't catch us. I felt I was the faster of the two of us and jumped him at 200 meters."
Bringing in the field was Gord Fraser (Health Net-Maxxis) back up to speed in his last season. "It's been a while since I won a field sprint that wasn't for the win," joked Fraser after the race. "I'm trying to end on a high note, but it's been hard to find the motivation. But third place here really boosts the morale."
With his racing days numbered, Fraser says he is not focusing on wins for himself as he his for his teammates. "I just want to be a contributor to the team -- I don't have a huge desire to go out on a win, especially with the team so capable right now."
But the most capable team of late seems to be Navigators Insurance, with two bug money wins as well as the overall at the Tour de Toona last month and strong performances at the Tour of Utah this week.
Heal's 'training' nets a win
Rachel Heal (Victory Brewing) is ramping up her workouts these days to be focused on the world championships for Great Britain. To that end, she decided to take a solo flyer in today's Tour of Elk Grove. After three laps off the front alone, she returned to the field and proceeded to ride on the front for more 'training.' In the final lap, Heal attacked the field again and held her lead all the way to line to pocket the biggest share of the $6,500 purse - making training pay for itself.
"I'm back in a heavy training phase to get ready for worlds," said Heal. "Parts of the course were pretty windy, but I used my SRM to measure my wattage."
Victory Brewing clearly had the upper hand with the largest team representation today, with only Cheerwine and Aaron's Corprate Furnishings sending full squads. Victory Brewing rode their advantage in a textbook fashion, putting a rider into every move and cleaning up on the primes.
The team also had multiple options to play into the final lap, with sprinters Brenda Lyons who won the Tour de Toona criterium as well as Laura Yoisten. But team director Mike Tamayo wanted to win in convincing fashion, which meant off the front.
Enter Rachel Heal.
"I went in the last turn," said Heal. "I came from about half-way back so I had a lot of speed and when I heard I had seven seconds on the final stretch I felt confident."
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Mark Zalewski/Cyclingnews.com
USCF Alexian Brothers Men's International Pro Race (Cat 1) 1 Hilton Clarke (Aus) Navigators Insurance 2.08.05 2 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC 3 Gord Fraser (Can) Health Net Maxxis 4 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly 5 Alejanoro Acton (Arg) Targetraining 6 Antonio Cruz (USA) Toyota-United Pro 7 Chris Horner (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 8 Brad Huff (USA) Team TIAA-Cref 9 Steve Tilford (USA) Trek/Shimano 10 Dan Schmatz (USA) Kodakgallery.com/Sie 11 Siro Camponogara (Ita) Navigators Insurance 12 Tommy Nankervis (USA) Priority Health 13 Jonathan Page (USA) Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Home 14 Rahsaan Bahati (USA) Team TIAA-Cref 15 Alberto Tiberio (Swi) Health Net Maxxis 16 Vassili Davidenko (USA) Navigators Insurance 17 Frank Travieso (Cub) AEG-Toshiba-JetNet 18 Emile Abraham (Tri) AEG-Toshiba-JetNet 19 Jeff Hopkins (USA) Jittery Joes 20 Kayle Leogrande (USA) Kahala La Grange 21 Oleg Grishkin (Rus) Navigators Insurance 22 Todd Henriksen (USA) VMG Racing 23 Rudy Robaina (USA) VMG Racing 24 Ivan Stevic (USA) Toyota-United Pro 25 Dan Holt (USA) Nerac\Outdoorlights.com 26 Adam Myerson (USA) Nerac\Outdoorlights.com 27 Zach Bell (Can) Rite Aid Pro Cycling 28 Paul Martin (USA) Texas Roadhouse 29 Martin Gilbert (Can) Kodakgallery.com/Sie 30 Reid Mumford (USA) ABD Cycling Team 31 Johnson Kenneth (USA) Rockville 32 Shawn Milne (USA) Navigators Insurance 33 Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Home 34 Bryan Smith (USA) Team TIAA-Cref 35 Bobby Lea (USA) Toyota-United Pro 36 Frank Pipp (USA) Targetraining 37 Mark Hekman (USA) Abercrombie and Fitch 38 Viktor Laza SER Serbian National Team 39 Daniel Holloway (USA) PICat 40 Jackson Stewart (USA) Kodakgallery.com/Sie 41 Jeffery Schroetlin (USA) Mesa Cycles Racing 42 Chad Nikolz (USA) Broad Mark / Hagens 43 Rich Harper (USA) Abercrombie and Fitch 44 Jaime Gandara (USA) Richardson Bikemart 45 David Gutlenplan (USA) Subaru Cycling Team 46 Stephen Spencer (USA) Mesa Cycles Racing 47 Ben Raby (USA) Sram 48 Paul Ellis (USA) Bianchi/Grand 49 Frank Dierking (USA) ABD Cycling Team 50 Mark Mccormack (USA) Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Home 51 Ryan Mckenzie (Can) Volkwagen/Trek 52 Jonny Sundt (USA) Priority Health 53 Dustin Macburme (Can) Targetraining 54 Nebojsa Jovanovic (SCG) AEG-Toshiba-JetNet 55 Kevin Attkisson (USA) Texas Roadhouse 56 Shawn Willard (USA) Wheel and Sprocket 57 Michael Kehberg (USA) DogFish Cycling 58 Wes Hartman (USA) Targetraining 59 Morten Christiansen (Den) Glud & Marstrand 60 Troy Wells (USA) Team TIAA-Cref 61 Robbie King (USA) Priority Health 62 Derek Witte (USA) WMCR 63 Proki Predra (Slo) Slovenia 64 Jared Facizsewski (USA) VMG Racing 65 Hayden Godfrey (NZl) Monex 66 Charles Crouse (USA) DogFish Cycling 67 Ryan Dewald (USA) Rite Aid Pro Cycling 68 Mike Ebert (USA) ABD Cycling Team 69 Yosvani Falcon (Cub) AEG-Toshiba-JetNet 70 Jacob Nielsen (Den) Glud & Marstrand 71 Rob Kelley (USA) Training Bible 72 Glenn Fant (USA) Monex 73 David Sachs (USA) Vision Quest 74 Todd Yezefski (USA) Nerac\Outdoorlights.com 75 Tyler Wren (Blr) Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Home 76 Andrew Crater (USA) Wheel and Sprocket 77 Joshua Carter (USA) Mesa Cycles Racing 78 Bill Elliston (USA) Targetraining 79 Davide Frattini (Ita) Colavita Olive Oil - Sutter Home Hot Sprint Winner 1 Brad Huff (USA) Team TIAA Cref Pro Women Cat 1/2/3 1 Rachel Heal (GBr) 1.32.11 2 Mackenzie Dickey (USA) Aaron's Corp. 3 Christina Dekraay (USA) TEAM FUJI/ Bolt 4 Brenda Lyons (USA) 5 Natalie Klemko (USA) America's Dairyland 6 Brooke O'connor (USA) Hub Racing 7 Shannon Hutchinson-Krupat (USA) Aaron's Corp Furn 8 Meredith Miller (USA) TEAm Lipton 9 Laura Yoisten (Can) 10 Kacy Mandafield (USA) Wolverine 11 Courtenay Brown (USA) McGuire Cycling 12 Clara Beard (USA) Cheerwine 13 Bri Kovac (USA) Texas Roadhouse 14 Mathilde Hupin Debeurme (USA) Sportif Bromont-Pearl 15 Kelly Benjamin (USA) Cheerwine 16 Laura Charameda (USA) McGuire Cycling 17 Andrea Meyers (USA) Kenda Tire 18 Anne Meyer (USA) Mercy Specialized 19 Debbie Dust (USA) Team Kenda Tire 20 Sarah Tillotson (USA) Colavita/Cooking 21 Sheba Farrin (USA) Hub Racing 22 Kate Sherwin (USA) 23 Sherri Stedje (USA) BBC 24 Kristin Sanders (USA) Cheerwine 25 June Upshaw (USA) Kenda Tire 26 Laura Bowles (USA) 27 Lauren Frangles (USA) 28 Sarah Uhl (USA) Serotta/Home Depot 29 Chrissy Ruiter (USA) 30 Catherine Walberg (USA) Team Kenda Tire 31 Jessica Cole (USA) C-U Racing 32 Sharon Monahan (USA) Best of the Bay Cyclist 33 Kathryn Clark (USA) TEAM FUJI/ Bolt 34 Candice Blickem (USA) Aaron's Corp. 35 Catherine Powers (USA) Aaron's Corp. Men Cat 3 1 Mike Sherer (Pony Shop) 2 Casey Masterson (Velo Trocadero) 3 Andrew Daley (Team Clif Bar Midwest) Men Cat 2 1 Robert White (PCW Cycling) 2 Dave Stone (Delta/Indy Velo) 3 John Meyers (Turin Bicycle) Men Cat 4 1 Edward Amstulz (XXX Athletics) 2 David Berger (Vision Quest) 3 Ansgar Graw (XXX Racing/Athletico Chicago) Junior, 12-14 1 Mike James (Nova Iscorp) 2 James Bird (Smart Cycling) 3 Jessica Prinmer (Athletes By Design) Junior Men, 15-18 1 Adam Kosela (Nova FS Corp) 2 Aloo Bolden (Dekalb) 3 Miwest Novak Matt Clif Bar (South Holland) Men Cat 5 1 Reed Oliff (LOT POLISH) 2 Jeff Holland (XXX Racing -) 3 Craig Hansen (Alberto's Sport)