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Gateway Cup - NE
St Louis, Missouri, USA, August 29-September 1, 2003
Stage 3 - August 31: Giro della Montagna
Confusion reigns as Elliot takes truncated women's race
By Trudy van Der Straaten
The Gateway Cup, held each Labor Day Weekend in St Louis, marks the end of the season for many Midwest regional racers. At this time of the year conditions are invariably hot and humid - this year, add intermittent downpours to the mix.
Sunday's Giro della Montagna ended in much confusion as race officials suddenly shortened the race with 5 laps to go. Although Diet Rite duo Kerri Soraci and Kori Kelly dominated throughout the race with constant attacks the win went to Saturn's Megan Elliot, with ABD's prize sprinter Kelly Benjamin picking up second place and Kori Kelly taking third.
Named for its location in the streets of the Italian district called "The Hill", the Giro is a 1.2 mile rectangle tight corners and long straights, a slight rise on the back side and a downhill finish, accompanied by a cross-tailwind this weekend. It had rained earlier in the day but the course was dry by the time 28 pro/123 women and just as many cat 4s lined up for the 45 min + 5 laps, waiting for the ambulance to finish cleaning up the Men's Cat 3 race (With two laps to go one rider took the corner too quickly and decided to bunny hop the curb, colliding head on with a hapless Cat 4, who having finished his race unscathed was walking his bike back to his car!)
From the second the gun went off, Diet Rite piled on the pressure with attack after attack, especially into the wind on the uphill straightaway, while the rest of the field looked to Elliot, Team Basis rider Stephanie Hannos, and the Mercy-Cannondale girls to cover their moves.
Without team-mate Sarah Tillotson, who met with misfortune during Friday night's Lafayette Square Crit under the Lights and was forced to retire from the series, ABD's Kelly Benjamin tried to lay low until the finish-line sprint, but even she was forced out of hiding from time to time. "All I can say is that it was very difficult to race against Diet Rite without Sarah. I was relied on heavily by the field to chase everything and I could have used some help." Benjamin said.
With 5 laps to go the lead group was about to lap the mostly cat 4 chase group and in a bid to keep bookkeeping to a minimum officials abruptly shortened the race by 4 laps, unfortunately so for Kerry Soraci. Soraci, who was off the front at this point, blew past the start-finish before the announcers revealed the change of plans. Even the lead group wasn't sure what was going on - was it suddenly 1 lap to go for everyone or just the chase group? The news quickly rolled back along the field like a game of Chinese Whispers and boom! - the lead group turned up the heat and put the hammer down. Unfortunate for Soraci, who looked back to see a large field closing in on her and 5 more laps, or so she thought, and decided her only option was to sit up and get swallowed with enough time to recover for the sprint. By the time she heard teammate Kori yelling at her to keep going, if she ever did, it was too late and she ended up sprinting for fifth.
In compensation to Soraci, who was leading the G.C. before the race, officials decided not to count points for Sunday's race.
Henderson wins the Giro
By John Musselman, www.stlbiking.com
It was the 18th time this race has been held in this old Italian neighborhood. Streets are lined with modest yet immaculate houses and restaurants with strong Italian ties. It's another rectangular course with 4 left turns and a rather unimpressive steady climb and downhill that can propel racers upwards of 40 plus mph. It was easy to see riders following the lines as the field flowed downward toward the crowd of spectators. Another team effort gave 7up's Greg Henderson the win in the final lap. John Lieswyn took 2nd and Backyard Burger's Robert Nordmeyer held on to capture 3rd place.
The earlier women's pro race was the center of discussion this day. Kerri Soraci had nearly a 1/3 lap lead on the field. The race was being shortened to get it completed before the next rainstorm arrived. You could see it over the rooftops. Officials via the PA system were calling "One Lap To Go, One Lap To Go". Soraci either didn't hear the warning or missed it. The field, being out of sight around the corner, was accelerating to sprint speed for the finish. The field caught Kerri on the last turn situated at the top of the low slopping straightaway. She was doomed. Unable to begin her sprint to time she finished 5th. Saturn's Megan Elliot was right there ready to take the advantage and the win. ABD's Kelly Benjamin was right behind her in a tight finish and finished 2nd. Never say "never".
Men Pro,1,2 1 Greg Henderson 2 John Lieswyn 3 Robert Nordmeyer 4 Mark Southland 5 Frank Pipp 6 Brice Jones 7 Alex Robles 8 Aaron Hubbell 9 Eric Pirtle 10 Nate Cornelius 11 Joshua Carter 12 Chad Cagle 13 Charles Huff 14 Jason McCartney 15 Kurt Rees 16 Paul Nilsen 17 Kurt Fletcher 18 Ryan Pirtle 19 William Ross 20 Bennet VanDerGenugten Women P,1,2,3 1 Megan Elliot 2 Kelly Benjamin 3 Kori Kelly 4 Nancy Daigler 5 Kerry Soraci 6 Heather Brice 7 Ali McNulty 8 Sarah Barber 9 Anne Meyer 10 Liz Cazer Men 3 1 Stephen Rouff 2 Robert Kron 3 Jeff Constance 4 Lance Sulzen 5 Peter Erdos 6 Patrick Meeker 7 Dennis Savitski 8 William Baudhuin 9 Doug Scronce 10 Phil Todd 11 Sven Sprogoe 12 Tosh Yoshino 13 Mike Kincaide 14 Robert Springer 15 Ulric DeYoung Men 4,5 1 Johnny Merli 2 Aaron Johnson 3 James Pirtle 4 Nicholas Kempin 5 Jon Randell 6 Jeremy Sievers 7 Phil Mann 8 Anthony Dust 9 Dan Bruns 10 Jacob Chartier Women 4 1 Lisa Vetterlein 2 Julie Tatar 3 Tracy Huber 4 Laura Starr 5 Michelle Jensen 6 Jill Thole 7 Pam Hinton 8 Megan Hottman