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Gateway Cup - NE
St Louis, Missouri, USA, August 29-September 1, 2003
Stage 4 - September 1: University City Corners
Diet Rites a wrong
By Trudy van der Straaten
Despite treacherous weather Diet Rite's Kerry Soraci rode solo to claim victory in the University City Corners Crit, after being dealt an unfortunate card in the closing moments of Sunday's Giro. Soraci finished 30 seconds ahead of teammate Kori Kelly, who also finished alone, 30 seconds ahead of Saturn's Megan Elliot.
It had rained steadily throughout Sunday night and by Monday conditions were at best a constant drizzle and at times torrential downpours. A substantially smaller field of women lined up to race 45 mins and five laps on a 0.9 mile technical course with five corners, four of which are piled one on top of the other within 100 meters of the start, in a tight right-left-right-right combination, before a long straight which ends in a big sweep and a long downhill finishing straight.
Within a few laps Diet Rite, Team Basis, Saturn and ABD riders broke the field in two, with riders from local teams Maplewood and Big Shark maintaining presence in the lead group. Ten minutes later the rain was bucketing down so hard it caused what looked like mini-flash floods in the gutters and left large tracts of standing water several inches deep in the four-corner combo. Wheel-sucking was pointless as foul muddy water sprayed off the back of everyone's wheels. At this point Soraci, flying off a prime, charged away from the field, and despite chase-down efforts from Kelly Benjamin and Megan Elliot, was never coming back. A 15 second lead very quickly became 40 seconds as Soraci sought to put distance between herself and the field.
"I just didn't want to be in the pack on a day like this and sit on wheels and have all that water in my face so I went for a prime, had a gap and decided just to keep going. Because especially at that point it was raining really, really, really hard and I couldn't see. I thought it was safer for me to be by myself. Once I got out there I just wanted to stay out there," said Soraci, who eventually lapped the chase group.
With 10 minutes to go a late flat foiled Stephanie Hannos' breakaway attempts but with Soraci's win safely in the bag Kori Kelly decided to make her move.
"When I saw Kerry go out there I was really excited because this is one race she really wanted to win because this is a place she was from and she worked at the local tattoo place. So it was really exciting. I tried to work it so I was just blocking. We were hoping that she would lap the field but then it just started getting aggressive and that's when I looked for my move to get off," Kelly said.
In hot pursuit, Megan Elliot also managed to get a gap on the field. At this point the podium placings were pretty much decided. The field sprint was neck-to-neck between Benjamin and Hannos, with Hannos edging out Benjamin within feet of the line.
McCartney reigns in the rain
By John Musselman, www.stlbiking.com
Ugh! This was one very ugly day! You had to think it might be better to just turn over and go back to sleep. Riders arrived in their cars, windshield wipers going at full blast, stepped out to get completely soaked in a matter of seconds. By the end of the day 6 inches of rain would have fallen. The street gutters looked more like a scene out the recent movie "Open Range" where you needed wooden planks to cross the 8" deep rushing waters. At times, the rain would subside only to unleash it's furry again.
Bike riders from earlier races said they really didn't notice the rain after a while. "At least it isn't hot like every year" said another. One veteran master rider said he slowed up at the 1st turn to cross a deep stream of water and when he looked back up several of his competitors were already 25 yards in front of him. They had only gone the 1st 100 yards or so. He knew he had to ramp it up to race speed and damn the rain. He later finished in the top 3. There was little slipping as long as you stayed away from any painted lines on the streets. The rain has long ago washed away any oil or debris from the surface allowing the tires to grip better than you might think.
Everyone had to participate under the same conditions so it was a fairly even playing field. The University City course was made up of 5 turns to the right and one to the left as it weaved it's way down the loop lined with resilient spectators that were determined to see the race action. At a length of .85 of a mile this was the shortest course of the series and it would set the stage for who would claim bragging rights for the coming year. The majority of riders were not pros. Most racers were determined to gain valuable experience as they pitted their skills against new benchmarks for which they would be measured.
The women's pro race was another showcase for Diet Rite's Kerri Soraci winning as she slowly dropped the field. She had to show that the Giro's finish was a fluke. Teammate Kori Kelly took second and Saturn's Megan Elliot had to be satisfied with third place. All the racers were glad this race was over. The rest of the field finished at least a ½ lap behind.
The men's pro division race quickly increased lap speeds over what was established earlier. Better cat 2 riders displayed their best skills but the 7up/Maxxis team proved that they had the power to keep attacking and pulling away. Jason McCartney and John Lieswyn, worked together to lap the majority of the field. Just before the final 5 laps, Lieswyn showed up at the wheel pit to get another wheel. On the back of the course, out of sight, there had been some type of mishap forcing him and another racer to rider rush across the course swap wheels. One more lap and it would not have been allowed. The final outcome was not changed, It was a sweep for the guys in Green. 1st - Jason McCartney, 2nd - John Lieswyn, 3rd - Greg Henderson and 4th - Dan Schmatz. It was definitely a sheer learning curve for most everyone else.
Men Pro,1,2 1 Jason McCartney 2 John Lieswyn 3 Greg Henderson 4 Dan Schmatz 5 Robert Nordmeyer 6 Frank Dierking 7 Brice Jones 8 Jeff Schroetlin 9 Joshua Carter 10 Ryan Nenninger 11 Frank Pipp 12 Dale Suttle 13 Mike Kehrberg 14 Bennet VanDerGengten 15 Mike Lange 16 Charles Huff 17 Joe Spragins 18 Mark Southland 19 Jeff Hartman 20 Luca Fagundes Men 3 1 Steven Grife 2 Ulric DeYoung 3 Dennis Savitski 4 Sam Moore 5 Lance Sulzen 6 Andy Chocha 7 Ronnie Cookson 8 Doug Scrounce 9 Joe Williams 10 Steve Rouff 11 Eric Lambi 12 Tosh Yoshino 13 Bob Kron 14 Brian Lawler 15 Brian Shoemaker Men 4 1 Jon Randall 2 James Pirtle 3 Aaron Johnson 4 Anthony Dust 5 Carlos Garcia 6 Ben Beger 7 Yong Qi 8 Chris Foster 9 Geof San Anton 10 Jason Sciaroni Women P,1,2,3 1 Kerry Soraci 2 Kori Kelly 3 Megan Elliot 4 Stephanie Hannos 5 Kelly Benjamin 6 Stacey Bertsch 7 Ali McNulty 8 Liz Cazer 9 Heather Brice 10 Kate Aarhart Women 4 1 Tracy Huber 2 Julie Tatar 3 Megan Hottman 4 Jill Thole 5 Pam Hinton 6 Marilyn Cullinane 7 Rebecca Cato Men 5 1 Dave Breslin 2 Michael Rickey 3 Grant Bement 4 Richard Rickey 5 Carl Garrison 6 Shane Cotter 7 Mark Hunsaker 8 Jason Holland Masters 40+ 1 Gary Doering 2 Mark Swartzendruber 3 Lonnie Kennedy 4 Frank Kennedy 5 Frank Jakofchich 6 Greg Harper 7 Mark Gowler 8 John Fleckenstein Masters 50+ 1 Ben Thigpen 2 Jim McDonald 3 Phil Shoulberg 4 Brad Reid 5 James Meyer