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International Cycling Classic/Superweek - NE

Eastern Wisconsin, USA, July 11-27, 2003

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Day 10 - July 20: Bensenville Criterium

Lieswyn takes Bensonville

Lieswyn riding in the wake of the "Cuban Missile Crisis"
Photo: © Mark Zalewski

In Bensenville, Illinois, money produced speed as American John Lieswyn survived to win the Bensenville Criterium. Frequent primes produced an incredible pace on this flat course with little chance for riders to ease up for even a brief rest. An early break by the speedy Cuban, Ivan Dominguez and Lieswyn produced a 20-second gap, but it didn't last with the field pursuing all-out.

With 20 laps remaining and exhaustion beginning to set in, a large well-represented break formed and build a 40-second gap on the field. Overall race leader Viktor Rapinski, Schroeder Iron teammates Gordon McCauley and Pete Knudsen, Lieswyn, and US Postal rider Robbie Ventura all made the break. But with eight laps remaining Knudsen and Lieswyn made a perfectly-timed move. Their breakaway companions lost contact quickly and it came down to a two-up sprint with Lieswyn edging Knudsen at the line.

Viktor Rapinski of Belarus remains in firm control of the overall competition and Frank Pipp has a comfortable lead in the sprint points competition.

Lieswyn trains to win; Tillotson continues to dominate

By Mark Zalewski

Men Pro/1/2

A long, fast and varied race wound through this suburb of Chicago with cash being thrown out like candy. This is one of the "Super Primes" races of Superweek, designated such because $10,000 USD was given out solely during the race as primes, in addition to the regular prize purse. In fact, every lap had a prime with $20 USD going to the leader of each lap, on top of anything else.

The top pro teams didn't come with entire squads, but a few highlight riders from many were here. Series leader and defending champion Viktor Rapinski (Saturn) was clad in his race leader jersey. The young Frank Pipp (Athletes by Design) was next to him wearing his sprint leader jersey. Joining Rapinski from Saturn was the very quick Cuban Ivan Dominguez, referred to in the peloton as the "Cuban Missile Crisis" for his rocket-like speed in a sprint. John Lieswyn (7up/Maxxis) was ready to grab a few primes for next month's mortgage payment, along with his teammate Brice Jones. As usual, the local boys Robbie Ventura and Kenny Labbe were here representing U.S. Postal.

The Schroeder Iron and West Virginia teams were here with a few more numbers than the rest, which could prove handy over the long 100K race. Both teams have had positive results at this year's event, with Pat O'Donnell (West Virginia) winning a 6-up sprint a few days earlier in Manitowoc, WI. Rounding out the field was Superweek veteran Jonas Carney of Prime Alliance.

With dollar-signs in their eyes, the race went fast from the gun - and a sizable crowd was on hand to cheer the riders. Last year's event saw the heat index rise to over 100 degrees, but rain was forecast for this afternoon. As clouds rolled in the heat eased, but the threat of rain made everyone nervous. Luckily only a few drops fell, and the clouds eventually moved on.

Speeds were high and the 100+ field was stretched single-file for most of the day. The action on the course quickly produced breakaways. One of the more dangerous breaks contained Ivan Dominguez. It began with four, but soon Ivan assessed the situation and rolled off the front saying to Aaron Olsen (Schroeder Iron), "You and me, man." They quickly built a 25+ second lead on the field. Back in the pack, Frank Pipp was mopping up enough sprint points to keep his jersey safe and Viktor Rapinski stayed near the front to keep out of trouble.

Now, I am sure we all can agree that it is great to see a big crowd turn out for races - and nobody enjoys it more than the riders. But as with any large crowd at a race, you get all levels of race knowledge - even down to the person that doesn't know what a bike race is, let alone that he shouldn't be standing in turn one of the race course as Ivan Dominguez comes barreling towards him at 40+ km/h.

After colliding with the spectator, Dominguez rolled back down the main straight to the Pedro's neutral service pit, as Olsen continued on alone. A not-so-happy Ivan eventually collected himself and readied to rejoin the race in front of the field where he came out. However, Olsen couldn't hold the lead by himself and the field had swallowed him up by the time they came around again. Dominguez tried to get ahead of the hard-charging field and back to his leading spot, but to no avail.

The field came back together for another lap, but Ivan had a little aggression still to work out - so he attacked again, and brought John Lieswyn with him. The crowd cheered the hard-working Saturn rider as the two stayed out for a few more laps.

The cash register continued to ring with every lap, and riders took turns rolling off the front to try their luck. Finally, a large break formed that was able to cooperate enough to put a 40 second gap on the field. Also, the fact that it contained overall race leader Rapinski, Schroeder Iron's Gordon McCauley and Pete Knudsen, John Lieswyn, U.S. Postal's Robbie Ventura and seven others meant that many in the field would not be chasing.

As the laps counted down the primes counted up, with $100 USD or more being offered on a single lap (plus the $20 USD for every lap meant $120 USD). The break at the front rolled along with Lieswyn looking anxious. "I could see the break was fading - Viktor was tiring," said Lieswyn. "So I attacked after one of the primes and got a gap. I knew someone would come with me - one of the Schroeder Iron guys probably, so I waited. Then Pete [Knudsen] came up to me."

"With so many races in a row, it favors rider who are aggressive rather than a rider who is just good," said Knudsen. "Everyone had been trying to initiate [moves] all day - when John went off the front I saw that I had a gap too, so I held it and made it up to him."

The two riders rode away from the faltering break and built enough of a lead to insure a top-two finish. As the drama at the front played out, the action in the pack was heating up as well. Each lap saw the primes increase, $100, $200, $300 and finally $500 for the bell-lap. Jonas Carney snatched a $200 prime, but West Virginia's Pat O'Donnell out sprinted everyone for the biggest prime of the day on the bell-lap.

Lieswyn and Knudsen came into the final stretch alone and didn't slow down. The Schroeder Iron rider tried to hold-off Lieswyn by keeping the speed high through the turn, but the veteran sprinter and recent Tour de Beauce winner had the kick.

"These races have been the fastest I have seen in ten years!" Lieswyn said after catching his breath. "I'm using [Superweek] to get my fitness back for Altoona - I took a week off after Beauce, which looking back may not have been a good idea."

It doesn't seem to have slowed him down too much, though.

Viktor Rapinski maintains his overall lead in the series - am even more comfortable lead since 2nd place Paul Martin (West Virginia) is headed to the Wendy's International Cycling Classic in Ohio next week. Frank Pipp also hangs on to his red sprinter's jersey, with an equally comfortable lead.

Women Open

Tillotson riding in the pack... but not for long
Photo: © Mark Zalewski

You can't stop her - you can only hope to contain her... or be on her wheel when she drops the hammer! In another strong performance, local Chicago-area rider Sarah Tillotson (Athletes by Design) notched another solo-victory. With the help of her teammate Kelly Benjamin, the two were able to ride their race on their terms.

"I was working for Kelly today," said Tillotson of her sprint-savvy teammate. "With two laps to go I gave it a hard effort [on the front] so that someone would chase - but I got a gap and I was told to give it my all."

Even though Kelly was the designated sprinter and the team was working to lead her out, the race dynamics changed when nobody could stay with Tillotson off the front. "It was better for us as a team that Sarah ended up getting away," said Benjamin. If she had waited to lead me out we would have gotten first and maybe twentieth - but this way we got first and third!"

Tillotson, who rode away from the field two weeks ago at Four Bridges of Elgin for the second year in a row, hopes to have more strong performances in the coming weeks as she tries to make a career racing. It should be interesting to see what she does at Downer's Grove in August when the big guns arrive, and come out shooting.


Images by Mark Zalewski/


1 John Lieswyn (7Up/Maxxis)
2 Pete Knudsen (Schroeder Iron)
3 Emile Abraham (Aerospace Engineering)
4 Robbie Ventura (USPS)
5 Kasper Klostergaard Larsen Glud
6 Gordon McCauley (Schroeder Iron)
7 Viktor Rapinski (Saturn)
8 Nicholas Reistad (IS Corp)
9 Josh Seldeman (Krystal)
10 Frank Travisto (Aerospace Engineering)
11 Mat Stephens (Gulf Coast)
12 Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance)
13 Timmy Lefebvre (Jet Fuel)
14 Karel Vereecke (Soenens-Germond)
15 Jurgen Van (Loocke)
16 Gustavo Carillo (Bianchi/Grand Performance)
17 Jay Moglia (NCVC/Edge)
18 Nick Kiernan (Mathis Bros.)
19 Jeremiah Wiscovitch (SC Velo)
20 Steve Tilford (Bikesource)
21 Philip Vereecke (Soenens-Germond)
22 Jeffrey Hartman (Big Shark)
23 Jason Klikna (Sierra Nevada)
24 Buck Miller (Jet Fuel)
25 Gustavo Artacho (Colativa-Bolla)
1 Sarah Tillotson (ABD)
2 Magen Long
3 Kelly Benjamin (ABD)
4 Lynn Gaggioli
5 Sheba Farrin
6 Jennifer Purcell
7 Emily Gloeckner
8 Rachel Couch
10 Brooke O'Connor
11 Kerry Cohen
12 Jacqueline Kurth
13 Laurel Green
14 Sara Barber
15 Elizabeth Morse
16 Deborah Durand
17 Louise Laganiere
18 Kathy Fortin
19 Shawn Heidgen
20 Barbara Sollars
21 Christine White
22 Anrea Ratkovic
23 Julie Tatar
24 Catherine Burnham
25 Erica Lanser
26 Rebecca Loney
27 Anne Meyer
28 Catherine Burnham (ABD)
Senior 3
1 Joe Stephens
2 Paul Knox
3 Robert Krow
4 Robert Quinn
5 Brian Bruggeman
6 Eric Lambi
7 Jason Mauer
8 Tim Sewain
9 Joel Charles
10 Jack Nielsen
11 Aaron Beardsley
12 Rob Brugman
13 Peter Carlos
14 Nate Brikmeier
15 Adam Lesniarowise
16 Rich Smott
17 Shawn Thornton
18 Ernesto Ramirez
19 Will Thompson
20 Steve Rowntree
Senior 4/5
1 Brandon Correia
2 Brad Pearson
3 Billy Dwyer
4 Tim Woodcock
5 Marc Taylor
6 John Wrycza
7 Ted Hayden
8 Tim Henry
9 Skip Fotland
10 Josh Hanson
11 Alan Ziolkowski
12 Jeremy Musson
13 Aaron Vogel
14 Brandon Antonievicz
15 Matt Miller
16 Bob Meinig
17 Mike Stevens
18 Jeff Angstadt
19 Andy Walton
20 Dan Lionberg
21 TBC
22 Benjamin Blander
23 Andrew Meador
1 John Wike
3 Michael Heagney
4 Paul Nilson
5 Todd Hancock
6 Rory McAdams
7 Jason Swiatlowski
8 Greg Springbon
9 Tim Elebaut
10 Paul Swinand
11 Dennis Guikema
12 Dave Macelletti
13 Aaron Johnson
14 Steve Chapin
15 Lenny Clapp
16 Eric Forrester
17 Dan Verner
18 Greg Beittler
19 Billy Jones
20 Ron Stein
1 Michael Carro
2 John Van
3 David Polin
4 Todd Sanders
5 Butch Stinton
6 Chris Black
7 Scott Odell
8 David Worthington
9 Eugene Macken
10 TBC
11 Fred Hoblit
12 Mark McGeen
13 Bill Ochowicz
14 John Handlogten
15 Anthony Settel
16 Randy Warren
17 John Wagenaar
18 TBC
19 John Fleckenstein