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McLane Pacific Cycling Classic - NE
California, USA, March 13-14, 2004
Stage 1 - March 13: Downtown Grand Prix, 64/51.2km
Pic the winner, three for Fraser
By Kristy Scrymgeour and Rob Karman
Genesis Scuba backed up their early season criterium form by taking the win in the Downtown Grand Prix in Merced today. A couple of weeks ago it was Laura Van Gilder who won the sprint finish in the criterium at Valley of the sun, but today it was US Criterium champion Tina Pic, proving the teams strong sprint finish. In the men's race it was Health Net with Gord Fraser taking the win in a bunch sprint for the third year in a row.
On a beautiful California day and on a fast L shaped course on dead flat roads, the race was reportedly faster than previous years with the field aggressive from the start. Attacks and counter attacks went all day, but only one break succeeded in getting a significant gap. Inititiating the break was Lyne Bessette (Quark) with Suzanne Sonye (Helen's Trek VW) helping to drive it.Also in the break were two Genesis Scuba riders, and one from each of the Webcor, Basis and La Grange teams.
The break was reeled in with 10 laps to go and the race eventually came down to a bunch sprint on the wide finishing straight. The Quark team set the pace in the last three laps gearing up to lead out their sprinter Sarah Uhl, however Pic was too quick and came around to take the win from Uhl and Nicole Friedman (Team Basis).
Pic was smiling as usual at the end of the race and explained the finish when Cyclingnews caught up with her. "We really just played off the Quark lead out," she said. We tried to get out lead out together but with the crash near the end we didn't get it together. I came around the last corner on the inside and Nicole [Friedman] started to go, so I jumped on her wheel and was able to get around her."
Unfortunately on the start line with two laps remaining there was a crash involving quite a few of the girls from Webcor. Nobody is reported hurt.
In the men's event a similar race developed. There were many attempted breakaways, the longest being two laps, but the race was destined to become a bunch sprint. In the final few laps it was Health Net on the front getting the lead out going for Fraser, but they were swamped by the Jelly Belly train who were aiming at getting Jonas Carney up there. Chris Horner from Webcor was also bringing his teammate Charles Dionne up to the front, but a pothole distracted Dionne and finally it was Fraser who was able to come around and take the win from Carney and Juan Jose Haedo (Colavita Olive Oil).
Fraser was happy to defend his title for his first race since Tour of Langkawi. He commented that "the four weeks since Langkawi had really caused him to lose the race fitness in his legs" and he knew it wasn't going to be easy against the other guys who had been racing in the local crits in the past few weeks.
Tomorrow riders will hit the road for the 120mile (95 miles for the women) Foothills road race. Last year this race was won by Chris Horner in the men's and Manon Jutras in the women's event. This year the race starts on the corner of Keyes and Olsen roads which is a change from previous years.
Sponsored by McLane Pacific, distributors of groceries in the United States, the atmosphere was buzzing in Merced. A big fair is going on downtown and McLane Pacific semi-trailers are conveniently and appropriately blocking of the streets for the race.
Images by Rob Karman/www.roadbikephotos.com
Pro/1 Men 1 Gord Fraser (Health Net) 2 Jonas Carney (Jelly Belly) 3 Juan Jose Haedo (Colavita Bolla) 4 David McCook (McGuire Pro Cycling) 5 Charles Dionne (Webcor Cycling Team) 6 Mike Sayers (Health Net) 7 Ivan Dominguez (Colavita Bolla) 8 Nieko Biskner (Ofoto - Lombardis) 9 Dean LaBerge (GS Lombardi) 10 Scott McKinley (USPS) 11 Sebastian Alexandre (Colavita Bolla) 12 Sterling Magnell (Sierra Nevada) 13 Roberto Gaggioli (Team Monex) 14 Alex Candelrio (Jelly Belly) 15 Trent Klasna (Sierra Nevada) 16 Chris Horner (Webcor Cycling Team) 17 Jason Bausch (Ofoto - Lombardis) 18 Eirc Wohlberg (Sierra Nevada) 19 Frank Pipp (Endeavour Cycling Team) 20 Neil Shirley (Team Seasilver) 21 Timothy Larkin (Ofoto - Lombardis) 22 Mark McCormack (Colavita Bolla) 23 Patrick Briggs (Red Edge Cycling) 24 Jackson Stewart (Ofoto - Lombardis) 25 Chris Gruber 26 Todd Terlecki (Giant Factory Team) 27 Bryan Smith (Endeavour Cycling Team) 28 Dick Copeland (Palace Cycling Team) 29 Nathan Mitchell (TIAA CREF) 30 Agretti Sheldrake (TIAA CREF) 31 Nick Reistad (Endeavour Cycling Team) 32 Will Frischkorn (Colavita Bolla) 33 David Fuentes (McGuire Pro Cycling) 34 NA 35 Chris Hipp (Labor Power) Pro/1/2 Women 1 Tina Pic (Genesis Scuba) 2 Sarah Uhl (Quark Cycling Team) 3 Nicole Freedman (Team Basis) 4 Bridget Evans (Ffast) 5 Laura Van Gilder (Genesis Scuba) 6 NA 7 Magali LeFloch (Quark Cycling Team) 8 Gina Grain (Victory Brewing) 9 Magen Long (OBRU) 10 Lynn Gaggihi 11 Laura Downey (Velo Club La Grange) 12 K Maher (Team Basis) 13 Cheryl Roth (Helen's Trek / VW) 14 Rook Campbell (Genesis Scuba) 15 Betsy Bloom (Velo Club La Grange) 16 Kristin Drumm (Morgan Stanley) 17 Brenna Wolford 18 Emma Rickards (Victory Brewing) 19 Heather Albert 20 Iona wynter (Genesis Scuba) 21 Yukie Nakamura (Webcor Builders) 22 Sandy Espeseth (Victory Brewing) 23 Cynthia Carroll (Dewar's) 24 Helene Drumm (Morgan Stanley) 25 Cyrstal Yap (9Th & 9th) 26 Melissa Sanborn (Wells Fargo) 27 Kell Benjamin (ABD Cycling Team) 28 Cynthia Mommsen (Olypmic Club) 29 Christine Thornburn (Webcor Alto Velo) 30 Trish Bell (Team Tailwinds) 31 Catherine Powers (Velo Club La Grange) 32 Johanna Buick (Victory Brewing) 33 Audrey Lemieux (Quark Cycling Team) 34 Nicole Demars (Victory Brewing) 35 Lyne Bessette (Quark Cycling Team) 36 Nicole Brandt (Velo Club La Grange) 37 NA 38 NA 39 Michelle Beltran 40 Maggie Shirley (Genesis Scuba) 41 Amy Moore (Quark Cycling Team)