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First Union Classic - 1.3

Trenton, NJ, USA, June 6, 2002

First Union series main page     2001 Results     Results    Past winners

Fraser triumphs in rain-hammered First Union Classic

By Tim Maloney, Cyclingnews European editor

A close, soggy finish
Photo: © Rob karman
Click for larger image

In a shortened, storm-lashed First Union Classic Mercury's Gord Fraser today eked out a narrow victory over Oleg Grishkine (Navigators) with Lotto-Adecco's young Belgian sprinter Wesley Van Speybroeck in third.

Just after the start of Thursday's First Union Classic in Trenton, New Jersey, police radios crackled with the news of a fatal accident on the course. A all- terrain vehicle driven by a teenager under the influence of drugs fatally injured a pedestrian. A section of the seven mile circuit that ran through downtown Trenton, the New Jersey state capital, was sealed off by police and officials of the Mercer County Coroners Office and as dark clouds roiled the sky along the Delaware River and heavy raindrops began to pelt the riders, race organizers Threshold Sports Jerry Casale and Robin Morton and Chief Commisaire Andy McCord had to make some quick decisions in a tough spot to save the race. McCord quickly neutralized the race and had the peloton and caravan return to the start/finish zone while Casale and Morton worked with their staff to re-route the course in record time around the site of the coroner's inquest.

Fraser and Hincapie
Photo: © Rob karman
Click for larger image

With time running out before dark and the weather worsening, the shortened First Union Classic got underway 45 minutes after the intended start time and was shortened to 8 laps from the original 13. Run under quasi-apocalyptic conditions in sheeting rain and strong winds, this was no race for the faint of heart. And Chris Horner of Prime Alliance was ready for the challenge. "We were riding hard for Jonas (Carney) today; at the beginning, our (Prime Alliance) whole strategy was to go hard, to catch the guys who were napping and the guys who didn't want to race. We were on the front for the first three laps."

Prime Alliance's strategy worked; their hard tempo in the driving rain on the slippy streets of Trenton quickly split the field in three parts and after two laps of the seven mile circuit were complete, there were 60 riders up front with a group of stragglers two minutes behind.

Despite a few breaks that gained at most 30 seconds, the powerhouse teams wanted to keep the race together for a sprint finish. With darkness falling and the deluge still at full blast, Horner and Ciaran Power (Navigators) attacked in the last two kilometres. Horner said after the race, "We got away coming out of the cobblestone section (on Front Street); we had the race won, it was over...but (Power) wouldn't touch his pedals. He just wouldn't go. We had a 300 meter lead...", explained the frustrated Prime Alliance man. But after all the work by Prime Alliance to bring their sprinter Carney into play, he just didn't have good legs today.

But lurking behind the break in the last lap chaos was Canadian Gord Fraser (Mercury), who had the legs and the smarts and seized the moment. In a sprint reminiscent of his dramatic rain-soaked sprint win in Stage 1 of the 2000 Criterium Internationale, surged to a solid win. "I had to cover Horner and Hincapie a lot today; those guys were so strong," said Fraser. "As a sprinter, you can't really rely on a bunch sprint in the rain and in the end there were two guys off. It was hard to see with the darkness and the rain. I knew that if I wanted to win I had to take a chance and go get them." Despite the shortened race due to the tragic and unfortunate pre-race events, the First Union Classic in Trenton once again went to the best sprinter du jour.


Images by Rob Karman/www.roadbikephotos.com

Images by Jonathan Devich/TheFastrack.com


1 Gord Fraser (Can) Mercury                   1.45.08
2 Oleg Grishkine (Rus) Navigators
3 Wesley Van Speybroeck (Bel) Lotto-Adecco
4 Ciaran Power (Ire) Navigators
5 Tom Boonen (Bel) US POstal
6 Robbie Ventura (USA) US Postal
7 Chris Horner (USA) Prime Alliance
8 Gorik Gardeyn (Bel) Lotto - Adecco 
9 Marty Nothstein (USA) Navigators
10 Soren Petersen (Den) Saturn
11 Jay Sweet (Aus) Saturn
12 Cristian Pepoli (Ita) Saeco-Longoni Sport
13 Antonio Cruz (USA) U.S. Postal Service
14 Igor Astarloa (Spa) Saeco-Longoni Sport
15 Brian Forbes (USA) Jelly Belly
16 Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel) Domo-Farm Frites
17 Oscar Pineda (Gua) 7UP-Nutra Fig
18 Thomas Gronqvist (Swe) Amore & Vita
19 Dave McCook (USA) Prime Alliance
20 Peter Rogers (Aus) iTeamnova.com

Past Winners

2001 Julian Dean (NZl) US Postal Service
2000 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Mapei-Quick Step  147.5 kms in 3.04.16 (47.00 km/h)
1999 George Hincapie (USA) US Postal        146.5 kms in 3.07.07
1998 Jan Svorada (Cze) Mapei-Bricobi        150.0 kms in 2.50.14
1999 Jay Sweet (Aus) ZVVZ-Giant-AIS

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