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USPRO Criterium Championship - 1.3/NE
Chicago, USA, August 17, 2003
USCF Elite Men's National Criterium Championship
Junior Norris beats hard-charging elite field
By Mark Zalewski
The Elite criterium nationals came down to a field sprint this afternoon in Downer's Grove and the man into turn seven of eight first was 18 year-old Keith Norris from the Aerospace Engineering team. Norris was able to create a five bike-length gap in the small stretch before the last turn, and held the advantage in front of a hard charging field.
The last junior rider to win the Senior Men's Elite Crit. Championships was in 2000, when the then 18 year-old Rahsaan Bahati, riding for Mercury, surprised everyone. Bahati, now riding for Saturn, watched the finish waiting for his later USPRO race.
How it unfolded
Many riders were itching to reduce the large field down with breaks off the front. Among the most combative were Dan Larson (Cycle Science) taking around seven laps at the front with a solo effort and a number of Snow Valley riders making sure their team was represented in every move. In fact, Snow Valley controlled most of the race, both in the breaks and covering at the front of the field.
The breaks flew off the front of this 120+ field from the first few laps. Everyone knew the early moves wouldn't last on this tough course, but nobody wanted to take the chance with the Stars & Stripes jersey on the line.
Later on in the race Dan Larson was able to roll of the front, and built quite a lead on the pack. At one point he was around the corners ahead of the field - and as they say, "out of sight, out of mind." He was able to stretch out his lead over seven laps, before Snow Valley turned on the juice and brought him back.
Other breaks went with such prominent riders as Frank Pipp (ABD), and numerous Snow Valley members - usually more than one. Scott Zwinzanski has his hand in more than a few moves at the front, and eventually went off the front alone towards the end of the race. With seven laps to go, Zwinzanski had a substantial lead on the field, and most of the other team managers got on their radios telling their workers to chase, and chase hard.
That signaled the end for Zwinzanski as the pace jumped a few notches and he was caught with only four laps to go. With the field back together, the strategies began to form. Riders were snaking across the straight-aways trying to get position. With one lap to go, every rider knew that a good spot into turn seven would make the difference on the finish line.
"I tried to move up as fast as possible without killing myself, which is pretty dang hard to do," said Brad Huff of Mercy-Cannondale. "They just opened up a gap on the outside just enough - from there I just tried to throttle it as much as I could. I attacked going into the last turn and stayed seated - I hammered as hard as I could and held them off, but I didn't get the guy right in front of me."
Keith Norris was that guy. "I was just jumping around - riding my race," said Norris. "I was third the whole last lap and I jumped through a gap in the second-to-last turn - I jumped pretty hard through there and just kept going."
Norris exploited the hair-sized gap to the fullest extent, and created that winning gap. If the finish line had been 50 meters further, it might have been a different result, but Norris played his cards right and is now able to wear the coveted jersey for the next year. "I had no plans coming into the race, except maybe a top-ten. I wanted to go for the mid-race prime - I was feeling good and wasn't fatigued at all. At that point I wasn't concerned about the finish - I just wanted to win the $500, and the worry about the rest later!"
Images by Mark Zalewski/showchoir.net
1 Keith Norris (Aerospace Engineering) 2 Charles Huff (Mercy-Canondale) 3 Jon Wirsing (Snow Valley) 4 Dean LaBerge (Lombardi Sports) 5 Pete Hanna (Bianchi-Grand Performance) 6 Jason Waddell (Mathis Brothers) 7 John Wike (Labor Power) 8 Gregg Medinilla (Monex) 9 Steve Tilford 10 Ainslie MacEachran (AST) 11 Frank Pipp 12 Jason Snow 13 Josh Carter 14 Brian Schaning 15 Eric Brownell 16 Michael Zingaro 17 Ian Dille 18 Scott Edge 19 Brian Sheedy 20 John Murphy 21 Aaron Quesnell 22 Dale Suttle 23 John Puffer 24 Chandler Weeks 25 Rory McAdams 26 Chris Hipp 27 Nathan Mitchell 28 Michael Kehrbeig 29 Boyd Johnson 30 Todd Cornelius 31 Steve Mlujeak 32 Daniel Larson 33 Matt Sadauchas 34 Rich Harper 35 Andrew Clark 36 Joey Spragins 37 Joby Siciliano 38 Todd Yezefski 39 Josh Seldman 40 Kurt Fletcher 41 Karim Abdelkader 42 Luca Fagundes 43 Chris Frederick* 44 Todd Scheske 45 Ryan Nenninger 46 Erik Tomlinson 47 Michael Lange 48 Jon Stierwalt 49 Franklin Dierking 50 Cody Hall 51 Mike Voigt 52 Ryan Gamm 53 Chuck Coyle 54 Doug Greek 55 Zack Martin 56 Ryan McKinney 57 Imanol Ayestakan 58 Chad Gibson 59 Keith Leonard 60 Matt Bromen 61 Benjamin Weaver 62 Josh Kerkhof 63 Stephen Spencer 64 John Dapkus 65 Scott Zwizanski 66 Micahel Busa 67 Ian Stuart 68 Steven Muhle 69 Cameron Holland 70 David Richter 71 Billy Masterson 72 Jonathan Atkins 73 Chris Foster 74 Ed Beamon 75 Chris Knetsche 76 77 Chris Tirone 78 Tony Scott 79 Todd Hancock 80 Jeff Schroetlin 81 Michael Feske 82 Jonathan Dechau 83 Travis Hutchinson 84 John Semmelhack 85 Mark Swartzendruber 86 Christian Foster 87 Danny Kaukola 88 Brian Wire 89 Aaron Smathers 90 Tim Reinhart 91 Christopher Hulse