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Wachovia Cycling Series

USA, May 31-June 5, 2005

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USPRO - June 5: USPRO Championship, Philadelphia, PA, 250km

Health Net leads American domination in Philly

Wherry takes stars and stripes and $40K win

By Mark Zalewski in Philadelphia, PA

Chris Wherry (Health Net)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Click for larger image

Every year American pros and fans talk about how the USPRO Championship in Philadelphia is their best chance to show the euro-pros that yanks can race. But in recent years, it has been the euros taking the wins in Philly with the US champion being decided behind. Not this year. Coming off a dominating spring, and an equally dominating Wachovia Series in Lancaster and Trenton, Health Net/Maxxis put the final stamp of authority in America, thanks to Chris Wherry.

Wherry attacked on the final climb up Lemon Hill to put a gap on his two breakaway partners, Chris Horner (Suanier Duval-Prodir) and Danny Pate (Jelly Belly-Pool Gel) and held his advantage the rest of the way home. "I just went -- I was pulling in to Lemon Hill so I wouldn't get dropped," Wherry said rolling to a stop after the line. "I didn't get dropped -- I freaking won! Woo hoo!"

Most of Wherry's teammates, already done with their work for the day, watched and cheered as he made his way past the feed zone the final times and again after he crossed the line. "My team is unbelievable -- they are so strong right now," said Wherry afterwards. "Health Net-Maxxis is just on. We said we were going to win every race here -- I thought it was a little high hopes, but we did it!"

Just as impressive as the performances by Wherry and Health Net was that of the U.S. riders, particularly Pate and Horner. Pate was responsible for the final selection thanks to a strong effort on the way out for the final large lap to Manayunk. "There were some attacks going on, and I just ended up by myself off the front," Pate explained. "I figured exactly what did happen would happen -- a group would come up and I would make the selection. Only two guys made it, and they were a little fresher than me, but they would have been fresher even if I had made it with them."

Chris Horner (Saunier Duval)
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

Horner also rode strongly, especially considering he has only been on the bike for three weeks since recovering from a broken leg. The veteran domestic racer, riding in Europe in 2005, knew he needed a strong performance here to even have a shot at making the Tour de France team for Suanier Duval-Prodir. Even though Horner did not win the stars and stripes, his performance here has given him confidence as he heads back to Europe. "I don't think we're seeing the form at it's best yet -- this is only my third race so it's impossible that it's my best," said Horner. "It will get sharper at Tour de Suisse and we'll see what happens there."

Health Net/Maxxis director Jeff Corbett, already riding high from the season so far, could hardly even dream of this result. "This is even better than Georgia last year," he said. "You go into a week like this or Georgia and you set your expectations, but last year was a dream that we never thought was in the cards. And coming here we knew we were riding well -- I saw at our mini-camp before this that we had good legs for this, but we didn't know how we would fare against the euros -- we were cautiously optimistic, but never..."

Defending USPRO champion Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) failed to make the early selection along with other race favorite Bobby Julich (CSC) and never saw the front again. Fast Freddy managed to take the field sprint forty-four seconds behind the winner for fourth place, and was still content with his performance. "It's tactics of the race," said Rodriguez. "Fifty guys went... I had no choice. Most of my guys didn't have the power to bring it back. I think I had my strongest USPRO, but that's the luck.

2004 US Pro champ Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon Lotto)
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

Rodriguez rode over to Wherry after the race to give his congratulations to the new USPRO champion, who was busy stating the obvious to the local press. When asked by a local reporter if it was his biggest win, Wherry replied, "Are you kidding me, oh my God! I won a race for my dad a few years ago and this is just another one for him. I always think about him -- he's always with me. My mom is going to be so pissed off because I told her not to come -- my sister is getting married -- oh man, she is going to kill me."

Wherry continued to take congratulations from his teammates and fans while explaining his plans for the coming week. "I'm just going to go home and relax -- let it sink in. It's going to be a week or so before it does... I'm going to sleep in this jersey every night until I feel it!"

How it unfolded

The twenty-first edition of the Wachovia USPRO Championship finally broke from the recent tradition of small breaks and field sprints. Over the Manayunk Wall the first time the field was strung out with Health Net/Maxxis setting the pace, led by Mike Jones. This caused a large break to form on the "fall off the wall" with thirty riders gaining a gap.

Henk Vogels (Davitamon Lotto)
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

But the combination of riders, amazingly, wasn't to the liking of the peloton. Jittery Joe's-Kalahari, Discovery Channel and Health Net/Maxxis all worked together to reel-in the break. More attacks were attempted by smaller teams, but none grew a big enough lead. The only beneficiary of these breaks was Seasilver's Adam Livingston, who racked-up numerous KOM points early in the race. Livingston knows the Manayunk Wall well, having won the KOM classification in 2000 and finishing second last year. "I love that climb, I live for it!" exclaimed Livingston. And Seasilver should love the result too. "We had the owner of Seasilver out here, and his wife -- so I think they'll be pretty happy with how the day went, with guys up in the break too."

Then the race outdid itself. An unprecedented break formed on the front and hit the gas. More than forty riders, with almost every major team represented, rode away from the field, gaining minutes per lap. With so many teams having multiple riders, the field sat back and watched the race, with favorites Julich and Rodriguez stuck with the fuzzy end of the lollipop. Only Jittery Joe's was left out of the mix and was left to do the chasing.

Contained in the break were Chris Horner and 2004 winner Francisco Ventoso, along with Saunier Duval-Prodir teammate Manuele Mori. "The guys rode great, Ventoso and [Mori] were the guys that drove the break," explained Horner. "I just told those guys to hop on the front and drive that thing as far away as you can. It was perfect because there was no stress for me getting over the climb. Fred and Bobby... well, you live by the drift you die by the drift."

Nearing the half-way mark of the race the gap was fast approaching seven minutes, with many riders taking turns at driving. In both the break and the field, weaker riders were getting dropping off on the climbs. With around 90km to the finish the break, now about as large as the "field" behind them, started getting twitchy. Coming off the Wall, Mike Sayers (Health Net/Maxxis) drove the pace even higher to combat the falling time gap, creating an advantage. Eventually Jurgen Vandenbroeck (Discovery Channel) joined him up Lemon Hill.

Bobby Julich (CSC)
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

Jelly Belly-Pool Gel and Saunier Duval-Prodir moved to the front to chase down the pair. Back in the field, CSC (with only one rider in the break now) pushed the pace, while up front, defending champion Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) sat-up on the approach to the wall, having done his work for Horner. The two leaders were caught and the break set up the Wall again, shedding even more riders as the temperatures rose to the upper 80's.

The lead group shrank even further with the bigger engines pushing the pace. Now only twenty-one riders made-up the leading group, and only twenty-eight in the main field. The lead group began to attack itself as riders began to realize that the moment of truth was upon them. Henk Vogels (Davitamon-Lotto), alone in the break with teammate Fred Rodriguez effectively out of the picture for the win, became very active. However, the well-known Aussie sprinter was unable to get away from the break.

Seeing one final large lap to Manayunk through the finish line, Danny Pate set-off on his decisive ride. The former U23 time trial world champion took his small gap and increased it to thirty seconds into Manayunk. Behind, the big players in the break were all trying to get away in order to join Pate on the front. Vogels, Horner, Ivan Dominguez (Health Net/Maxxis), Aaron Olsen (Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home), Carlström (Liquigas-Bianchi) all tried to get away in various combinations along Kelly Drive, but the snaking pack kept responding to each attempt. These efforts grew the lead to the field to more than two minutes, effectively neutralizing the race behind.

On top of Manayunk for the final time, Pate held a thirty-five second advantage. Behind Pate, team director Danny Van Haute was on the radio. "[He said] that it looked good -- that everyone was sitting up and I had a good gap," said Pate. "If I had had ten seconds I would have sat up because it would have been a waste of energy, getting over the climb. It assured me to be in the front group [over the climb.] "

More than that, Pate took his lead off the Wall, while a bridge attempt finally formed with Wherry and Horner. On the return to the finish, the two caught and passed Pate who was able to hook on and recover.

Into the finishing circuits, the trio of Americans had a minute to play with on the now chasers. Making the right turn onto Lemon Hill, three of Wherry's teammates had pulled out of the peloton to watch the final, and shouted with excitement upon seeing their comrade. With two to go, Horner made the first move on the way up Lemon Hill. Pate and Wherry matched it and the strategy began. Pate then gave an effort, again matched by the other two. "I tried to go at a good moment a couple of times, because Chris Horner really was a little more powerful than the two of us in the climbs, and we had to pick good times to go," explained Pate.

All three made multiple moves that were all covered, until the final lap. Approaching the right turn to climb Lemon Hill, Wherry advanced to get a good position over the final climb, knowing that he would be fine on the flats -- while Horner and Pate looked on. "[It was] all I could do," said Wherry. "I was going to pull on to Lemon Hill and just gun it over the top, save myself to get to the finish -- and those guys played around and they messed up. They let me go and I had some power on the flats. I was hurting over the climb but as soon as I got on the flat I didn't."

The final breakaway group
Photo ©: Russ and Nancy Wright
Click for larger image

The thought of being three kilometers from the finish must have helped the pain, as Wherry held on to his slight lead. Coming on to the finish circuit, Pate and Horner were glued to each other, with Pate feeling the effect of a hot and humid day. Pate punched himself in the right quadriceps in an effort to release the cramped muscle. "I just cramped right at the end," said Pate. "I was trying to release it -- I heard [punching it] works. It pretty much worked -- it didn't affect me."

With Wherry 250 meters ahead, the pair tried to manage the gap and each other at the same time. "Wherry was strong all day," said Horner. "That was kind of my tactic... Wherry, myself and Pate are all good friends and I was more worried about Danny because he was sitting on so much. I really made the kid work. So I thought if Wherry got out there, Danny would be forced to work with me and we could work even and I could beat him in the sprint. Danny wasn't sitting on but he was doing less work."

"Horner was definitely stronger than me," Pate admitted. "I wanted to make him pull me back up to Chris, because I was going to have to trick Horner to beat him. If I could have gone fifteen feet farther, it would have been perfect."

But the line always comes too soon for someone, and this time it was Pate and Horner. Wherry looked back, saw he had the win, and threw his arms in the air screaming. "Oh man, that was a hard day, a very hard day," said Wherry. "I never knew, never knew."

Of course, Wherry could not stop mentioning his team as being instrumental to his win. "They are the best -- we are so tight. They are my best friends, my family on the road. You can't ask for anything more, we are just going to keep doing it and doing it."

With this result, it is clear that U.S. racing is up to par, as Jeff Corbett explained. "I think these guys can tell you better, Horner and Freddy... Freddy said it the other day that he was getting top three in Europe and that we were riding well enough that if we were there we would be doing it too. I hope it sends a message to everybody that racing in the U.S. isn't second class, that we can be competitive with anybody."

The men's top three
Photo ©: Mitch Friedman
Click for larger image

And with this performance, some may wonder if this will punch the ticket to bigger places for Health Net/Maxxis. "We hope so, but as much as we'd like to go over and test ourselves, we never want to abandon U.S. racing," said Corbett. "We love it here and we want to help grow the sport, we always want to be present at these U.S. events, and make it grow to the point that the Europeans know how good it is and want to come over and see how good the Americans are... and not be surprised when we are!"


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us

Images by Russ and Nancy Wright/www.abbiorca.com

Images by Mitch Friedman/www.mitchophoto.com

Images by Daniel McMahon

Images by Don Varley/www.cquad.com

Images by Todd Leister

Images by Celia Cole/www.sportsshooter.com/celiacole


1 Chris Wherry (USA) Health Net - Maxxis                        6.01.16
2 Danny Pate (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
3 Chris Horner (USA) Saunier Duval - Prodir
4 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon Lotto                             0.44
5 Kirk O'Bee (USA) Navigators Insurance
6 Max Vanheeswijk (Ned) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
7 Mark McCormack (USA) Colavita / Sutter Home
8 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC
9 Greg Henderson (NZl) Health Net - Maxxis
10 Alessandro Ballan (Ita) Lampre Caffita
11 Manuele Mori (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir
12 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir
13 Ivan Stevic (Scg) Aerospace Engineering
14 Roger Hammond (GBr) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
15 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Health Net - Maxxis
16 Kjell Carlström (Fin) Liquigas-Bianchi
17 Garret Peltonen (USA) Advantage Endeavour
18 Dominique Perras (Can) Kodak Sierra Nevada
19 Chad Hartley (USA) TIAA CREF
20 Lars Bak (Den) Team CSC
21 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Insurance
22 Andreas Matzbacher (Aut) Lampre Caffita
23 Aaron Olsen (USA) Colavita / Sutter Home
24 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon Lotto
25 Jurgen Vandenbroeck (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
26 Fumyuki Beppu (Jpn) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
27 John Lieswyn (USA) Health Net - Maxxis
28 Ben Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
29 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC
30 Eddy Hilger (USA) Advantage Endeavour
31 Neil Shirley (USA) Team Seasilver
32 Tyler Wren (USA) Colavita / Sutter Home
33 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance
34 Patrick Mccarty (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
35 Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Den) Team CSC
36 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC                                     0.56
37 Jeff Louder (USA) Navigators Insurance                          2.51
38 Matej Mugerli (Slo) Liquigas-Bianchi                            3.28
39 Daniele Colli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi                            5.54
40 Emile Abraham (Tri) Team Monex
41 Ben Jacques Maynes (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada
42 Marco Marzano (Ita) Lampre Caffita
43 Glen Mitchell (NZl) Kodak Sierra Nevada
44 Charles Dionne (Can) Webcor Cycling Team
45 Geoff Kabush (Can) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
46 Allan Johansen (Den) Team CSC
47 Antonio Cruz (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
48 Alex Candelario (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
49 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home
50 Matty Rice (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
51 Tim Johnson (USA) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari                       11.17
52 Bernard Van Ulden (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
53 Gord Fraser (Can) Health Net - Maxxis                          13.04
54 James Mattis (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
55 Cameron Hughes (Aus) Subway-Express
56 Ben Haldeman (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
57 Chris Frederick (USA) Aerospace Engineering
58 Matt Dubberley (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
59 Peter Baker (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
60 Timothy Duggan (USA) TIAA CREF                                 14.19
61 Will Frischkorn (USA) TIAA CREF
62 Erik Saunders (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
63 Russell Downing (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
64 Paul Manning (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
65 Davide Frattini (Ita) Colavita / Sutter Home
66 Kyle Gritters (USA) Team Seasilver
67 Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Health Net - Maxxis
68 Mike Sayers (USA) Health Net - Maxxis
69 Tyler Farrar (USA) Health Net - Maxxis
70 Adam Livingston (USA) Team Seasilver
71 Lucas Euser (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
72 Nathan Miller (USA) Team Monex
73 Burke Swindlehurst (USA) Team Seasilver
74 Vassili Davidenko (Rus) Navigators Insurance
75 Evan Oliphant (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
76 Michael Lange (USA) TIAA CREF
77 Jason Bausch (USA) Team Seasilver
78 Hayden Godfrey (NZl) Kodak Sierra Nevada
79 Marco Righetto (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
DNF Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
DNF Sebastian Alexandre (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home
DNF Jason Allen (NZl) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita / Sutter Home
DNF Rashaan Bahati (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Chris Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance
DNF Stefano Barberi (Bra) TIAA CREF
DNF Colin Beardsley (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Micheal Beers (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Brent Bookwalter (USA) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Matti Breschel (Den) Team CSC
DNF Aaron Brown (USA) Nerac.com
DNF Josh Carter (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Clemente Cavaliere (Ita) Aerospace Engineering
DNF David Clinger (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
DNF Marc Collard (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
DNF Nathanial Cornelius (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Todd Cornelius (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Michael Creed (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
DNF Ari De Wilde (USA) Nerac.com
DNF John Delong (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Christopher Deluise (USA) Aerospace Engineering
DNF Wim Devocht (Bel) Davitamon Lotto
DNF Ryan Dewald (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Bart Dockx (Bel) Davitamon Lotto
DNF Thad Dulin (USA) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Pat Dunaway (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Evan Elken (USA) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Richard England (Aus) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Glenn Fant (USA) Team Monex
DNF Mariano Friedick (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
DNF Roberto Gaggioli (Ita) Team Monex
DNF Stuart Gillespie (USA) TIAA CREF
DNF Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Lampre Caffita
DNF Angel Gomez (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir
DNF Josh Goodwin (USA) Team Monex
DNF Ben Greenwood (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
DNF Oleg Grichkine (Rus) Navigators Insurance
DNF Curtis Gunn (USA) Team Seasilver
DNF Russell Hamby (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada
DNF John Hanson (USA) Nerac.com
DNF Rob Hayles (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
DNF Christopher Herby (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Todd Herriott (USA) Colavita / Sutter Home
DNF Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
DNF Adam Hodges Meyerson (USA) Nerac.com
DNF Jeff Hopkins (Aus) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Lief Hoste (Bel) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
DNF Ted Huang (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
DNF Andy Jacques Maynes (USA) Webcor Cycling Team
DNF Brice Jones (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
DNF Mike Jones (USA) Health Net - Maxxis
DNF Roman Kilun (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Russell Langley (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Bruno Langlois (Can) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Tim Larkin (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada
DNF Jesse Lawler (USA) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Victor Laza (Scg) Aerospace Engineering
DNF Ruben Lobato (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir
DNF Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) Team CSC
DNF Pete Lopinto (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada
DNF Trent Lowe (Aus) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Sterling Magnell (USA) Team Monex
DNF Caleb Mannion (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
DNF Samuele Marzoli (Ita) Lampre Caffita
DNF Nico Mattan (Bel) Davitamon Lotto
DNF Ryan Mckenzie (Can) Subway-Express
DNF Remi Mcmanus (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Karl Menzies (Aus) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Hugh Moran (USA) Aerospace Engineering
DNF Eric Murphy (USA) Aerospace Engineering
DNF Mike Norton (USA) Nerac.com
DNF David O'loughlin (Irl) Navigators Insurance
DNF Nathan O'neil (Aus) Navigators Insurance
DNF Jonathan Page (USA) Colavita / Sutter Home
DNF Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Liquigas-Bianchi
DNF Dario Pieri (Ita) Lampre Caffita
DNF Oscar Pineda (Gua) Nerac.com
DNF Frank Pipp (USA) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Cody Powell (USA) Nerac.com
DNF Jeremy Powers (USA) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel
DNF Daniel Ramsey (USA) Team Seasilver
DNF Ivan Ravaioli (Ita) Saunier Duval - Prodir
DNF David Richter (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Jake Rytlewski (USA) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Dan Schmatz (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada
DNF Brian Sheedy (USA) Advantage Endeavour
DNF Shaun Snodden (GBr) MG-XPower Litespeed
DNF Gert Steegmans (Bel) Davitamon Lotto
DNF Jonny Sundt (USA) Jittery Joe's-Kalahari
DNF Joshua Taylor (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Kevin Vanes (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Carlos Vargas (Col) Team Monex
DNF Francisco Ventoso (Esp) Saunier Duval - Prodir
DNF Devon Vigus (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Zach Walker (USA) McGuire Pro Cycling
DNF Kyle Wamsley (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF David Werling (USA) Nerac.com
DNF Jonathan Wirsing (USA) Snow Valley - Seal On
DNF Ryan Yee (USA) Team Seasilver
DNF Robbie Yost (USA) Subway-Express
DNF Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
DNF Scott Zwizanski (USA) Kodak Sierra Nevada


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