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Commerce Bank Triple Crown

USA, June 3-8, 2008

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Race 1 - June 3: Lehigh Valley Classic (Men), 136.8km/85mi

Complete live report

By Sue George with additional reporting from Mark Zalewksi

09:27 EDT    Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the first event of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown. The first event, the Lehigh Valley Classic, starts at 1:00 PM US EDT. We hope you'll join us for a summer afternoon of bike racing from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

12:59 EDT    They are playing the national anthem before the start. On the way to line up, riders were hi-fiving all the school kids who've come out to watch today's race. The weather is perfect today. Temperatures are in the 80s (degrees Fahrenheit) and it's sunny with a slight breeze.

13:00 EDT    Racers will do 12 laps of today's circuit for a total of 85 miles. They roll off!

13:01 EDT    There's no neutral start today, so the action should begin pretty much from the gun. Each lap is 7.1 miles - the course winds its way through the city of Allentown and Salisbury Township.

13:04 EDT    They roll out across the 8th Street Bridge. No one seems to be in any hurry initially, but then Rock Racing starts to push the pace on a small roller. Time to stir up some racing action.

13:06 EDT    Amore & Vita-McDonalds Pro Cycling Team takes a turn at the front. The peloton is pretty strung out. They are pushing the pace on a downhill section of the course - it's a nice twisty descent.

13:07 EDT    Oops, one rider almost collided with a moto.

13:09 EDT    The riders pass a high rent area. Signs say places are going for US$750K. They are passing by the Lehigh Parkway area - a pleasant park-like backdrop for the race.

13:10 EDT    They are still single file. Matti Breschel (Team CSC) has a bit of bad luck as he gets an early flat. The peloton is seeing plenty of action and turns onto 24th Street.

13:12 EDT    Riders do a hard descent and a turn onto Hamilton Street. If that name sounds familiar it might be because you remember it from being part of the course of the Tour du Trump (later known as the Tour DuPont) when it passed through Allentown in the early 1990s.

13:15 EDT    A Bissell Pro Cycling Team rider gets off the front. He's got about 20m as well as some company in the form of a Team Type I racer.

13:18 EDT    The peloton is all together again and passing Jefferson Elementary School, with lots of children out front cheering. The group passed through the finish at the end of lap one. There are no KOMs or sprints today. Our bunch has moved a bit quicker than expected. They are a minute up on the expected time.

13:21 EDT    Downtown Allentown has served as a venue for non-pro races, too. Earlier today, amateurs took to the course. And over the years, it's regularly hosted amateur and elite riders in criteriums.

13:23 EDT    Just before the elite men's race, the elite women got a turn on a shorter version of the course. Ina Teutenberg won the women's event while Laura Van Gilder. Van Gilder will have a ton of fans out cheering her this Commerce Bank week as her family hails from the region.

13:24 EDT    Two riders get a slight gap, but are caught. Looks like a TV moto may have gotten slightly in the way. We have our first abandon of the day - it's Daniel Ramsay (TIME Pro Cycling).

13:24 EDT    A group of 15 riders gets away. But they can't pull it together enough to start working and are quickly caught. They are back on 24th street now - on lap two.

13:26 EDT    A new group of 15 takes over a lead. They've got about 10 seconds. We're likely to see regular attacks as different teams try to launch their riders off the front. It will take just the right combination of riders to get away - especially as the course is relatively not that hilly compared to many the riders are used to racing.

13:27 EDT    Some riders attempt to bridge up, but in doing so, they bring along the field, too, and now it's all back together. And more riders give it a go - taking turns counterattacking.

13:28 EDT    Christain Meier is at the front for Team Symmetrics. He'll get his turn on live TV. The local TV station has come out for the day to cover the race.

13:30 EDT    14.2miles/70.8miles to go Two riders are off the front - one from Jittery Joes and one from Bissell. Some others are trying to bridge up as the group finishes off lap two.

13:33 EDT    We have three leaders off the front at 30 seconds: Aaron Olson (Bissell Pro Cycling Team), Brian Jensen (Team Successfulliving) and a yet to be identified Jittery Joes racer.

13:34 EDT    Our other rider might be Ben Kneller (Jittery Joe's). However, the trio's gap is shrinking. It's down to 12 seconds.

13:38 EDT    The field is all together again, but strung out as they race along the Lehigh Parkway. It's 82 degrees - seems to still be heating up a bit today.

13:40 EDT    Every lap the riders pass the feed zone near the end of their stretch on the Lehigh Parkway. Too bad they won't be able to stop and enjoy a picnic under some nearby shade trees! The good news for the racers is that it's not too humid - so if it does keep heating up, it won't feel too hot.

13:41 EDT    A BMC racer launches an attack on the right. But he's going on a descent so his chances don't seem to good. You never know though, his attack might spur some others into action.

13:43 EDT    Health Net - Maxxis and Jelly Belly riders are at the front driving the pace. The peloton is snaking it's way across the road. A TVA Tecos - Trek rider gives it a go.

13:45 EDT    Allentown is in the Lehigh Valley, and in fact, today's race course isn't far from the Lehigh Valley Velodrome in Trexlertown - a place where many local road and track racers got their start on the way to an elite career. It's just a short drive or ride west to get to the 333m concrete oval, which was built in 1975.

13:47 EDT    The racers are all over the road as they come past the start finish. They see three laps done and nine to go.

13:49 EDT    The Jefferson Elementary school kids have picked out their favorites for today. A sign out front reads "Good luck Colavita team". The Colavita team includes Alejandro Borrajo, Luca Damiani, Lucas Haedo, Gustavo Artacho, Luis Amaran Romero, Anthony Colby, Kyle Wamsley, Davide Frattini and Sebastian Alexandre.

13:50 EDT    That must have gotten them motivated. A Colavita rider is off the front. A BMC racer is chasing him.

13:53 EDT    Luca Damiani (Colavita-Sutter Home) is the lead rider off the front. Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing) and Michael Grabinger (Team Successfulliving) are chasing him.

13:54 EDT    Team Type I is chasing hard. They catch Michael Grabinger (Team Successfulliving). Jittery Joes launches an attack.

13:58 EDT    Correction on our duo left off the front together. It's Kyle Wamsley (Colavita-Sutter Home) and Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing).

13:59 EDT    Jason Donald (Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H3O) pulls a successful bridge up to the lead pair, giving us a group of three off the front. Though it looks like the field may catch them.

14:01 EDT    28.4miles/56.6miles to go The lead break is caught as they cross under the start / finish. They've finished lap four and see eight to go. Peloton is all together again.

14:03 EDT    Doing so many laps gives them plenty of chances to scope out the finishing stretch. Each lap they encounter a sharp rise, with about 1.5 km to go to the line. From the top of that rise until the finish, it's a false flat downhill all along West Hamilton Street. And today it seems like it will be a wind-assisted finish, too. That should make for a fast finishing sprint if they are still all together at the end.

14:07 EDT    After today's race, riders will get a one day break to recover. Then it's on to Reading on Thursday when the men will race 119 km or 74 miles. Of course, the most anticipated action will happen Sunday with the Philadelphia International Classic for the men and the Liberty Classic for the women. Cyclingnews will bring it all to you live.

14:08 EDT    Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling and Colavita-Sutter Home teams are at the front pushing the pace. The field otherwise seems sluggish.

14:09 EDT    Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Colavita-Sutter Home) attacks and quickly opens up 15 seconds advantage.

14:11 EDT    Our leader is up to 30 seconds. There is a crash in the feed zone!

14:14 EDT    Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's) is the unfortunate rider down in the crash. He's not getting back in the race and will be a DNF. We hope he's ok - no word yet on his condition. Looks like two or three other riders also went down, but they are back up and rolling afterward.

14:17 EDT    Alejandro Alberto Borrajo (Colavita-Sutter Home) has a gap that's grown to one minute. He's passed through the finish after lap five and is on the bridge, facing a crosswind on his own. Seven laps to go.

14:21 EDT    Miguel Martinez (Amore & Vita-McDonalds Pro Cycling Team) attempts to bridge, but he is unsuccessful. The school children are going nuts because one of their favorite team Colavita's riders is off the front. Alejandro Alberto Borrajo has about 50 seconds.

14:24 EDT    Tecos - Trek, Slipstream / Chipotle and Rock Racing are on the front driving the chase. There are nice crowds out today in pockets. It's a good turnout considering that most people are busy during the weekday with work and local schools are still in session.

14:29 EDT    Unfortunately, we've just discovered our start list was not correct. While we were right about it being a Colavita racer off the front, there must have been some last minute rider changes. In fact, it's Tyler Wren, not Alejandro Alberto Borrajo who is off the front. The poor rider is clearly thirsty and looking for some water.

14:29 EDT    Rock Racing is putting in a solid effort for the chase. A chase group is starting to form. Wren's gap is at 42 seconds. The field has him in sight on Hamilton Street.

14:30 EDT    Every lap, the riders face a steep climb. It's about half a kilometer long and runs from 2.0 km to go to the finish until 1.5km to go where the hill crests.

14:34 EDT    42.6miles/42.4miles to go We're just past the halfway point of today's race. Six laps down, six laps to go. A Team Type 1 and a Team CSC are working hard to close the gap. It's down to 20 seconds on the 8th Street Bridge.

14:36 EDT    Tyler Wren waves to the kids he's passing as he is caught by a small group of chasers. That group is then caught and all are together again. Team Slipstream / Chipotle is at the front.

14:39 EDT    Daniele Bennati of Team Liquigas was on our start list today, but it turns out he is only racing on Sunday in Philly. No doubt he could use a few more days to recover from the Giro d'Italia, which wrapped up just two days ago. Sprinter Bennati finished 70th overall in the GC after a grueling three weeks of racing in Italy.

14:43 EDT    Some riders are attacking and counter attacking. It's interesting that we're in Allentown today and Philadelphia on Sunday. Both locations have at time housed the Liberty Bell. The famous symbol of freedom was hidden from the British in Allentown during the Revolutionary war, but now it lives in Philadelphia. A replica still exists in Allentown, at the Old Zion Reformed Church, where the original was briefly stowed.

14:45 EDT    The riders slow going through the feed zone. One Colavita rider, Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home), rolls off the front and two briefly chase, but their effort is half-hearted and they sit up. Romero has 12 seconds on Hamilton Street.

14:47 EDT    John Carr of Nashville, Tennessee, and some others have been writing in to ask about Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's), who DNF'ed after an earlier crash. As far as we know, he is ok - just DNF'ed after the crash and not seriously hurt, but if we hear anything to the contrary, we'll let you know.

14:48 EDT    There are three chasing Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home) on the steep climb. They're at seven seconds. The main peloton is just a bit further back at ten seconds.

14:49 EDT    49.7miles/35.3miles to go Four come through the start/finish nearly together. They've finished lap seven. There are five laps to go. We'll get you rider IDs as soon as we can.

14:51 EDT    Robbie King (Rite Aid), Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing), Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis), and Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home) are the initial four off the front. Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team) makes the bridge up to give a group of five leaders with 10 seconds (assuming there haven't been any more start list changes we don't know about!)

14:52 EDT    Michael Friedman (Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H3O) and Alberto Curtolo (Liquigas) are chasing the lead group of five. They're just five seconds off the leaders and the main peloton is at 15 seconds.

14:57 EDT    One rider drops off the lead group. That leaves us with four leaders. They are followed by three chasers and then a bit further back, by the peloton.

15:01 EDT    We've got a lead group including Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing), Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis), Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home), Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team). Pipp is taking his turn at the front. At about 30 seconds back is our chase group of three riders. The peloton is at 50 seconds.

15:03 EDT    Our chase group of three, now at 25 seconds is Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team), Michael Friedman (Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H3O), and Alberto Curtolo (Liquigas). The pack is at 55 seconds. Our lead group of four is working very well together and at least so far, their effort is sticking more successfully than previous break attempts.

15:07 EDT    56.8miles/28.2miles to go The field is not just sitting back and letting them go. High Road and Slipstream are doing some chasing.

15:13 EDT    Jason Donald (Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H3O) appears to have a problem and drops back for a visit to the caravan. Meanwhile, Martin Kohler (BMC Racing) does a bike change.

15:18 EDT    Our three chasers have been reabsorbed by the peloton, so we're left with just four leaders. They've got a healthy gap of about one minute though it is dropping some.

15:21 EDT    63.9miles/21.1miles to go Jelly Belly is chasing with the main peloton. The team is represented in the break, so they are motivated to bring it back. The gap to the leaders is 50 seconds and the riders are passing through the finish. This time they see three laps to go.

15:23 EDT    Clouds have rolled in and the winds are picking up. What will make today's finish interesting are two features. First, there is the steep hill that goes for about 500m between 2.5 and 1.5 km to go. It's likely that hill will shatter the usual lead-out attempts of the teams if the peloton is together at the time. As they try to get it back together after the hill, the road will then narrow from four to two lanes with 250m to go to the line which is at the end of a false flat downhill section.

15:27 EDT    The leaders are trading fairly long pulls. Back in the peloton, High Road launches and attack before Toyota United comes to the front. Neither team is represented in the four-man break.

15:32 EDT    Our four leaders aren't the first break of today. Earlier, Tyler Wren was off the front solo. Wren is effectively a local - he's a Philadelphia native, and the 27 year-old also coaches some athletes in the area, including the University of Pennsylvania Cycling Team as Matt from Germantown pointed out to us. No wonder all those school children were so excited to cheer him on!

15:32 EDT    High Road is bringing the gap down slowly, but steadily. It's at 32 seconds and dropping.

15:37 EDT    Slipstream and Toyota United take their turn at the front. 25 seconds separate the four leaders from the peloton as they ride on Hamilton Street. Hamilton Street at one time was a famous local shopping destination. The Hess's department store, with its giant chandeliers, was headquartered at 9th and Hamilton. The store was founded in 1897 and made it almost 100 years. After being sold to a chain, it closed in 1996.

15:38 EDT    71miles/14miles to go After getting two laps to go, the break is well aware of their fate - that is getting caught. It's always interesting to see how the riders react. Two sat up immediately. Two others stay off with some chasers bridging up.

15:40 EDT    Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis) are the two Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team) who decided not to throw in the towel. Along with about eight or nine others, they are off the front with a 22 second gap.

15:42 EDT    The new break is Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team), Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (Team CSC), Bernardo Colex Tepoz (Tecos - Trek), Martijn Maaskant (Slipstream/Chipotle p/b H3O), John Murphy (Health Net p/b Maxxis), Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse), Glen Chadwick (Team Type 1), Svein Tuft (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team) and Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home). But they aren't working very well together. There is a lot of talking.

15:44 EDT    Jeffry Louder (BMC Racing) makes it across so now we have ten leaders with 30 seconds advantage. Chadwick, Tuft and Stevic are the guys doing the work as they approach the feed zone.

15:47 EDT    Despite their best efforts, the gap is falling as BMC and High Road chase. It's just 10 seconds.

15:48 EDT    The leaders turn onto Hamilton. When they pass the finish this next time, they'll see one lap to go. Three CSC riders are setting the pace at the front of the peloton. It's setting up to be an exciting finish - anyone could still win at this point.

15:50 EDT    There seem to be some riders content to draft and do no work in the break. That makes it less likely to succeed as the others won't want to tow them around for a free ride to the finish. Luis Amaran Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home) sits up - enough for him.

15:51 EDT    Servais Knaven (Team High Road) and Rory Sutherland (Health Net p/b Maxxis) attempt to bridge. The break is complete disorganized. They've got 500m.

15:51 EDT    78.1miles/6.9miles to go The leaders swing wide. Everyone is looking back. One lap to go!

15:53 EDT    After some dangling of the break off the front and plenty of confusion, we see two riders off the front with a slight advantage - about five seconds. They are John Murphy (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Glen Chadwick (Team Type 1).

15:54 EDT    They're all back together. Wait, Christian Meier (Symmetrics Professional Cycling Team) launches a counterattack. He quickly gains six seconds.

15:56 EDT    The chase is on. This race is a new event in the Triple Crown - so it'll be interesting to see how the finish shapes up. There is no historical precedent of a field sprint verses a break.

15:57 EDT    Meier is caught on a climb thanks to Toyota United and Slipstream's efforts. There's no rest for the weary though. Rock Racing counters.

15:58 EDT    Health Net Maxxis and Toyota United are at the front chasing. They don't want to let the Rock Racing rider get away.

15:59 EDT    The chase leads to the formation of a group of six riders, with about a five-second advantage. There's one Rock Racing guy and two Toyota United racers plus a Kelly Benefit Strategies/ Medifast racer in there.

16:01 EDT    Our leaders include Caleb Manion (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team), Kevin Lacombe (Kelly Benefit Strategies/Medifast Pro Cycling), Matthew Wilson (Team Type 1), Derek Burke (Pezula Racing), Daniele Bennati (Liquigas), Kirk O'Bee (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing).

16:02 EDT    The seven have eight seconds gap as they turn onto the final road, Hamilton Street.

16:03 EDT    83.8miles/1.2miles to go Down to six seconds, with 2km to go. They're just starting the steep hill.

16:03 EDT    The leaders are caught. It's all together on the climb.

16:04 EDT    Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team), Kirk O'Bee (Health Net p/b Maxxis), and Fred Rodriguez (Rock Racing) have a slight advantage with just over one mile to go.

16:05 EDT    84.4miles/0.6miles to go One kilometer to go. We'll see if the three can hold it.

16:06 EDT    Nope, they can't. It's Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-McDonalds Pro Cycling Team) unofficially taking the sprint to the line for the win.

16:07 EDT    Kari Menzies (Health Net p/b Maxxis) grabs second.

16:09 EDT    We're still waiting on official results. There's some speculation that our unofficial winner raised his arms too early.

16:15 EDT    Ok, we have the top three results for you: 1 Yuri Metlushenko (Amore & Vita-McDonalds Pro Cycling Team) 2 Kari Menzies (Health Net p/b Maxxis) 3 Brad Huff (Jelly Belly)

16:18 EDT    The Amore & Vita - McDonald's from the Ukraine gets the victory for today! That wraps up Cyclingnews' live coverage for today. Thanks for joining us and we hope you'll tune in again on Thursday, June 5 for the Reading Classic, which is the second of three rounds of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown. Coverage will begin at 1:00 PM EDT (local time). We'll also be live on Sunday, June 8 for the Philadelphia Classic beginning at 9:00 AM EDT.

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