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Golden Wheel Race - IM

Pennsylvania, USA, August 3, 2007


Wheel racing hits Lehigh

By Nathan Carrick

The corporate challenge podium.
Photo ©: Todd Leister
(Click for larger image)

The action was two-fold on Friday at the Fuji Bikes Golden Wheel Race featuring the Ondra-Huyett Corporate Challenge. A smattering of professional races led up to an exhilarating finale, while teams of corporate challenge riders representing businesses from around the Lehigh Valley vied for top honors as well.

Wheel races are common in Australia, but it's rare to see one Stateside. That's where the international experience of Velodrome Director Erin Hartwell and Assistant Director Marty Nothstein came in handy; they knew about the excitement of the event and brought it out to the Lehigh Valley.

After three rounds of two kilometre qualifying scratch race heats and a repecharge that saw Ryan Nelman (T-Town Express) sneak back into the final, the men took to the track again for a six lap dash for cash.

The pace was fast from the start since only riders who qualified in the two kilometre heats participated. With $50 on the line for the winner of each lap and $25 for second, attack after attack flew from the front until finally Darren Harry (Australia) took out the win.

Large crowds came out to see their co-workers
Photo ©: Todd Leister
(Click for larger image)

The corporate challenge, meanwhile, pitted 15 teams of six riders against one another in Italian pursuit-style races. The top six teams, after the qualifying rounds, were Mack Trucks, Rodale, Bicycling Magazine, Air Products 1, LCCC1 and Fuji Bicycles.

The corporate challenge racers were, for the most part, not professional athletes. Teams could choose one 'celebrity rider' for their team, but weekend warriors and cycling enthusiasts made up the vast majority. Their determination was clearly different than the business-as-usual attitude of the regular racers. Proud to just be on the track, maybe a little more nervous than normal, the corporate riders were likely pedaling on the brink of a dream.

That nervous energy may have causes the five rider pile-up half way through the men's five kilometre scratch race, but the race went on and Brad Ford of the Rodale team was unshaken. Ford rode strongly to win. In the final corporate challenge event, the six qualified teams competed in Italian pursuit-style races to determine the top spots.

Riding for fifth and sixth, the Rodale and Mack truck teams took the track. Rodale stormed out to an early lead, but Mack Truck's celebrity rider, Andy Lakatosh (T-Town Express), had a blazing last lap and melted the gap down to nothing by the final turn. Mack Truck took fifth by about a bike length.

Local favourite and sprinting powerhouse Liz Reap (T-Town Express)
Photo ©: Todd Leister
(Click for larger image)

In the ride for third and fourth, Bicycling Magazine's team was pitted against the Air Products 1 team. It was a local affair, as Bicycling Magazine and Air Products both have been long involved with the velodrome. The stokers for each team weren't exactly green either. Ray Ignosh, Bicycling's anchor, is a Friday night regular and a staffer when not wearing his chamois, and Bruce Donaghy, who finished up for Air Products, is a former Olympian and Lehigh Valley Velodrome Hall of Famer. In the end, though, Bicycling Magazine proved too strong and Ignosh crossed the line three lengths ahead of Donaghy.

In the match for first and second, LCCC 1 rode against the Fuji Bikes team. In blindingly bright fluorescent yellow jerseys, LCCC's ringer was Mike Beers. Liz Reap rode with the Fuji Bikes squad, but the team captain and stoker was Mark McCormack, the former road professional with the defunct Saturn team who now works for Fuji.

After pulling out to a substantial early lead, LCCC was behind by around six lengths when the two stokers took over. Beers wound up the pace and it seemed like McCormack was struggling, but it was going to be close. By the end, Beers had not only made up the six length deficit, but put an additional two lengths on McCormack and the Fuji Team to take the win for LCCC.

Darren Harry (Australian) wins the Dash for Cash.
Photo ©: Todd Leister
(Click for larger image)

As he and the team prepared for the podium presentation, LCCC team captain Parker Lessel said he loves the corporate challenge events at the LV Velodrome. "This is our fourth year coming out and we're tasting victory," he said. "I'm struggling with some knee injuries this year, but I still managed to pull my weight, I guess, just enough."

Lessel, who is the Athletics Assistant at Lehigh Carbon Community College, said it was easy to recruit people for the team. Four years ago the marketing department bought them the bright jerseys. "Maybe now that we have a win under our belt they'll splurge and get us some new uniforms," Lessel said.

The final two events of the evening were the professional men's and women's wheel race finals. Run as handicap events, riders start staggered around the bottom edge of the track. Mary Costelloe (ECV) was able to hold off a charging field to take her first win of the season. "It was the plan to work together," she said of her cooperative effort with Abby Brearton (Marian College) who took second, adding that she hadn't done a handicap race in several years.

Then the men took the track for their go at a handicap race. The action was largely at the back where the two Aussie teammates who have experience in wheel races, Darren Harry and Pete Dawson (Australia), were forced to ride from scratch to catch the other riders. About 80 percent of the riders bunched up into a hard-charging peloton after just three laps, leaving Harry and Dawson dangling off the back. But a Herculean effort by Harry to drag his teammate back into the action put Dawson about 50 metres off the back with two laps remaining.

Ryan Nelman (T-Town Express): tired, but happy.
Photo ©: Todd Leister
(Click for larger image)

In a blaze of speed, Dawson made contact with the back end of the pack as they got the bell for one to go and began working his way toward the front. The other riders, including Ryan Nelman (T-Town Express), were focused on the finish line ahead more than the Aussie storm brewing just behind. In the final turn, Nelman began to pull ahead of the other riders and crossed the line just as Dawson snuck in among the leaders.

Nelman took the win over Kiwi Simon VanVelthooven (New Zealand), while Dawson managed an impressive sixth. An exhausted Nelman said afterward that this was his first ever wheel race. "It hurts really bad," he said, drenched in sweat and still out of breath. "It was a great race, it was a lot of fun. But it was, second to Kilo, the hardest thing I've ever done."

Nelman added that he would race it again in a heartbeat.


For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Todd Leister/www.leisterimages.com


Men’s 2km Scratch Heats

Heat 1

1 Randy Smargiassi (USA) Gotham Cyclists                         
2 Andy Lakatosh (USA) T-Town Express                             
3 Pete Dawson (Aus) Australian                                   
4 Darren Harry (Aus) Australian                                  
5 Ben Barczewski (USA) T-Town Express                            
6 Kasper Jessen (Den) Oldense                                    
7 Simon VanVelthooven (NZl) New Zealand                          
8 Nathan Seddon (NZl) New Zealand                                
9 Jackie Simes (USA) PA Lightning                                
10 Ryan Nelman (USA) T-Town Express                              
Heat 2

1 Philip Cable (USA) Upstate Velo                                
2 Andy Kulkis (USA) Gotham Hensley                               
3 Keith Thorarinson (Can) Independent                            
4 Rodney Santiago (Pri) CCG                                      
5 Adam Stewart (NZl) New Zealand                                 
6 Ray Ignosh (USA) Gotham Cyclists                               
7 Tynan Farley (USA) Young Medalists                             
8 Jonathan Rawlins (Tri) Trinidad/Tobago                         
9 Mike Miller (USA)                                              
10 Josh Brown (NZl) New Zealand                                  
Heat 3

1 Bruce Donaghy (USA) Morgan Stanly                              
2 Richard Miller (USA) Breakaway Racing                          
3 Matt Dieffenbach (USA) Tri State Velo                          
4 Jonathan Chambers (USA) Gotham Cycling                         
5 Epes Harris (USA) Compliance Depot                             
6 Tynan Farley (USA) Young Medalists                             
7 Brent Moorehouse (USA)                                         
8 Chris Stern (USA) Salamander Racing                            
9 Dave Wells (USA) Van Dessel                                    
Corporate Challenge qulifying

1 Lccc1                                                      2.28
2 Fuji Bicycles                                              0.02
3 Bicycling Magazine                                         0.04
4 Air Products 1                                             0.08
5 The Queens Of Pain                                         0.09
6 Mack Trucks                                                0.13
7 Rodale                                                     0.13
8 Valley Preferred                                           0.13
9 Red Robin                                                  0.15
10 Vsas Orthpedics                                           0.18
11 Valley Preferred 2                                        0.20
12 Air Products 2                                            0.21
13 Good Shepherd                                             0.23
14 Fuji Women                                                0.26
15 Ondra-Huyett Assoc                                        0.33
16 SE Bikes                                                  0.42
Women’s Super Sprint

1 Laura McCaughey (Aus) Launceston City CC                       
2 Kim Geist (USA) Team Lipton                                    
3 Mindi Martin (USA) Plain Team Revolution                       
4 Cindy Lakatosh (USA) Tri State Velo                            
5 Ashley Kimmet (USA) Miya Shoji                                 
6 Elspeth Huyett (USA) Young Medalists                           
7 Veronica Martinez (Arg) JVR Sports                             
8 Mary Costelloe (USA) ECV                                       
9 Kathryn Poylycki (USA) Vortex Cycling                          
10 Dana Feiss (USA) Young Medalists                              
11 Juliet Earle (NZl) Papanui Cycling                            
12 May Britt Hartwell (Nor) YMCC                                 
13 Liz Reap (USA) T-Town Express                                 
14 Abby Brearton (USA) Marian College                            
15 Shelbe Eck (USA) Tri State Velo                               
16 Jocelyn Rastrick (NZl) Papanui Cycling                        
Men’s 2000m Wheel Race Repechage

1 Ryan Nelman (USA) T-Town Express                               
2 Jonathan Lewis (NZl) New Zealand                               
3 Simon VanVelthooven (NZl) New Zealand                          
4 Jonathan Rawlins (Tri) Trinidad/Tobago                         
5 Chris Ruhl (USA) Team Alliance                                 
6 Jackie Simes (USA) PA Lightning                                
7 Josh Brown (NZl) New Zealand                                   
8 Michael Miller (USA)                                           
9 Nathan Seddon (NZl) New Zealand                                
10 Brent Moorehouse (USA)                                        
11 Chris Stern (USA) Salamander Racing                           
12 Dave Wells (USA) Van Dessel                                   
13 David Sheetz (USA) Lehigh Wheelman                            
14 Mike Beers (USA) Rite Aid                                     
Corporate Challenge Men’s 3K Non-Qualifier Scratch Finals

1 Bradford (Rodale)                                              
2 Gary Riddell (VP1)                                             
3 Mitchell Cooper (VASA Ortho)                                   
4 Jerzy Michalek (AP2)                                           
5 Ken Knoll (Good Shepherd)                                      
6 Carlos Orlemann (Ondra-Huyett                                  
7 Mike Kazimir (VASA Ortho)                                      
8 Bobby Wooden (Red Robin)                                       
Corporate Challenge Women’s 2km Non-Qualifier Scratch Finals

1 Hannah Hydrick (Fuji Women)                                    
2 Sallie Urffer (VP1)                                            
3 Bianca Greco (Fuji Women)                                      
Women’s One Mile Final Record Attempt

1 Mindi Martin (USA) Plane Team Revolution                   1.56
2 Kim Geist (USA) Team Lipton                                    
3 Laura McCaughey (Aus) Launceston City CC                       
4 Liz Reap (USA) T-Town Express                                  
5 Ashley Kimmet (USA) Miya Shoji                                 
6 Mary Costello (USA) ECV                                        
7 Veronica Martinez (Arg) JVR Sports                             
8 Juliet Earle (NZl) Papanui Cycling                             
9 Dana Feiss (USA) Young Medalists                               
10 Shelbe Eck (USA) Tri State Velo                               
Men’s 2000m Dash for Cash

1 Darren Harry (Aus) Australian                                  
2 Pete Dawson (Aus) Australian                                   
3 Jackie Simes (USA) PA Lightning                                
4 Kasper Jessen (Den) Oldense                                    
5 Chris Ruhl (USA) Team Alliance                                 
6 Epes Harris (USA) Compliance Depot                             
7 Randy Smargiassi (USA) Gotham Cyclists                         
8 Keith Thorarinson (Can) Independent                            
9 Matt Dieffenbach (USA) Tri State Velo                          
10 Simon VanVelthooven (NZl) New Zealand                         
11 Rodney Santiago (Pri) CCG                                     
12 Jonathan Rawlins (Tri) Trinidad/Tobago                        
13 Adam Stewart (NZl) New Zealand                                
14 Richard Miller (USA) Breakaway Racing                         
Corporate Challenge

1 LCCC1                                                      2.30
2 Fuji Bicycles                                              0.01
3 Bicycling Magazine                                         0.02
4 Air Products 1                                             0.04
5 Mack Trucks                                                0.10
6 Rodale                                                     0.12

Men’s Minor Final: Elimination

1 Josh Brown (NZl) New Zealand                                   
2 Gui Nelesson (USA) Van Dessel                                  
3 Ben Barczewski (USA) T-Town Express                            
4 Michael Miller (USA) Team Alliance/Environmental               
5 Dave Wells (USA) Van Dessel                                    
6 David Sheetz (USA) Lehigh Wheelman                             
7 Chris Stern (USA) Liberty                                      
8 Ted Shepherd (USA) Young Medalists                             
Women’s South Mountain Cycles Wheel Race

1 Mary Costelloe (USA) ECV                                       
2 Abby Brearton (USA) Marian College                             
3 Ashley Kimmet (USA) Miya Shoji                                 
4 Dana Feiss (USA) Young Medalists                               
5 Kim Geist (USA) Team Lipton                                    
6 Veronica Martinez (Arg) JVR Sports                             
7 Laura McCaughey (Aus) Launceston City CC                       
8 Jocelyn Rastrick (NZl) Papanui Cycling                         
Men’s Fuji Bikes Golden Wheel Race

1 Ryan Nelman (USA) T-Town Express                               
2 Simon VanVelthooven (NZl) New Zealand                          
3 Kasper Jessen (Den) Oldense                                    
4 Chris Ruhl (USA) Team Alliance                                 
5 Keith Thorarinson (Can) Independent                            
6 Pete Dawson (Aus) Australian                                   
7 Jonathan Lewis (NZl) New Zealand                               
8 Adam Stewart (NZl) New Zealand                                 
9 Randy Smargiassi (USA) Gotham Cyclists                         
10 Richard Miller (USA) Breakaway Racing