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Men’s Results: Stage Two

June 17, 2010

Stage 2 of Nature Valley Grand Prix Results in a Men’s International Podium
by Lyne Lamoureax

Speed and control with an international flavor were showcased in front of an enthusiastic and appreciative crowd at the Saint Paul (Minn.) Downtown Criterium on Wednesday evening for Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix.

Australian Hilton Clarke (United Healthcare p/b Maxxis) crossed the line first with multiple bike lengths ahead of his teammate Karl Menzies of Tasmania, Australia. Italian Luca Damiani (Kenda presented by Geargrinder) finished third.

“The boys waited all night and they rode perfect. Karl took me to the line and still got second, I’m so happy to be in United Healthcare,” said Clarke who joined the team only a week ago. Since then, he has scored two wins in his three races with the team. “I raced against the team and I know their leadout is so strong and the only person really beating their leadout has been me, so now I’m in the leadout it just makes it a lot easier for me and I can get them results.”

For American Scott Zwizanski and his Kelly Benefit Strategies team, it was all about control to keep the yellow leader’s jersey on his back. Straight from the gun, they came to the front to set the pace in the 40-lap race around the course in Downtown St Paul with its turns and brick roads. Their mission was simple, to keep the pace high so that no attacks would survive and to force a field sprint finale. Mission accomplished.

“My team was awesome today, we wanted a field sprint, we wanted to hold on to the jersey and we thought that was our best chance. They decided not to let any breaks go, they rode awesome, Bowman, Baj, Reid, Jesse, they just rode 30 great laps, they made so easy.” said Zwizanski.

Though that didn’t stop Adam Bergman (Texas Roadhouse) from trying his luck in the first ten minutes but to no avail. Bergman was later awarded the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider for his efforts.

With 30 laps to go, the first intermediate sprint caused some ruffles in the field when Australian Aaron Kemps (Fly V Australia), Clarke and Rob Bush (Kenda p/b Geargrinder) jumped to get those important time bonus seconds. But soon the field was all back together stretched out behind the green train of Kelly Benefit Strategies.

The same scenario with different players with 20 laps to go for the second intermediate sprint, this time taken by Russian Alexey Shmidt (Team Type 1) ahead of Argentinean Alejandro Borrajo (Jamis/Sutter p/b Colavita). Behind them, Zwizanski’s team was still controlling the peloton setting an average speed of 28 mph over the course.

With every second counting in the general classification competition, Cuban Luis Amaran (Jamis/Sutter Home p/b Colavita) took a flyer with 11 laps to go to make sure to cross the line first in the third and final intermediate sprint.

When the lap cards hit the single digits, the sprinter’s teams organized setting up their leadout train for the upcoming bunch sprint.

With seven laps to go, the UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis team took over the pace setting at the front of the field. Behind them, the field was single-filed as they navigated the twists and turns. Soon, with the sun setting on downtown Saint Paul, it was time for the finale. Clarke and Menzies emerged the first two riders out of the final corner with a crash slowing down the riders behind them. Clarke jumped out from behind his leadout man and put his head down to take the win.

With the help of his team, Damiani navigated the leadout trains throughout the race to take position for the final sprint.

On the podium following Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix: Karl Menzies, Hilton Clark (both of United Healthcare p/b MAXXIS) and Luca Damiani, Kenda Pro Cycling p/b GearGrinder. Photo by: Matt Moses Images

“The field was fast, those guys keep the field in all one line. it was actually easy to stay on the wheel when it goes so fast.” he explained. “I marked always the team, my teammates did a very job on the last lap.”

After Stage 2, there were no changes to the overall general classification. Zwizanski still leads with nine seconds ahead of Australian Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare p/b Maxxis) and 15 seconds on his teammate Zach Bell of Canada.

The racing continues with the Cannon Falls Road Race on Thursday evening. The 66-mile course winds through scenic Goodhue County before finishing on a circuit in downtown Cannon Falls. This race proved to be decisive in 2006, with small groups gaining minutes on the chasing packs in both the men’s and women’s races. Riders who failed to make it into these breakaways had no shot at the yellow jersey for the rest of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Will history repeat itself?


Women’s Results: Stage Two

HTC-Columbia’s Hosking Takes the Stage In Bunch Sprint at Saint Paul Downtown Criterium; Starnes Keeps Yellow Jersey
by Cynthia Lou

Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix, the Saint Paul Downtown Criterium, was held together by the teams with general classification hopes, resulting in a shuffling of the general classification via time bonuses as Alison Starnes (Team TIBCO) maintained the yellow jersey for one more day.

The race was strung out from the gun, with HTC-Columbia, Peanut Butter & Company Twenty12, and Colavita taking notable pulls at the front the first few laps.

A crash on the third lap found approximately 15 people in the neutral pit, including the yellow-jersey Starnes and several Team Vera Bradley Foundation, HTC-Columbia, Team TIBCO, and Peanut Butter & Company Twenty12 riders.

With the crash, chunks of the peloton struggled to bridge huge gaps. Eventually the pace eased up and most of the field regrouped. Some small breaks were attempted, but none stuck.

By the first 10 laps Peanut Butter & Co. Twenty12’s strategy for claiming the yellow jersey became apparent as Shelley Evans won all three sprint laps. Evans went on to take third in the stage and amass a total of 21 seconds in time bonuses. Though hoping to overtake Starnes for the yellow jersey, Evans landed shy of the GC lead by just 2 seconds off the lead.

Though most of the race was well controlled, the teams fought a messy last lap set up their sprinters for the win.

“We were lined up with three to go, which was too far out,” Evans explained. “We let other teams take control. I was just trying to move up and move up and never really made it far enough. You can’t win coming out of the corner on fifth or sixth wheel, which is what happened to me so I just chased in the sprint. I’m a little disappointed in how I did, but, tomorrow’s a new day and we race again.”

“It was really jumbled up at the end, all of the riders were really fighting,” said Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling Team) who took second on the stage. “Coming out of the last corner in second place, I just didn’t have enough to get to the line first.”

While Peanut Butter & Co Twenty12, Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling Team and Team TIBCO fought for sprint time-bonuses, HTC-Columbia took a different approach.

“Our strategy was exactly what happened – to let Chloe [Hosking] relax and wait until the final sprint and see if she could win,” said HTC-Columbia director René Wenzel. “We just wanted to go for the win, so it was a successful day.”

“Coming into the race I wanted to look after myself going into the sprint and I found myself in third place on Theresa Cliff-Ryan’s wheel, which is not a bad place to be,“ said stage winner Hosking. ”I was lucky enough to get a win. It feels really good to finally get a win under my belt this season.“

About the team strategy for the rest of the week, Hosking added, “We’ve got two really strong GC contenders and we’re confident that we’ll be able to get the time back on the girls who got the time bonuses today on the hills. Evelyn Stevenson and Linda Villumsen are two of the top climbers in the world.”

Former time trial UCI World Champion Amber Neben (Webcor Builders) continued her return to racing after recovering from a crash-marred season and was seen safely near the front of the peloton throughout the 1.4 kilometer crit course.

Stage 3, the Cannon Falls Road Race, boasts three Queen of the Hill competitions and one sprint points competition. Time bonuses of 15, 10, and six seconds will be granted first, second, and third place stage finishers respectively.

Heading into Cannon Falls, just seven seconds separates the top six general classification contenders.

Evans is 2 seconds back, while team mates Linda Melanie Villumsen and Evelyn Stevens (HTC-Columbia) are four seconds and five seconds back respectively. Ruth Corset (Team TIBCO) is five seconds back, and Alison Powers (Team Vera Bradley Foundation) is seven seconds back.

Chloe Hosking of team HTC-Columbia (center), took first place in Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix on June 16, followed by Theresa Cliff-Ryan (Colavita/Baci Pro Cycling Team) and Shelley Evans (Peanut Butter & CO Twenty12) who finished third.