Posted by Editor on 06/4/02
Clinger Takes First Union Invitational
Held on a seven mile, undulating and technical course around the town of Lancaster, the First Union Invitational kicks off the three race series, culminating on Sunday with the First Union US Pro Championship on Sunday, and typically indicates who the men will be to watch to make a bid for the US Championship Stars and Stripes jersey. Rarely in the US does a peloton of such deserved respect come together to duke it out. With teams like Mapei - Quick Step, Saeco, Lotto, and Domo Farm Frites in their home court, Saturn, Mercury, Navigators, Prime Alliance, Sierra Nevada and 7-Up all get a chance to test themselves against some of the best teams in the world.
The 91 mile, 13 lap race got off to an aggressive start with a group of six forming early and gaining no more than 50 seconds for the eight laps they were away. The group containing Saturn's Trent Klasna and Eric Wohlberg became five when US Postal's Antonio Cruz's mechanical cost him his place in the break and took him out of the race. Klasna and Wohlberg worked with Prime Alliance's Chris Horner and OFoto's David O'Laughlin to build the time gap. Slowly the group behind them disintegrated as the Mercury and Navigator Teams bore down on the group of five.
As the breakaway was brought back to the main group more attacks were launched until a big group of 28 formed. In it were most of the race contenders, including George Hindcapie and Fred Rodriguez. Saturn had three representatives with Mark and Frank McCormack and Tim Johnson. All teams were well represented and so the attacks began again with David Clinger (US Postal) and Chris Wherry (Mercury) detaching from the group with two laps to go. The two-some put 1:13 into the field of now 26 almost immediately and none of the remaining riders were able to come to terms with the two riders. As the individuals tried to come to terms with Clinger and Wherry, Navigator's Tom Leaper was finally able to establish a true gap, and was not seen until the finish.
In the final miles it was Clinger managing to gain a small advantage on Wherry, despite his gritted determination. Clinger finished solo, with Wherry in second and Leaper managing to stay away from a surging chase group for third.
The second race in the series is in Trenton, NJ on Thursday.
1. David Clinger - US Postal
2. Chris Wherry - Mercury
3. Tom Leaper - Navigators
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