Posted by Editor on 04/17/98
Knickman, Hughes Win Brownsville Road Race, Take Willamette Lead
(courtesy Frank Stanley, USA Cycling)
EUGENE, Ore. -- You couldnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t have asked for better conditions or more excitement from the thrilling second stage of the Mercury Tour of Willamette Thursday. Those conditions produced two very different races.
In the menÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s event, a small group of racers broke away unusually early in the race and held off the rest of the pack over two grueling climbs and for more than100 miles.
"We went from the first mile of the race," said Roy Knickman (Mercury) of the five riders who got out front early and stayed away. Of the five, it came down to Knickman out-sprinting Norm Alvis (Saturn) to win ThursdayÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s Brownsville Road Race and move into the top spot in the overall standings.
"It was a strange move tactically because we werenÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t the designated leaders, none of us were," Knickman said. "It was a big chess game out there. We rolled to an eight-minute lead and then they started racing behind us. And we were waiting for them to get close, but it was very cat-and-mouse."
As the race progressed the eight-minute gap got smaller, but the rest of the peloton never caught up. The five riders in the breakaway dueled among themselves, but by the end, only Knickman and Alvis were left.
"It was just a race of attrition within our group," Knickman said. "We hit the hill the first time and we lost one rider, and then on the descent we lost another, and then on the big hill again we lost another, and then it was just Norm and myself."
With a kilometer to go, and with Knickman in the lead, Alvis took over to lead the sprint.
"At 300 meters he (Alvis) started to accelerate and I didnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t want him to fully get the jump," Knickman said. "I wanted it to be a drag race, so I jumped hard to get next to him to force him to either drag race me or get on my wheel and try to come around. We drag raced and then I came around at 100 meters and just held him off."
It is KnickmanÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s first national win since returning competition after a three- year retirement.
Knickman finished less than a bike-length ahead of Alvis and they both clocked in at four hours, 44 minutes and 51 seconds. Canadian Gord Fraser (Mercury) took third at 4:46:17 and teammate (and countryman) Mark Walters led Bill Innes (Kissena) along with a group of riders in at 4:46:20.
Where the men split up early, the women stayed much closer together. The field finally split apart somewhat around 40 miles into the 66 mile womenÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s course when the Saturn and Saeco-Timex teams began to send riders off.
A group of six riders, led by CanadaÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s Clara Hughes (Saturn), crossed the finish line at three hours and 43 seconds, less than two minutes in front of the main peloton.
Nicole Freedman (Shaklee) placed second and moved into second overall behind Hughes; Susy Pryde (Saeco-Timex) took third, followed Cheryl Binney (RalphÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s- Klein), Tammy Jacques (Clif Bar) and Kathleen Gleason (Potomac).
More than 60 women then crossed in a mad sprint 1:28 behind the leaders. The margin of victory is very slight and no team has emerged as a clear leader.
While Hughes took the win, it was a day for other teams to gain some satisfaction.
Binney, who placed fourth, gave all the credit to her team members for getting her out front.
"Our job was really to cover the bigger teams, because there are only three of us," she said. "Our team was able to do that, whether it was me one of the others, but we were going to have one of us up front. I wouldnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t have been there without my teammates."
FridayÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s race, the Smith River Road Race, is one of the most difficult stages, with about 6,000 feet of climbing and a distance of just under 100 miles. The twisty, narrow BLM roads demand a high level of technical skill and concentration. Riders have to contend with rough, resurfaced logging roads, complete with storm damage and moss-slickened shaded areas. The demanding conditions take their toll on both riders and equipment and could serve to open up the overall race for both the men and women.
The Smith River Race begins at the Clay Creek Recreation Area about one-hour from Eugene. Start times are10 a.m. for the men and 10:30 a.m. for the women.
MERCURY TOUR OF WILLAMETTE
Stage 1 - Brownsville Road Race
1. ROY KNICKMAN (MERCURY), Colorado Springs, Colo., 4:44:51
2. Norm Alvis (Saturn), Colorado Springs, Colo., s.t.
3. Gord Fraser (Mercury), Ottawa, Ont., Canada, at 1:26
4. Mark Walters (Mercury), Blackstock, Ont., Canada, 1:29
5. Bill Innes (Kissena), Flushing, N.Y., s.t.
1. Knickman, 4:47:02
2. Alvis, at 0:04
3. Fraser, 1:29
4. Adham Sbeih (NutraFig), Sacramento, Calif., 1:37
5. Eddy Gragus (OilMe), Fort Collins, Colo., 1:42
1. CLARA HUGHES (SATURN), Hamilton, Ont., Canada, 3:00:43
2. Nicole Freedman (Shaklee), Palo Alto, Calif.
3. Susy Pryde (Saeco- Timex), Auckland, New Zealand
4. Cheryl Binney (RalphÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s-Klein), Los Angeles, Calif.
5. Tammy Jacques (Clif Bar), Carbondale, Colo., all s.t.
1. Hughes, 3:03:11
2. Freedman, at 0:04
3. Pryde, 0:06
4. Jacques, 0:21
5. Binney, 0:24
Alley Cat Scramble
It is only a week away from the running of the (in)famous Alley Cat Scramble race. We have reported before on this rather, um, unique event that takes place in an empty warehouse in north Toronto, and we will be there again next Friday and Saturday (April 24-25). If you want to attend - for the racing (an indoor, figure-8 wooden track); the music - bands play continuously; the drinking - we wonÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t touch that one...; or just the spectacle; then go to the Ontario Calendar page (via our main Calendars page) and click on the banner at the top.
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