Posted by Editor on 06/8/03
USPro Championship - Philadelphia, USA
1 Stefano Zanini (Ita) Saeco
2 Uros Murn (Slo) Formaggi Pinzolo
3 Julian Dean (NZL) CSC
4 Mark McCormack (USA) Saturn
5 Max van Heeswijk (Ned) US Postal-Berry Floor
6 Massimilliano Mori (Ita) Formaggi Pinzolo
7 Kevin Monahan (USA) 7UP-Maxxis
8 Henk Vogels (Aus) Navigators
9 David Clinger (USA) Prime Alliance
10 Mike Sayers (USA) Health Net
Saturn's Bessette Breaks Rossner's Winning Streak at Wachovia Liberty Classic
Courtesy Saturn Cycling
The Women's Wachovia Liberty Classic was held on the streets of Philadelphia today. Unlike years past, the skies were laden with rain, and the temperatures chilly. And unlike past years, a new winner climbed a top the podium in the Liberty Classic.
The course has not changed over the history of the race, and the fans have come to depend on the "Wall" to select the strongest rides in the race. Starting on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the race heads East to Manayunk to ascend the infamous Manayunk Wall, a climb remarked on for the 17% grade and thousands of fans. From the wall, the course brings the riders back west over Strawberry Mansion and Lemon Hill, both smaller climbs that are certainly felt after the 92 kilometers in the women's race and the 250 kilometers in the men's race. A quick trip around the oval at the bottom of the Parkway, and the finish lies in all its glory, waiting to crown a new champion and award one of the greatest honors in North American bicycle racing.
The women's race began shortly after the men's US PRO Championship start, and like the weather, talk of the crowds, the teams and the media was whether Petra Rossner could repeat her win an unprecedented seventh time. Rossner has had a stranglehold on the race for years, and the teams were well aware that to win the race, the best tactic would be to escape from Rossner and her very capable Nurnberger Team.
Immediately the T-Mobile and Saturn Teams launched their attacks. After the first time up the wall, a group of five formed containing two T-Mobile riders - Kristin Armstrong and Dotsie Cowden - Saturn's Katie Mactier and Jessica Phillips, and Madeleine Lindberg sat on to ensure the best chance at the win for her Nurnberger teammate Petra Rossner.
The four riders worked together, opening a gap of 15 seconds. The Diet Rite Team would have none of it though and the field arrived together after the finish line. From there, Manon Jutras, stage winner at the recent Tour de L'Aude attacked, and soloed away from the group, putting precious seconds into the field. After a brief hesitation, T-Mobile and Nurnberger organized and began an earnest chase. Saturn's Jutras managed to hold off the swarming field for one and a half laps, but the kilometers added up, and she finally succumbed to the field in the streets of Manayunk.
As the peloton climbed the wall for the last time, taking the cue from her Saturn teammate Ina Teutenberg, Bessette stood up and stomped on the pedals. Quickly a gap opened and Bessette seized the opportunity and sprinted off the front. A group of four bridged to Bessette containing T-Mobile's Kimberly Anderson and Dede Demet Barry, Lyne Gaggioli and Judith Arndt. As the small chase caught Bessette, Gaggioli tried her hand at an attack, but she was not strong enough to hold off her chasers. As she was caught, Bessette attacked again, and then again, and then again, and then she was alone. With two kilometers to go to the finish line, and the road of the crowd in her ears, Bessette put her head down and drove it for home. Anderson tried to come to terms with the Saturn rider, but was unable and by the time the four organized a chase, Bessette had ten seconds on them as she headed into the final kilometer.
With enough time to celebrate, Bessette's big smile illustrated her joy as she crossed the line nine seconds ahead, only the second North American to win this race. Second to Bessette was Gaggioli with an impressive ride ahead of Arndt. T-Mobile's Kimberly Anderson was fourth. Nurnberger's Rossner won the field sprint for fifth.
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