June 5/05 8:30 am - Wachovia USPRO Championship Preview
Posted by Editoress on 06/5/05
Preview Wachovia USPRO Championship Philadelphia, PA
By Leigh Hargrove
Canadian Gina Grain top contender this weekend.
A 165+ women's field will compete in this weekend's Wachovia Liberty Classic Road Race in Philadelphia for a total prize purse worth $52,000 US dollars. The 90.56km race will see the women's largest field in North America race around the streets of Philadelphia to compete for the twelve thousand dollar grand prize.
Seven-time Liberty Classic winner, Petra Rossner, will be returning this year, not as a racer, but as a director sportif. She will be directing the German-based Neunberger Versicherung Team, led by current World Champion Judith Arndt and current World Cup leader Oenone Wood. Known as one of the world's best women's teams, all eyes will be watching them in this one-day classic.
The women's field is diverse and features two Canadian trade teams (Biovail & Diet Cheerwine) as well as a Canadian Development team led by CCA Coach of Development Programs, Kris Westwood. A bunch of Canadian women will be competing on US Trade Teams including Colavita/Cooking Oil rider Sue Palmer, Victory Brewing's Gina Grain, Kirsten Robbins, and Amy Moore, Quark's Audrey Lemieux, and Webcor Builders' Erinne Willock.
Last year's second place finisher, Gina Grain, doesn't have to compete with Rossner's sprint this year, but will be up against World Cup leader Oenone Wood as well as New Zealand sprinter, Joanne Kienowski (Nobili-Rubinetterie). Alongside Grain will be Australia's sprinter, Rochelle Gilmore, who will be riding for the Victory Brewing Cycling Team. She recently broke a rib at the Pan American Championships earlier this season but appears to be back in form.
Webcor's Erinne Willock was last year's Queen of the Mountain in this race, and with a new team behind her, this talented rider's potential to repeat is golden. She's bearing 8-12 stitches after a crash on Thursday split open her ankle and elbow, but seems to be doing just fine.
Missing in action is Quebec rider Lyne Bessette (Louis Garneau). Last week's crash in the Grand Tour du Montreal left her with a concussion and bruises, but no broken bones. The talented rider opted to take her doctor's advice for a few more days and take 'er easy.
Racing gets started at 9am Sunday morning with the men's race, and the women's start is scheduled for ten minutes after nine.
Sprinter Gord Fraser a key target for today's win!
Over 200+ pros from Europe, the United States and Canada will be competing in this year's Wachovia US Pro Cycling Championships in Philadelphia. Part of a three part series, the race boasts a $142,000 purse for the pro men, with a hefty forty thousand dollar check for the man that crosses the line first.
Last year it was Freddie Rodriguez who nipped Canada's own Gord Fraser at the line after a grueling 250km race just under six hours long. This year, Fraser is back with a vengeance, already winning the second race of the series earlier this week, June 2. The natural sprinter is in great form this year, leading the NRC series, winning a stage at the Tour du Georgia, all eyes will be on him and his HealthNet Team Maxxis men's team.
Navigators' Canadian rider, Mark Walters, won this race in 2002 and is looking forward to starting today's race with a healthy body. Since his win he has battled with thyroid disease and it wasn't until early last season that he was able to get it under control. The young rider suffered from a broken knee cap last year, mid-season, and is ready to race this year in full form.
New to the Wachovia race is pro mountain biker Geoff Kabush. He has been racing with the Jittery Joes cycling team for a couple months this year. This will be his last road race before heading up to Quebec to begin his preparations for the Mont-Ste-Anne World Cup. The talented rider was looking forward to the race and seems to be enjoying his time on skinny tires.
Discovery's Ryder Hesjedal is back on this side of the Atlantic after a heavy spring campaign of European classics and the Giro. Hesjedal will also be riding his first US Pro but be providing mainly a support role for the team's sprinters.
Not in attendance this week will be Eric Wohlberg's Canadian based Team Symmetrics. The team was originally scheduled to race this weekend. More information to follow in our post-race story.