Clinger Wins First Union Invitational
– Reported by Dan Osipow for Tailwind Sports –
Taking the advice of his team manager, a winner on the same course four years prior, the United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team’s David Clinger attacked his lone breakaway partner with three miles remaining in the 91-mile First Union Invitational and rode to a solo victory today in Lancaster, Penn.
With just two and a half laps remaining in the 13 lap race, Clinger broke away from the lead group with Mercury’s Chris Wherry and the duo immediately gained ground on the group. Working together, Clinger and Wherry built their lead and it was clear they would stay away from the chasers. In the final stages of the race, the USPS team’s U.S. team director, Frankie Andreu, told Clinger not to settle for a sprint finish but to attack Wherry. “I told him to give it one final effort, attack at least once before waiting for a sprint finish,” Andreu said. “David was super strong today and after a real crazy start, it all turned out well in the end.”
Clinger’s winning move dropped Wherry and allowed the Californian to cruise to a 16 second victory. Two other USPS riders – Michael Barry (sixth) and George Hincapie (ninth) – finished in the top 10 among the main group just under two minutes back. As a whole, the USPS team was very active but faced some mishaps early on, with Hincapie, Antonio Cruz and Robbie Ventura suffering mechanicals and Christian Vande Velde crashing out.
“It was a mess early on,” said Andreu, the winner of the 1998 edition of the First Union Invitational. “But the team rode very well together and sacrificed for each other.”
The First Union Series continues on Thursday with the 91-mile First Union Classic in Trenton, N.J., prior to Sunday’s 156-mile U.S. Pro Championship in Philadelphia.
FIRST UNION INVITATIONAL
1. David Clinger, U.S. Postal Service; 91 miles in 3:18:52
2. Chris Wherry, Mercury; at :16
3. Tom Leaper, Navigators; at 1:40
4. Oleg Grichkine, Navigators; at 1:59
5. Zbigniew Piatek, Mroz; s.t.
6. Michael Barry, U.S. Postal Service; s.t.
9. George Hincapie, U.S. Postal Service; s.t.
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