New York City Cycling Championship
– Reported by Ray Cipollini For Team Navigators –
After racing for more than 62-miles through the streets of the downtown New York financial district, today’s inaugural New York City Cycling Championship came down to just inches. Navigators’ Vassili Davidenko was
nipped at the line by Saturn’s Cuban transplant Ivan Dominguez for the top honors in this event that also featured 4-time Tour de France Champion
Lance Armstrong. The riders took to the city streets in front of a huge crowd that was 3-5 rows deep around most of the 1.1-mile dog bone shaped course between New York’s famed towers of concrete, glass and steel. With a fast early pace and several $500 and $1,000 premes up for grabs, the peloton of nearly 70 riders was strung out from the starter’s whistle. After just a few laps of racing, a group of 6 formed up the road,
including Navigators’ Chris Baldwin and Siro Camponogara, Tony Cruz (US Postal), Frank McCormack (Saturn), Henk Vogels (Mercury) and Hilton Clarke (Schroeder Iron). Once the gap grew to 30-seconds, Jelly Belly’s Mariano Friedick bridged up to make it 7 with about 45-miles left to race.
The breakaway group kept motoring as the large crowd spurred them on. As the time split climbed to nearly 1-minute, all eyes were on the Prime Alliance squad as they were the biggest losers with no representation in
the breakaway group. One-by-one the Prime Alliance riders took their shot then seemed to go back as quickly as they came up, in the fast moving peloton. Although the Navigators had the advantage of numbers in the break with 2, it would be a tough race to win due to the speedy nature of the others in their midst, if they all made it to the end. In addition, the Navigators had plenty of speed and horsepower on reserve in the main field with Vassili Davidenko, Marty Nothstein, and newly crowned Russian National Champion Oleg Grichkine. The cooperation of the break riders was evident until Vogels took a shot with about 12-laps remaining. Navigators’ Baldwin answered his attack, and then counter attacked, as the cooperation quickly turned to everyman for himself. Sensing the discord in the break, the Saturn team took up position at the front of the peloton and began to drive the pace, apparently not happy with their prospects up front.
The gap came down rapidly and by 4-laps to go the peloton was all together and looking for a field sprint. With Saturn still driving, the race turned into a nail biter as all of the teams were now depleted but looking to
place their sprinters in front of the live TV cameras for the finish. Coming out of the final turn, the Mercury train hit the front but was quickly replaced by the Navigators men in blue as they delivered Vassili Davidenko to the final 200 meters. Sprinting up the right side
along the barriers, Vassili was pulling away from his closest rivals. However, Dominguez was coming around the outside on the left side of the road like a shot from a cannon to make it a 2-man drag race. At the line, it was a bike-throw by the Saturn rider that gave him a well-deserved win by inches. Mercury’s Gord Fraser rounded out the third step of the podium in front of the large, enthusiastic crowd. Although disappointed
with the final outcome, Vassili was quick to thank his Navigators team for being aggressive throughout the race, and putting him in position to go for the win. It was a close one, but for today, no cigar.