NRC Round 2: Saturn & Health Net Victorious
– Reported by Giana Roberge for Team Saturn –
The second stop on the NRC calendar brought the large fields in the pro men and pro women’s race to Merced, California for the McLane Pacific Grand Prix. With one more chance to test their legs before upcoming three weeks of stage races beginning with the Solano Bicycle Classic next week, Saturday’s downtown criterium was hotly contested with lots of thrilling action throughout both races.
The course was the same in previous years, a six corner .8 mile loop with a tail wind through the start finish line. The women’s 40 lap event got off to a brisk start with the three “hot laps” which stirred things up and saw many attacks by the T-Mobile, Saturn and Helen’s Trek VW Teams. However, mid way through the race, Saturn’s Ina Teutenberg put in a concerted attack and managed to create a gap from what was still a very aggressive field. With Teutenberg was T-Mobile’s Kristen Armstrong and Kattie Safford (Minute Maid).
The group worked well but the field was relentless in their attacks to bring back Teutenberg’s group, and with ten laps to go the threesome was back in the fold. After a brief reshuffling it was Teutenberg again launching an attack and clearing the field this time with T-Mobile’s Dede Demet Barry and Carla La Grange (Minute Maid). The three quickly established a 15 second gap, and with only four laps to go it was clear it would be a three up sprint.
In the final corner it was Barry leading out the sprint, with Teutenberg easily coming by for the win. Barry held off La Grange for second. Tina Mayolo – Pic (Diet Rite) nipped Saturn’s Laura Van Gilder at the line for fourth.
The men’s race also began with the three “hot laps’ with the desired effect of whipping the field to frenzy. Thing happened quickly after that with attacks coming from the very strong Web Core, Saturn, Prime Alliance, 7-UP, Sierra Nevada and Schroeder Iron Teams.
Many small breaks formed throughout the 50 lap race, with a break of nine riders separating from the field with 17 laps to go. Although Saturn had three riders in the break, Prime Alliance was unhappy with the mix and quickly brought the field back together after three laps. As the group re-formed and more attacks and counter attacks stretched the field to single file, Saturn’s Chris Horner and Eric Wohlberg escaped with OFoto’s Raymond Peter latched on to the two powerhouses. However, the field again proved too strong and with eight laps to go the threesome was caught after four laps off the front. From there the Saturn Team moved to the front with six men there to lead-out the two sprinters on the team, Ivan Dominguez and Charles Dionne. Web Core also moved their sprinter, Gord Fraser into position and Prime Alliance brought Jonas Carney to the fore. Also tucked in there was Miguel Meza, well noted for his finishing speed.
In the final corner as the last lead-out man swung aside it was Fraser leading them out, handily taking the win over Miguel Meza (Schroeder Iron) with Carney in third.
1. Ina Teutenberg – Saturn Cycling Team
2. Dede Demet Barry – T-Mobile
3. Carla LaGrange – Minute Maid/Dasani
4. Tina Mayolo Pic – Diet Rite
5. Laura Van Gilder – Saturn Cycling Team
1. Gord Fraser – Health Net
2. Miguel Meza – Schroeder Iron
3. Jonas Carney – Prime Alliance