Walters Wins Chris Thater Memorial
– Reported by Ray Cipollini for Team Navigators –
Mark Walters of the Navigators Cycling Team added another win for the men in blue today at the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium in Binghamton, NY. This 50-mile criterium is a staple of the domestic scene and one of the stops on the National Racing Calendar.
This event usually attracts a top-notch field and this year was no exception. The racing action started out in typical fashion; fast and furious with the attacks coming non-stop from the starter’s whistle. Within 10 laps, several of the early breakaways joined forces and a group of about 25 riders soon had a 50-second gap on the rest of the field. With all of the major teams represented it looked good to go…even if it was a bit on the large side of efficient.
After another 10 laps, an attack by Navigators’ Marty Nothstein was matched by several others, and the pace quickened even more. With a little bit of re-shuffling, the new breakaway had 9 riders and was blasting around the 1-mile course. Nothstein and Mark Walters were representing the Navigators, Scott Moninger and Mike Sayers from Mercury, John Lieswyn from 7-Up, and 4 others wasted no time putting distance on their competitors.
The teams of Saturn and Prime Alliance were the biggest to miss the selection, and with small squads on hand it was going to be difficult to reverse the damage being done. The race was now broken in to 4 groups, and the front 9 were not coming back. In just a few laps, they breakaway was breathing down the backs of the main field, and with a few more hard pulls, they were safely in the fold. As the lap counters were looking at 15 to go, 3 of the groups had come back together, but another group of 5 were still out, and hoping to lap the field also.
Unfortunately for the 5, the Navigators had the strength in numbers and began to set up the field sprint for Nothstein and Walters. With a total of 9 riders on the lead lap, the Navigators‚ blue train took over the front with 10 to go and started to ramp up the speed. As the field came around for the final lap, it was all hands on deck as the squad decimated the group and delivered Mark Walters to a perfectly timed sprint to take the victory.
In a close 2nd it was John Lieswyn (7-Up) followed by Mike Sayers (Mercury). The race is dedicated to the memory of Chris Thater, a local cyclist that was killed by a drunk driver. This 2-day festival is in its 19th year and is the brainchild of Jim May and the Broome County STOP-DWI program.