Posted by Editor on 09/10/99
Leipheimer Close, But Fred Rodriguez Gives U.S. First Stage Victory at Trans Canada Tour
Fred Rodriguez (Mapei Quick Step) gave the U.S. their first stage win of the Trans-Canada, with a tactically perfect sprint at the end of stage 7Ã¢â‚¬Å¡s 184 kilometre run from Kingston to Port Hope.
The race began with a persistent headwind and a forecast of more of the rain that has soaked the riders for the last few days. By the 14 kilometre point the pack had split in two, with race leader Jean-Cyril Robin (Francaise des Jeux) caught behind in the second group. Shortly after the two groups rejoined, Jet FuelsÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s Alexandre Bernard jumped off the front.
By the 40 kilometre point the Quebec rider had 1:30 on the disinterested field, rising to 9 minutes by the 120 kilometre mark. Now, however, the pack came to life and started, slowly to reel him back. Levi Leipheimer (Saturn) attacked off the peleton at the 140 kilometre point, bridging up to the tired
Bernard The two rode together for a short period, before Bernard slid backwards for good.
For a while it looked like Leipheimer might pull of a win, but the Linda McCartney team began to chase hard, and Leipheimer was caught with 1.5 kilometres left in the race. McCartney continued to set things for their sprinter - Dan Mckenzie. Unfortunately for him, Rodriguez was paying attention.
Ã¢â‚¬Å¾I was feeling really good - I wanted this win. I played off Linda McCartneyÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s set up for Dan.Ã¢â‚¬Â° Rodriguez sat tucked in behind McKenzie until the last possible moment, when he slingshoted to the front, holding off both McKenzie and Gord Fraser (Mercury) for the win. Ã¢â‚¬Å¾The fastest guy doesnÃ¢â‚¬Å¡t always winÃ¢â‚¬Â°, quipped Rodriguez, referring to FraserÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s three sprint wins thus far in the Tour.
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