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August 10/00 8:18 am - Mercury Tour Stage 1


Posted by Editor on 08/10/00
 

Mercury Tour - Colorado

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (Aug. 10, 2000) -- Thursday was Gary Fisher-Saab day at the 2000 Mercury Tour presented by Outdoor Life Network, with teammates Mary Grigson and Pavel Tcherkassov winning the stage one Continental Divide Cross-country.

A point-to-point race, the 33.2-mile race traced the Continental Divide for approximately one third of the course before dumping riders in to the race finish at Steamboat. Riders hit the highest point of the race at Mountain Points Storm Peak Summit -- 10,372 feet.

Tcherkassov, from Russia, and '99 Pan Am Games gold medalist Steve Larsen (Jacksonville, Ore. -- LL Bean/Mongoose) rocketed off together from the start. Larsen, a past national cross-country champion, was racing with a broken rib and struggled with some sections of the course.

Though Tcherkassov seemed to have stronghold on the lead, a punctured rear tire set him back nearly 2-1/2 minutes. The setback allowed Larsen and Canadian Seamus McGrath to move ahead of the Russian, but not for long. Tcherkassov quickly rejoined the two riders and took his place at the front again, this time for good.

"I felt confident on the downhills, and my mechanics worked on my bike so that it was set up just right for today," Tcherkassov said. "I don't what I had today, some small thing that I can't put my finger on. It's hard to say why you are good one day and better the next day. It's like a one-percent difference. I knew this stage was really important. I'm just going to try to concentrate for the rest of the week and go home with the yellow jersey."

Though Larsen and McGrath tried to hang on to Tcherkassov, Swenson began picking off riders until he moved in to second. Swenson, who's brother Carl finished sixth Thursday, said he had a slow start, but hung with his brother until he felt stronger. "I really couldn't get my legs going, so I just stayed with Carl (Swenson). I know he's (Carl Swenson) going to beat up on me tomorrow though," Swenson said. "Then my legs just started going. I was hoping to be in the top-10 by the end of the Tour, so this is a nice surprise today. Saturday I think will be the biggest day. If you have a good day, you will be in the top five." McGrath hung in for third, while Larsen crossed the line in fourth. Tcherkassov now wears the overall and mountain leaders' jerseys going into Friday's second stage. Prologue second-place finisher Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski (Boulder, Colo. -- Nantucket Nectars) wears the Best Young Rider jersey after his fifth-place finish Thursday.

Grigson's win Thursday comes as no surprise given her domination of the sport this year. She currently leads the U.S. national series, winning three of four national races thus far. RLX Polo Sport rider Jimena Florit (Argentina) and Russian Alla Epifanova (Volvo-Cannondale) were off the front at the start of the race. Grigson stayed with chase group for the first third of the race, being careful of the cuts and bruises she suffered Wednesday during a training ride. Grigson, however, dominated the last two-thirds of the race after overtaking Epifanova and '99 Mercury Tour champion Florit, who finished second and third, respectively.

"I'm just taking this race as training, so I am really surprised to win today. Once I hit the single track, I noticed riders were getting tired, so I just started to move myself up. I rode the course yesterday, so I knew it pretty well," said Aussie Olympian Grigson. "Tomorrow is going to be really steep and hard. We'll see how my leg is feeling and go from there."

The 2000 Mercury Tour presented by Outdoor Life Network continues Friday, Aug. 11, with the stage two Mt. Werner Hill Climb. Riders depart Steamboat and climb their way to the finish, which lies at 10,568 feet.

Pro Men
1. PAVEL TCHERKASSOV, Russia (Gary Fisher-Saab) 2:14:37 seconds
2. Peter Swenson, Boulder, Colo. (SoBe/HeadShok) at 0:26
3. Seamus McGrath, Canada (Haro-Lee Dungarees) 0:59
4. Steve Larsen, Jacksonville, Ore. (LL Bean/Mongoose) 1:23
5. Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, Boulder, Colo. (Nantucket Nectars-Specialized) 2:33

Pro Women
1. MARY GRIGSON, Australia (Gary Fisher-Saab) 2:38:21 seconds
2. Alla Epifanova, Russia (Volvo-Cannondale) at 0::26
3. Jimena Florit, Argentina (RLX Polo Sport) 1:46
4. Shonny Vanlandingham, Pagosa Springs, Colo. (SoBe/HeadShok) 3:53
5. Rachel Lloyd, San Anselmo, Calif. (USA Cycling National Team) 5:20

General classification is the same as today's results.


Athlete Quotes:

First place: Pavel Tcherkassov, Russia (Gary Fisher-Saab): "I punctured my tire near the feed zone. It took about 2-1/2 minutes to change it, and I got about 30 seconds down from the leaders. I felt confident on the downhills, and my mechanics worked on my bike so that it was set up just right for today. I don't what I had today, some small thing that I can't put my finger on. It's hard to say why you are good one day and better the next day. It's like one percent difference. I knew this stage was really important. I'm just going to try to concentrate for the rest of the week and go home with the yellow jersey

Second place: Peter Swenson, Boulder, Colo. (SoBe/HeadShok): "There was a bunch of us, about 5 or 6, and I just hung there. I really couldn't get my legs going, so I just stayed with Carl (Swenson, his brother). I know he's (Carl Swenson) going to beat up on me tomorrow though. And then my legs just started going. I love the fast, smooth single track. Saturday I think will be the biggest day. If you have a good day, you will
be in the top five. I was hoping to be in the top-10 by the end of the Tour, so this is a nice surprise today."

Third place: Seamus McGrath, Canada (Haro-Lee Dungarees): "It was a hard course, really rutted, with exposed rocks, so I rode pretty conservative. Pavel (Tcherkassov) just rode away from us, and he was definitely the strongest rider today. I felt pretty good, but I was suffering on the climbs. I just tried to ride steady."

First place: Mary Grigson, Australia (Gary Fisher-Saab): "I crashed during a training ride yesterday (Grigson suffered cuts on her right arm and bruises on her left leg), and I knew it was pretty bad then. I couldn't hold to my handlebars for awhile, and it hurt a lot. I'm just taking this race as training, so I am really surprised to win today. Once I hit the single track, I noticed riders were getting tired, so I just started to move myself up. I caught Jimena about one-third in to the race. I rode the course yesterday, so I knew it pretty well. Tomorrow is going to be really steep and hard. We'll see how my leg is feeling and go from there. I like stage racing, it's good for me because I like endurance racing."

Third place: Jimena Florit, Argentina (RLX Polo Sport): "I started getting tired at the end. I had a great set of tires for the first half of the race, but they were bad for the downhills. I couldn't keep going really, really fast. I took some chances, but I think I knew the course better than Mary (Grigson) and Alla (Epifanova). They managed to catch me though, so I just tried to minimize the damage. It's a big day tomorrow, and we've got a long way to go. Obviously, it would have been nice to win, but it didn't happen so it's time for plan B."

 


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