Posted by Editor on 03/30/98
Dean, Freedman Win Kendall-Jackson Crits
(courtesy USA Cycling)
Report by Bill Oetinger for USA Cycling
SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- Both the men's and women's crits were almost entirely devoid of any complicated plot lines: in both events, the fields stayed tightly bunched throughout -- with no heroic breaks, desperate chases, or nasty crashes--and both ended in massive, high-speed field sprints.
In the men's race, New Zealand's sprint strongman Julian Dean (Mercury) won impressively, while Shaklee's Nicole Freedman of Palo Alto, Calif., capped off an aggressive race for her team with a clean win.
The Kendall Jackson Winery Criterium course winds through the streets of downtown Santa Rosa, California, taking six corners to circle city hall and the state building. In places, the circuit can be quite technical, in particular where one left-hand corner is followed almost immediately by a hard right. Riders throwing their bikes through this quick left-right complex--their wheels skittering off the centerline dots--always give the impression of being just a blink away from total chaos and severe, blunt-trauma mayhem.
Other than the great racing, perhaps the biggest news of the day was the weather. Overnight a freak front blew through with everything from snow on the surrounding hilltops and monster hail to sightings of funnel clouds. However,by morning, the only reminder of the storm was a brisk, chilly headwind blowing straight up the finishing stretch. By midday, it had warmed up to a point where the riding was about as comfortable as it can be, with puffy little clouds drifting across a bright blue sky.
The men's field varied between a long, strung-out line of riders (when they were hammering) and a curb-to-curb peleton (when they were dawdling along at just under 30-mph). No one launched a serious attack all day, and the only sprints were for the many cash primes. With about three or four laps to go,the speed started to ratchet up and the major teams began setting up lead-outs for their heavy hitters. As the bell sounded for the final lap, the Mercury and Saturn teams each had at least three bodies at the front of the train, and the pace was ferocious.
Saturn was smarting after being shut out in Saturday's Graton Road Race (after putting two riders in the lead break), so they were pumped to bring ina good result in the crit. On the backside of the course Saturn's Frank McCormack positioned himself to lead out teammate Fred Rodriguez, but somehow, around the final corner, Rodriguez missed McCormack's wheel, and instantly, Mercury's Julian Dean and Gord Fraser jumped into his place. In effect, McCormack ended up leading out the two strongest sprinters from the rival team. As soon as he realized the situation, McCormack pulled off, leaving Dean to face over 200 meters of stiff headwind to the finish.
Dean figured it was a long pull into the wind, but if he blew up, his teammate was right behind to come around, so he just put his head down and hammered off the front. In the end, the Kiwi had enough power to hold off the field all the way to the line, but Fraser made it close with a bike lunge while Dean was sitting up to salute the madly cheering crowd. The result was nearly a photo finish, but one that looked good for Mercury from any angle. A rather disheartened Rodriguez salvaged what he could for Saturn with third place.
It was a great day for the Mercury team. Not only did they place one-two in the race, they sewed up the team championship in the California Spring Classics Series and walked away with an additional $1500 prize for that accomplishment. Saturn placed a close second in the series, with Navigators a distant third.
The women's race followed almost the same format as the men's, with almost the only attacks being to snag the swag on the prime laps. The Saeco-Timex squad came into the day leading in the Spring Classics team standings, but they were entirely absent from the field. Most of the team was competing in Australia, and Linda Jackson, who won Saturday's road race, was not entered in the crit.
In their absence, the Shaklee team became the driving force in the race, going after almost every prime and generally pushing the pace throughout. Shaklee's Nicole Reinhart took three out of the five primes and her teammate Louisa Jenkins took another.
Eventual winner Nicole Freedman (Shaklee) did venture out around mid-race on a tentative, one-lap attack, but soon returned to the fold and waited for the final lap. Shaklee set themselves up well on that lap and, down the final straight, they did a very business-like job of delivering Freedman to the line well clear of the competition. Jennifer Evans of Team EDS spent most of the race near the front, shadowing the Shaklee train, and it paid off at the finish with second place. Reinhart added to her haul of booty in the primes with a third place finish.
In the end, the lead in the Spring Classics team standings that Saeco-Timex had going into the race was insurmountable, in spite of Team Shaklee's efforts, and they collected the $1500 first-place prize in absentia. However, Shaklee's busy day vaulted them past Ralph's/Klein into a close second place in the final standings.
WINE COUNTRY CYCLING CLASSIC - Santa Rosa, Calif.
Men, 90 minutes
1. JULIAN DEAN (MERCURY), Hamilton, New Zealand; 2. Gord Fraser (Mercury),Ottawa, Ont., Canada; 3. Fred Rodriguez (Saturn), Piedmont, Calif.; 4. MikeMcCarthy (Saturn), New York, N.Y.; 5. Patrick Eyk (Navigators), Holland; 6.Yannick Cajon (SRC Dominic), Quebec, Canada; 7. John Leonard (LeMond); 8.Derek Bouchard-Hall (Shaklee), Menlo Park, Calif.; 9. Matt Koschara (Shaklee);10. Antonio Cruz (Mercury), Sparks, Nev.
Women, 60 minutes
1. NICOLE FREEDMAN (SHAKLEE), Palo Alto, Calif.; 2. Jennifer Evans (EDS),Austin, Texas; 3. Nicole Reinhart (Shaklee), Portland, Ore.; 4. BrendaBrashears (PowerBar), Grants Pass, Ore.; 5. Aleka Skouras (Ralph's/Klein), LosAltos, Calif.; 6. Kelly Herndon (Peninsula Velo), Menlo Park, Calif.; 7. MarieHoljer (JaneÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s Cosmetics); Sweden; 8. Jeanne Golay (Schwinn Paramount),Glenwood Springs, Colo.; 9. Debra Durand (San Diego Cyclo Vets), San Diego,Calif.; 10. Bonnie Breeze (PowerBar), Columbus, Ohio.
More Canadian Men Results from Napa
66. Peter Wedge (Kona) at 20:33.12
67. Neil Grover (Rocky Mountain) 20:50.31
69. Geoff Kabush (Kona) 21:31.64
71. Jason Crookham (Valunet) 21:51.08
73. Paul Cobham (Silent Sports) 22:26.10
76. Josh Hall 23:22.24 (Schwinn Canada)
77. Mathieu Toulouse (Bromont AVP) 23:36.02
95. Michael Pruner at 1 lap
102. Greg Blackwell at 2 laps
104. Christian Hansen at 2 laps
DNF: Keith Stark, Matt Decore, Bruno Lafontaine, Sebastien Paradis, Phillippe Lavalle, Adam Walker, Carter Hovery, Lucas curran, Scott Sternthal, Jussi Jaakkola
More race info: Cadel Evans suffered a flat while in 5th place. He dropped to 18th, but managed to fight his way back up to 6th by the finish of the race.
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