Posted by Editor on 07/5/98
Fitchburg Stage 3 - Leigh Hobson takes stage
(by Karen Haas, courtesy USA Cycling)
FITCHBURG, Mass. -- Roy Knickman (Mercury) thought he was just a sitting duck. But he turned a team ploy into a stage win atop Wachusett Mountain, to take the third stage of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic.
Knickman spent 40 miles solo, and barely kept the pedals turning over to cross the finish line ahead of a hard-charging Frank McCormack (Saturn), who finished second and took the lead on general classification.
In the top women's event, Dede Demet surpassed her Saturn teammate Elizabeth Emery in the overall standings after also finishing second in the stage, to the aggressive Leigh Hobson (Hydro Quebec).
From the start line of this 104-mile race, Saturn and Mercury continued to wage a battle born on the roads of Friday's circuit race. The pace started fast as both teams ate through early attacks. On the second of nine laps of this 12-mile course, two Navigators riders rolled off the front. Mercury marked the move, and soon a handful of riders joined them. Significant members in the break included Skip Spangenburg (Navigators), Mark Walters (Mercury), Bart Bowen (Saturn) and Knickman.
These four popped ahead of the break at the 56-mile-mark's points sprint, and soon had a gap of 8:17 on the field, making Bowen the leader on the road. Then Walters made a jump just past the descent, dropping only Knickman and setting up the ploy that would lead to his team's stage win.
Knickman dangled off the back of the trio by 50 meters for some 10 miles. Ahead of him, Walters and Spangenburg had placed the responsibility of the work on Bowen's shoulders, who became frustrated. The three backed off pace to bicker, then Bowen jumped and started skirting across the road. Back together, the trio noodled up the left hand lane on an uphill section.
Then Knickman shot past a line of cars up the right shoulder and kept on the attack. No one responded.
Knickman spent the remainder of the race gritting his teeth to the task. Dripping with sweat and snaking his bike up the difficult hills, it didn't look as though he would hang on to his four-minute gap. But the field didn't show interest until the last lap, when Mercury's David Clinger lit the torch on the longest climb of the course. He was followed through by brothers Frank and Mark McCormack, Trent Klasna (Navigators), and Mat Anand (Mercury). They quickly gained ground on the fading Knickman.
After the race entered the road to the top of Wachusett Mountain, Frank McCormack attacked on the second steep section. Only Klasna followed.
Ahead, Knickman bottomed out to his 39 x 21 to just try to get the race over with. McCormack charged up the climb in a 55 x 21. Knickman hung on to win the stage with six seconds in hand, immediately dropping to the ground. McCormack lashed out with a late sprint to take second from Klasna. Saturn's Brian Walton, leader going into the stage, finished 56 seconds back and passed the race mantle over to his teammate.
In the women's event, Demet and Hobson swallowed a long break and charged up Wachusett Mountain to decide the race. Hobson proved faster to take the stage, while Demet took overall lead from her teammate Elizabeth Emery, who finished 51 seconds down.
The Fitchburg Longsjo Classic concludes Sunday with the popular downtown criterium.
Stage 3, Unitil/Fitchburg Gas & Electric Road Race at Wachusett Mountain
Men, 104 miles
1. ROY KNICKMAN (MERCURY), Colorado Springs, Colo.;
2. Frank McCormack (Saturn), Leicester, Mass.;
3. Trent Klasna (Navigators), Pine Valley, Calif.;
4. Mat Anand (Mercury), Canada;
5. Mark McCormack (Saturn), N. Easton, Mass.
1. FRANK MCCORMACK (SATURN), Leicester, Mass.;
2. Brian Walton (Saturn), N. Delta, B.C., Canada;
5. Adham Sbeih (Nutra Fig), Sacramento, Calif.
Women, 58 miles
1. LEIGH HOBSON (HYDRO QUEBEC), Kitchener, Ont., Canada;
2. Dede Demet (Saturn), Boulder, Colo.;
3. Rebecca Bailey (New Zealand), New Zealand;
4. Cheryl Binney (RalphÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s-Klein), Los Angeles, Calif.;
5. Katie Compton (First State Velo), Newark, Del.;
6. Anne Samplonius (Hydro Quebec), Canada;
7. Elizabeth Emery (Saturn), New York, N.Y.;
8. Annie Gariepy (Elita), Canada;
9. Cybil DiGuistini (Elita), Victoria, B.C., Canada;
10. Ward Griffiths (Safeway- Saturn), Seattle, Wash.
1. DEDE DEMET (SATURN), Boulder, Colo., 4:43:03;
2. Emery, at 0:24;
3. Hobson, at 0:34;
4. Samplonius, 0: 42;
5. Gariepy, at 1:22;
6. Tina Mayolo (PowerBar), Athens, Ga., at 1:54;
7. Binney, s.t.;
8. Compton, at 1:57;
9. Griffiths, at 2:15;
10. Bailey, at 2:42
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