Posted by Editoress on 11/2/01
Team Saturn for 2002
Courtesy Saturn Cycling
The Saturn Cycling Team has added three riders to its men's team roster for 2002 - Jay Sweet, Damon Kluck and Will Frischkorn - as it looks ahead to capitalizing on the success of 2001 by adding key ingredients to a squad that dominated American racing for the past year. But with the changing of the guard that is typical of this time of the year in the sport, Michael Barry, a longtime member of the Saturn Cycling Team, and Matt DeCanio, who had just joined the program prior to the 2001 season, will be departing to join the U.S. Postal Service and Prime Alliance teams, respectively. Sweet, Kluck and Frischkorn will join returning members Trent Klasna, Tim Johnson, Eric Wohlberg, Frank McCormack, Mark McCormack, Ivan Dominguez, Chris Fisher, Harm Jansen and Søren Petersen, bringing the men's roster to 12. The team operated with 11 men for much of 2001 after the mid-season retirement of Erin Hartwell. "Overall, we're going to be stronger," said men's team director Jim Copeland, who in his first year with the Saturn Cycling Team guided the squad to the No. 1 spot in the United States. Saturn took team and individual honors in both the Pro Cycling Tour (PCT) and National Racing Calendar (NRC) series of races, with Klasna grabbing the top spot overall in the individual standings for both tours. But that success is no cause for Copeland to rest on his laurels. "My goal is always to grow and to be a stronger team every year." In Sweet, a 26-year-old Australian, Saturn gains a sprinter who has honed his talents in the European peloton as a member of the Big Mat-Auber 93 squad for the past four seasons. He came up through the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) national team program and first made waves in 1996 when he won a stage of the prestigious French race, the Tour de l'Avenir, which translates to "Tour of the Future" and lives up to its name by unveiling young riders who often go on to greater glory in the pro ranks. It was one of 15 victories that season in France, Malaysia, Germany, Sweden and Australia as part of the Team Giant-Australia squad. Since then he's had 24 victories, including five this season.
Sweet's addition means more firepower for Saturn in the often wild and crazy finishing sprints, joining Cuban expatriate Ivan Dominguez, a former track racer who has switched to road racing since his arrival in the United States. "Having two fast guys is always better than one," said Copeland, "and in those situations you want the true field sprinters, the ones who can rub elbows with the other kamikazes up there. The fast guys open up options for the team." In 2001, Saturn used a strategy of initiating and/or fueling breakaway attempts in an effort to minimize the chances of a race ending in a field sprint, especially when Dominguez was out of action for several weeks following a wrist injury suffered in an April crash. "Whether it's a breakaway or a field sprint, I want to have that best option available," said Copeland. By adding Kluck (pronounced "klook"), Saturn takes a rider who has been a thorn in its side and adds him to its ranks. Kluck, a 24-year-old who lives in Santa Cruz, Calif., is a strong climber who was part of a significant three-man breakaway in the penultimate stage of the 2001 Tour of Willamette (Ore.) that threatened the overall lead of Saturn's Wohlberg. "It took four of our guys at maximum effort to painstakingly pull that lead back, and they didn't get all of it," said Copeland. Enough was done to secure the win for Wohlberg, but what Copeland saw impressed him enough to pursue Kluck, who finished that race fourth overall and was on the podium four times. "He's smart, tactical and has good bike racing sense. He's definitely going to be a great addition to the GC side," said Copeland of a rider who is able to go after the general classification (overall) title in multi-day stage races. Like several other Saturn Cycling Team members, Kluck also races cyclo-cross and was the 1995 junior national champion. He was a member of the 2000 and 1997 U.S. National Cyclo-cross teams. Kluck graduated in 2000 from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a B.S. degree in Business Management Economics. Frischkorn, just 20, is also a GC threat, "and he's an excellent time trialist," said Copeland. "He looks to be the next top espoir (the cycling term for riders under age 23) on a national and probably the world level."
In his second year of racing, 1997, Frischkorn, who now lives in Boulder, Colo., won the national junior criterium championship, was second in the road race and fourth in the time trial. His progression continued after joining the U.S. Cycling Federation's resident program in Colorado Springs later that year and Frischkorn won the prestigious Tour de l'Abitibi in Canada in 1998, one of the top junior stage races in the world. He was 12th in the junior world championships individual pursuit that same year. The following season he raced for the Mercury team's junior program and took another national criterium title. In 2000 he turned professional and had several impressive top-10 finishes against seasoned pros. "He was one of Mercury's significant players and was finishing second or third to guys like Scott Moninger and Floyd Landis," said Copeland of the young rider in comparison to his former highly successful Mercury teammates. "I think he's the kind of guy who can ultimately go to the Tour de France." But very late in the season, Frischkorn suffered a back injury that has caused him grief throughout 2001. "He came into the season with a back injury and never came out of it," said Copeland. Frischkorn tried to race through the injury, but finally realized that rest and rehabilitation is what he needs to enter 2002 in top form. Polishing young, ambitious riders into professionals has been Saturn's trademark. "We get the kind of riders who are young and talented and who work with us through to the launching pad to the next level," said Copeland. "But it's mutually beneficial to both sides. We get them in the interim years before they make that next step." That is precisely the case with Barry, 25, who leaves Saturn after three years in order to pursue his dream of competing in the Tour de France and other major European events alongside Lance Armstrong. It is a bittersweet departure for the Canadian who resides in Boulder. "He's one of the close-knit guys on the team and he told me that this year was one of the most fun that he's ever had," said Copeland. "We raced hard and did well. There was good camaraderie on the team and I'm sure that's going to be hard to leave. But Michael's a great guy and we all wish him well. He's going to make a good big tour rider - that's his niche."
DeCanio's decision to leave was a surprise to Copeland, but he feels the young rider will do well under Roy Knickman, the former pro who guides the Prime Alliance squad. "Matt will fit like a glove with Danny Pate and Michael Creed," said Copeland of two key riders on that team. He expects the three top teams in 2002 to be Saturn, Prime Alliance, and Mercury. "I think there's going to be a real rivalry between Saturn, Prime and Mercury with Navigators and 7-Up in there as well," said Copeland of the nation's top five teams.
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