Canadian Cyclist


June 7/02 6:05 am - First Union Classic to Fraser

Posted by Editoress on 06/7/02

First Union Classic Trenton, NJ

1. Gord Fraser (Can), Mercury, in 1:45:48
2. Oleg Grichkine (Rus), Navigators
3. Wesley Van Speybroeck (Bel), Lotto-Adecco
4. Ciaran Power (Irl), Navigators
5. Tom Boonen (Bel), U.S. Postal Service
6. Robbie Ventura, (USA) U.S. Postal Service
7. Chris Horner, (USA) Prime Alliance
8. Gorik Gardeyn (Bel), Lotto-Adecco
9. Marty Nothstein, (USA) Navigators
10. Soren Petersen (Dk), Saturn
11. Jay Sweet (Aus), Satun
12. Cristian Pepoli (Ita), Saeco
13. Antonio Cruz, (USA) U.S. Postal Service
14. Igor Astarloa (Esp), Saeco
15. Brian Forbes, (USA) Jelly Belly
16. Sven Vanthourenhout (Bel), Domo-Farm Frites
17. Oscar Pineda (Gua), 7UP-Nutra Fig
18. Thomas Gronqvist (Sui), Amore & Vita
19. Dave McCook, (USA) Prime Alliance
20. Peter Rogers (Aus), iTeamnova, all s.t.

Mercury Team Report

After Tuesday's Lancaster race. Mercury felt that they had times good form just right. Thursday in Trenton, Mercury overcame severe weather to record their first ever win at the First Union Classic

Gord Fraser has had bad luck at the First Union Classic in Trenton, New Jersey before, but on a day when it seemed that anything possible could go wrong, everything went right for the Mercury rider. Fraser held off a charging pack at the end of a wet, treacherous race on Thursday evening to give his Mercury team its first Trenton win.

The race got off to a rocky start, when, just minutes after the 164 riders rolled off the line in front of the New Jersey State Art Museum, they were called back to the start. A fatal automobile-pedestrian accident had occurred on the downtown end of the course just before the 4:30 p.m. start, and the site had to be cleared, and part of the course re-routed.

After a neutral roll out, the peloton split in 2 parts right away as several crashes took their toll. Mercury had 5 riders left in the group with only 5 laps to go in the rain shortened race.

On the last lap with the help of teammate Brice Jones, had fought back up to the front. Then, with one corner and about 500 meters to go, he zeroed in on Horner and Power.

Fraser shot past with about 300 meters to go, and held off Grichkine and Lotto's Wesley Van Speybroeck behind him.

"Trenton's been eluding us all these years," said Fraser. "I can't describe how good it feels to win here."

Navigators Team Report

The second event of the 3-race First Union series is usually a speed fest known for high speedsand for the sprinters. However, for this year's version the weather and an unfortunate accident on the racecourse caused as much action as the race itself. Moments after the 91-mile race began, the peloton was stopped due to a fatal motor vehicle accident on another part of the course, unrelated to the race. After a 50-minute delay and a slight course change, the Commissaires decided to cut the event back from 13 laps to 8, now that the skies, and available light, had darkened and the hard driving rain came. The first few laps of the race saw several opportunistic teams drive the pace and split the field into several groups. Between the slippery conditions, brick sections and numerous turns, the field was quickly reduced to about 50 riders that soon had 1-minute on the second group. Many in the second group pulled over to save their effort for another day.

The front group contained many of the sprinters as well as strong Classics riders, so the pace stayed relatively high for the wet and wild conditions. Throughout the middle laps, 3-7, several small breakaways were attempted, but none gained more than 30-seconds before being brought back into the fold. The Navigators men in blue seemed to be in their watery element as the finish line approached and sprinters Marty Nothstein and Oleg Grichkine were in the mix. As the group, now numbering about 35, made their way into the final series of bricks and tight, slippery turns, Navigators' Ciaran Power and Chris Horner (Prime Alliance) had a 10-secong gap on the field. However, as the speed of the chasing peloton increased, their lead evaporated quickly. Coming out of the last turn, Gord Fraser (Mercury) attacked, catching the rest of the field by surprise with 400 meters to the line. Closing in fast was Navigators' Grichkine, but he came up just inches short in a photo finish, with Lesley Van Speybrock (Lotto) taking the 3rd podium position. On a day better suited for boating than bike racing, the Navigators men in blue took home 2nd place, 4th place (Power) and 9th place (Marty Nothstein). After two events, Oleg Grichkine is now the leader of the US Pro Cycling Tour, while the Navigators Team claimed the team title for the event. All eyes now turn to Sunday and the 250Km First Union USPRO Championship.

Team Saturn Report

Gord Fraser in the Rain at First Union Classic

The First Union Classic got off to a rough start in Trenton, NJ today. With heavy skies and a stirring wind promising thunderstorms, the field stood at the line nearly an hour as security worked to clear a fatal auto accident at the bottom of the course. Finally, just as the skies opened in earnest, the racing got under way with the race length shortened from 13 laps to 8.

Held on a technical and relatively flat course, the race quickly disintegrated on the rain slicked roads. Almost immediately men came off the back as Prime Alliance went to the front and forced the pace. Quickly a front group of 60 formed with all the teams' sprinters. Attacks followed, with groups forming only to be recollected by the field.

With one lap to go, a field sprint seemed inevitable. However, in the final 2 kilometers, Chris Horner (Prime Alliance) and Ciaran Powers (Navigators) slipped the bunch and it looked as if a two up sprint would decide the winner. But Mercury had other plans, and with the assistance of his teammate, Gord Fraser was delivered with a gap on the field with 600 meters to go. Jumping hard out of the final corner, Fraser was able to close the gap to the two men and cleared them both for the win. Navigator's Oleg Grishkine was second over Lotto's Wesle Van Speybroeck. Grishkine's consistent finish in the past two First Union races puts him in the lead in the Pro Tour Series.

Clear skies and low humidity are forecasted for Sunday's First Union US Pro Road Race Championships promising a welcome relief to the current conditions for both the crowds and the athletes.


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