July 31, 2005 — Scott Moninger of the Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis is in his 15th year as a professional cyclist. In those years, he’s raced on some pretty dominating teams, in particular the Coors Light teams of the early 1990s, and the Mercury teams of 2000-01. But in all those years, he’s never seen a team dominate the NRC calendar like this year’s Health Net Presented by Maxxis squad.
As if to drive home that point, Moninger wrapped up the overall title of the International Tour de “˜Toona Sunday, while teammate Greg Henderson earned his second stage win of the seven-stage tour. In the process, Henderson, the three-time Olympian and former track world champion from New Zealand, also earned enough points and time bonuses to win the points competition and move up to sixth place in the final general classification. Right behind teammates Justin England and Chris Wherry (4th and 5th respectively). The high finishes also gave the team yet another overall win in the team classification.
Today’s final stage, a 50-minute criterium in downtown Altoona, went exactly according to plan. “We wanted to try to get me the points jersey today,” Henderson said. “We set up on Colavita’s train for the intermediate sprint at the mid-point of the race and I was able to come around and get the time bonus and sprint points.”
The finish followed a similar script. Health Net Presented by Maxxis had set a strong tempo on the front from the outset of the stage, and except for a lap before the intermediate sprint, only gave up the front of the race with about five laps to go. Colavita/Sutter Home took over, trying to set up Jonathan Page, with Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada along side trying to set up Dan Schmatz. With three to go, it was all Colavita, trying for their fourth stage win of the tour. But Henderson had glued himself to Page’s wheel, and in the sprint to the line, Henderson showed off his powerful finishing kick in beating Page. The bonus time and points for the win, combined with the time bonus and points for the intermediate sprint, enabled him to take the points leader’s jersey away from Brad Huff (Mercy Cycling), while also jump ahead of Andy Bajadali (RMCEF) on GC.
1. Scott Moninger (USA) Health Net pb Maxxis 15.38.46
2. Mark McCormack (USA) Colavita – Sutter Home 0.46
3. Hugh Moran (USA) Aerospace Engineering 0.52
4. Justin England (USA) Health Net pb Maxxis 1.20
5. Chris Wherry (USA) Health Net pb Maxxis 1.29
6. Greg Henderson (USA) Health Net pb Maxxis 1.44
Stage 7 Results
1. Greg Henderson (NZL) Health Net pb Maxxis 1.01.57
2. Jonathan Page (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home
3. Alejandro Acton TARGETRAINING
Henderson said that he wasn’t really trying for the sprint points during the week, but his consistently high finishes each day not only kept earning him points, but also showed that the “sprinter” tag isn’t entirely accurate for him. “I’m not just a sprinter,” he pointed out. “I think I surprised a few people (Saturday) on the climbs. People would look around and see me there. Maybe some of them thought that if I could get over the climbs well, they could, too.”
He credits his improved climbing to relocating and training at altitude in Boulder, Colorado, as well as not riding on the track for some time now. “I haven’t been on the track since March,” he said. “I’m more used to the road now.”
And while it may not have been a surprise to him or his teammates, some of his rivals might have been a bit astonished to see him there to take the bunch sprint for 5th place out of a select group of 26 riders in the sixth stage Saturday, considered the queen stage because it features three high-category climbs in the last 45 miles of the stage.