August 7, 2005 – Billed as the richest Criterium in the world, the $175,000 prize purse in Charlotte, North Carolina attracted 125 of the finest Criterium racers for the 2nd annual event, last evening. With that amount of money on the line, it was going to be a hard-fought event for the competitors, and exciting racing action for the fans in this hotbed of NASCAR country. With the Women’s event preceding the Men’s event, the action had to be curtailed as crashes caused the racing officials to neutralize the speeding women several times.
Racing on a 1.2-mile, bar-bell shaped course with 8-turns-per-lap, the men’s race began fast and just went faster as the twilight brought on the lights for the thousands of screaming fans. With all of the U.S. teams out in force, the early action was initiated by Karl Menzies (Advantage Benefits) as he went solo, early and frequently, for his share of the many $500 and $1,000 premes. The breakaway action was persistent, but with all of the speed and horsepower in the pack, it was clear that it would take an extraordinary effort to stay out in front for any length of time. This didn’t deter several riders as they charged out in front, only to be re-captured a short time later.
Nearing the closing laps of the race, a dangerous breakaway of 6 established themselves off the front with Hilton Clarke representing the Navigators Insurance squad. Unfortunately, last year’s winner Ivan Dominguez was also in the break, so the danger was sensed and the break was neutralized, setting up a field sprint scenario. With about 5 laps remaining, the Colavita squad hit the front to control the race, followed a few laps later by the Jelly Belly squad. The Health Net squad hit the front with 1 lap remaining, but as they entered the last few corners of the race, a crash caused a split near the front of the field, causing a small split. Navigators’ sprinting ace Vassili Davidenko had to hit the brakes, losing out on his bid for the top spots.
Sprinting to the line, it was Colavita’s J.J. Haedo taking the victory over Greg Henderson and Gord Fraser (both Health Net), followed by Ivan Stevic (Aerospace Engineering) and Navigators Insurance’s Hilton Clarke.
1. Juan Jose Haedo (Colavita-Sutter Home)
2. Greg Henderson (Health Net-Maxxis)
3. Gord Fraser (Health Net-Maxxis)
1. Ina Yoko Teutenberg (T-Mobile)
2. Tina Pic (Quark)
3. Nicole Freedman (Ford-Basis)