August 29, 2005 – Binghamton, New York, was the scene of this weekend’s NRC racing with the 22nd running of the Chris Thater Memorial Criterium. The event, named in memory of local racer Chris Thater, who was killed by a drunken driver while training, is known as one of the toughest criteriums in the east. The 50-mile race is part of a 2-day festival that benefits the Broome County Stop-DWI program. The 7-corner course is fast, but features a short and demanding hill that quickly reduces the peloton dramatically.
With several past champions on the line, and the 3 strongest U.S. squads in attendance, the race would go to the strongest, and perhaps the fastest. The Navigators Insurance squad went out aggressively with 2-time winner Mark Walters and David O’Loughlin trading attacks to soften up the field. Joining in the frenzy was John Lieswyn and Scott Moninger (both Health Net) and Davide Frattini (Colavita), amongst several others. The field kept breaking apart, but for one reason or another came back together after giving the various combinations of escapees just a handful of seconds. As the lap-counter hit the single digits, the final breakaway was slowly reeled back in by 4 of the Colavita riders, setting up a field sprint. The Navigators team was just behind, with Olympic Sprint Champion Marty Nothstein getting the nod as designated sprinter.
The field was all-together as the riders passed the finish line with 1-lap-to-go. It’s a short jog to the left, slightly downhill, and about 150-meters to the line from the final corner. As the sprinters came into view, it was Colavita’s Mark McCormack taking the win, edging out Navigators’ Vassili Davidenko and Hayden Godfrey (Kodak-Sierra Nevada). Limping in about a minute behind was Nothstein, suffering from a puncture on the final lap of the race.