June 26, 2008 (Bedford, PA) – The longest stage of the American Eagle Outfitters Tour of Pennsylvania presented by Highmark Healthy High 5 was made even more epic when strong winds and rain threatened the international field at the starting line in Camp Hill. While the sun broke through the clouds, neither the remaining gusting winds nor the many kilometers ahead could hold back cycling’s U-25 world-class up-and-comers from their visions of a Stage 3 victory.
Starting in Camp Hill at presenting sponsor Highmark’s campus, Stage 3 featured a 165-kilometer road race with a classic European road race sequence, and it all began on the rolling country roads that Pennsylvania is known for. A truly valiant effort on behalf of the breakaway rider from America Peter Stetina (VMG-Felt), who gained nearly four minutes on a 40 rider chase group, came to a dramatic closing on the streets of Bedford when the soloist was caught just 100 meters to the finish line.
“It was very tough out there on my own, but I felt really, really good,” said Stetina whose lengthy breakaway efforts earned him both the Forbes Trail Most Aggressive rider and the VisitPA.com KOM winners jerseys. “It was a pure headwind and a false flat and without this, I think I could have taken the win. All losing did was make me mad, and I’m going to come back tomorrow and win. It’s on, this is my race now.”
The dwindled field, a result of strong head winds and tough terrain, came barreling onto the finishing straight away with the triumph in sight. American Jamie Driscoll (Fiordifrutta) took a slim victory ahead of Sheldon Deeny (Sakonnet Technology/USA) and David Veilleux (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast/CAN).
“I was dying hanging onto the chase group while Kelly Benefits and Johan Bruyneel teams were doing all the work to catch Stetina,” said stage winner Driscoll. “I don’t know where my sprint came from, but I am really surprised to win here today.”
Belgian Steven Van Vooren (Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy) was surprised to have been presented the prestigious American Eagle Outfitters yellow race leader jersey for the third consecutive stage.
“I’m very happy to be leading this event,” said Van Vooren who landed the leading role at the Stage 1 prologue and expected to have to give it up on the climbing stages. “My team worked really hard today to hold onto it but I’m not sure we can do it again tomorrow where the climbs are more difficult.”
The strong international field steadily increased to their maximum speeds as they passed through the first 60 kilometers. The sprinters were given their chance to play in the stage’s intermediate sprint competitions located in Carlisle and Chambersburg, before beginning the arduous ascent at the foothills of the Allegheny mountain range. Canadian Keven LaCombe (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) continued to lead the Best Sprinter competition. Mid-race, the peloton veered onto HWY 30, a historically significant route that the event was designed to follow along the Forbes Trail, forged in 1758 by British General John Forbes and the young Colonel George Washington.
The world’s strongest U-25 climbers rode past a plentiful following of fans who cheered as the cyclists battled against one another over the first VisitPA.com KOM located at kilometre 105, a 5.6-kilometers steep gradient to the top of Tuscarora Summit.
Stetina, a native of Boulder, Colo., and a descendant of a long line of championship bike racers, grew up climbing throughout one of the world’s steepest mountain ranges –The Rocky Mountains. The young climber proved true to his natural ascending ability when he stormed ahead of the peloton over the first mountain pass and became the virtual American Eagle Outfitters overall race leader, gaining more than a three minute lead over his nearest competitors.
Stetina continued to increase his lead over 40 chasers, riding into the second decisive VisitPA.com KOM, located at mile 82, 4.8 kilometres to the top of Sideling Hill, an elevation gain of 2,500 feet.
The technically skilled peloton descended at speeds of 80 km/h in a successful chase led by the yellow jersey Van Vooren and his Johan Brunyeel Cycling Academy along with help from Canadian Keven LaCombe’s team Kelley Benefit Strategies-Medifast (second place overall after Stage 2) and third place South African Christoff Van Heerden’s Konica Minolta trying to gain back valuable time while negotiating some very technical turns before racing for Bedford’s finish line.
1. James Driscoll (USA) Fiordifrutta Cycling Team 4:13:55
2. Sheldon Deeny (USA) Sakonnet Technology
3. David Veilleux (Can) Kelly Benefits/Medifast
4. Peter Salon (USA) VMG/Felt
5. Herman Fouche (RSA) Konica Minolta
7. Keven Lacome (Can) Kelly Benefits/Medifast
25. Keir Place (Can) Team RACE Pro
43. Mark Pozniak (Can) Team RACE Pro 4:25:04
44. Joel Dion-Poitras (Can) Team RACE Pro
50. Adam Thuss (Can) Team RACE Pro 4:27:47
85. Andrew Hunt (Can) Team RACE Pro 4:40:16
90. Mark Batty (Can) Team RACE Pro 4:41:35
GC after Stage 3
1. Steven Van Vooren (BEL) Johan Bruyneel Cycling Academy
2. Keven LaCombe (Can) Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast
3. Christoff Van Heerden (Konica Minolta)
– King of the Mountain & Most Aggressive Rider: Peter Stetina (USA) VMG/Felt USA
– Sprinter:Keven Lacombe (Can) Kelly Benefits/Medifast
– Youngest Rider: Peter Salon (USA) VMG/Felt