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USPRO Criterium National Championships – Navigators Report

August 21, 2005 – The criterium riders had their day in the sun today in the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove, with the 100Km USPRO Criterium National Championship. As always, the pace was kept high throughout by an endless series of attacks and counter-attacks on the 1-mile, figure-8 course. The strong sun, temperatures around 90 Fahrenheit, and numerous fast sprinters kept the action hot for the large crowd gathered for the race.

After sprinting for the $1,000 half-way bonus, the racing action picked up dramatically as several teams began to attack in earnest to create a selection, or at the very least, make life hard for those riders that wanted an easy ride to the finish. The Navigators Insurance squad repeatedly had riders going out in breakaways, but the presence of representation from most of the other strong teams all but guaranteed a lack of motivation.

A break of six riders looked to have a good advantage and made their way out to 40-seconds. With only two Americans in the mix, the potential for success was high as only the first American rider can claim the Championship Title, so all of the leaders had a reason to drive hard. But, as all of the other breakaways before, this escape would be doomed with about 20-laps remaining.

As the lap cards displayed 15-to-go, Navigators Insurance’s Kirk O’Bee went on the attack and was quickly joined by veteran John Lieswyn (HealthNet) and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Kodak/Sierra Nevada). The all-American trio gained an advantage that stretched to 35-seconds over the next few laps. The 3 leaders pushed on as the lap counters fell, and it appeared that this might be the escape that would work. The Colavita team put several of their riders on the front of the single-file peloton, but their speed wasn’t enough to put a big dent in the gap to the leaders. Sensing the danger of not being in the move, the Jelly-Belly squad added some help, and with the full Colavita team now working, the gap to the leaders began to come down.

With only three laps remaining, the frenzied crowd saw the 3 breakaways reeled in and the setup for a field sprint began to form. The speeding peloton surged even faster as the sprinters hit the front, sitting behind their lead-out men. As the usual jostling and bumping kept the faint-at-heart holding their breath, the riders flew through the final lap with physics defying speed, and into the final corner, 150-meters from the line. At the line it was too close for the officials to call, but the result was an exciting sprint with Tyler Farrar (HealthNet) taking the win, and the Criterium National Champion’s Jersey, in a photo finish with Dave McCook (Jelly-Belly). Navigators’ soon to retire Olympic Gold Medalist Marty Nothstein finished in sixth.

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