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SpiderTech’s Roth wins Univest Grand Prix

2011 Univest Grand Prix photos by Brian Hodes
The uphill drag race to the finish. Photo: Brian Hodes

Canadian Ryan Roth of Team SpiderTech powered by C10 capped an aggressive team race at the Univest Grand Prix Saturday, winning from a three-man sprint after counter-attacking once teammate Francois Parisien was caught after a 75-mile breakaway.

Roth flew up the right side of the downhill into an uphill finish, out-kicking Americans Frank Pipp (Bissell Pro Cycling) and Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home) to win the 100-mile, dual-sanctioned UCI and USA Cycling National Racing Calendar event. In the 2007 edition of the Univest Grand Prix, Roth was runner-up to Will Frischkorn.

“It’s definitely a sprint that helps if you’ve done it a few times,” Roth said. “The timing is really crucial, even more so than just having strong legs. I knew I had to get some good momentum and come from behind Tom and just jump first.”

Pipp and Roth attacked with three laps to go on a 4.5-mile finish circuit, maintaining a gap of about 40 seconds for the last nine miles of the race.

“The race kept getting harder and harder, and, as it gets longer, you get more tired,” Roth said. “I was just waiting for a good opening to exploit that.”

Zirbel decided to bridge with a lap remaining, catching Pipp and Roth with about a mile remaining.

“I just went into time trial mode, and it hurt,” Zirbel said. “I felt the 100 miles we already had in our legs. The pace wasn’t that hard all day, but the course just makes it so difficult. Those steep kickers just catch up with you in the fourth hour. I was definitely feeling it, and wish I had caught them a bit earlier.”

The difficult course proved beneficial for Parisien and Garneau Club Chaussures rider Brett Tivers when they attacked just a few miles into the race. Parisien said the two know each other, so it was a good combination.

“From the gun I went on the attack, I went uphill,” Parisien said. “I knew Brett was strong and my teammates were behind and were fresh. They were also coming from big races, so I knew they were on form. I was pretty confident we could get this one. We planned the race perfectly, raced aggressive and wore out all the other teams.”

Parisien attacked Tivers with 35 miles to go, a move that ultimately earned him The Intelligencer Most Aggressive Rider jersey and best climber honors. Tivers took home the Leidy’s Pork Products sprint jersey and Team SpiderTech powered by C10 earned the best team award.

“At one point I said we’re pretty close from the little laps, the final five laps,” Parisien said. “I saw two minutes and thought ‘man, I still feel good, I might as well go for it.’ I went as hard as I could and then it dropped down real quickly. When it was at one minute I completely sat up.”

However, after several failed attempts to bridge by various riders, the field began chasing the break, dropping the gap from slightly more than two minutes to 45 seconds within a single lap.

Univest Grand Prix Promoter John Eustice said the race was exactly what he imagined. This was the 14th year for the event that was preceded by the Cyclosportif 100K, a fully-supported bicycle ride through four counties on many of the same roads used in the race.

“This race satisfied all my hopes and aspirations,” Eustice said. “It was hard-fought, it was dramatic, it enthralled the public and united the town. It showed how strong the North American racing class is, and what a great performance we’re capable of putting on.”

Sunday is the Univest Grand Prix Criterium of Doylestown, a 50-mile, 35-lap race on a 1.4-mile circuit.

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