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Bissell’s Steven Howard wins the first stage of the Tour de Nez.

The Tour de Nez, a five-stage race that bills itself as "the Coolest Race in America," got underway Wednesday with a criterium at a Reno, Nevada, casino. The Bissell team gave Michigan's Steven Howard a perfect lead out, setting him up for a bike-length win ahead of Riccardo Escuela (Successful Living) and Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics). [nid:77952]

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By Briggs Heaney

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Bissell Pro Cycling and Steven Cozza (Slipstream/Chipotle) respond to the move

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Bissell Pro Cycling and Steven Cozza (Slipstream/Chipotle) respond to the move

Photo: Action Images

The Tour de Nez, a five-stage race that bills itself as “the Coolest Race in America,” got underway Wednesday with a criterium at a Reno, Nevada, casino.

The Bissell team gave Michigan’s Steven Howard a perfect lead out, setting him up for a bike-length win ahead of Riccardo Escuela (Successful Living) and Eric Wohlberg (Symmetrics).

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Michael Sayers (BMC Pro Cycling) and Roman Kilun (HealthNet) launch a mid-race attack.

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Michael Sayers (BMC Pro Cycling) and Roman Kilun (HealthNet) launch a mid-race attack.

Photo: Action Images

Unlike in previous years when the Tour de Nez was an omnium, based on individual points earned in each stage, this season’s race is a true stage race, where the overall winner is the rider with the lowest total time combined for the five stages.

The criterium was contested over a 1.04 mile loop around the parking lot of the Grand Sierra resort, with a slightly uphill finish.

At the start, the BMC team attacked, first with Jackson Stewart and then with Mike Sayers. They were never able to gain a significant gap, as Bissell contained any breakaways. Riding at the front, sometimes as many as five strong, Bissell looked to be sending a signal that it would control the week’s racing.

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:The Bissell Pro Cycling team was on high alert at the front of the field.

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:The Bissell Pro Cycling team was on high alert at the front of the field.

Photo: Action Images

The field remained largely together for the first hour of the 75-minute race, but as the time continued to tick down, multiple attacks went off the front. Steven Cozza of Slipstream-Chipotle went away with Aaron Olson of Bissell, but was pulled back by BMC, who were trying to set up the sprint for their designated rider Taylor Tolleson. Finally, in a surprise move with five laps to go in the race, local favorite Alex Candelario went off on his own in an attempt at a solo victory.

Candelario explained his attack to the media after the race. “I probably went a little bit too early, but we were just trying to mix it up and make it a fun race. Next thing I knew, I had a pretty big gap and decided to keep it going. Bissell had twice as many guys as everyone else, though, so they brought it back pretty easily.”

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Steven Cozza (Slipstream/Chipotle) starts an attack through the finishing stretch.

2008 Tour de Nez, stage 1:Steven Cozza (Slipstream/Chipotle) starts an attack through the finishing stretch.

Photo: Action Images

Candelario said he still has a lot of fight left in him, and will target the downtown Truckee criterium, a race he won last year, on Thursday. “I’m gonna win tomorrow. Yeah, I got it.”

After reeling in Candelario on the back stretch of the final lap, Bissell kept the pace high, discouraging any attacks.

As they approached the finish line, the field was spread out ten wide. Bissell began the lead out at about 300 meters for Howard, who took the win by more than a bike length.

Besides the stage win, Howard took the race’s first overall leader’s jersey, as well as the best sprinter title. The best young rider jersey went to Roman Van Uden of Team Rubicon-Orbea.

Racing continues Thursday with a 2.75 mile mountain time trial to the Village at Northstar resort in north Lake Tahoe, and then a timed 75-minute evening criterium in downtown Truckee. The morning time trial should provide for a major shift in the GC standings, while the evening criterium will provide another chance for the fast finishers to shine.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Steven Howard, in 01:15:52 at s.t.
2. Ricardo Escuela, at s.t.
3. Eric Wohlberg, Symmetrics at s.t.
4. Andrew Bajadali, Kelme – Costa Blanca at s.t.
5. Brian Buchholz, Kelme – Costa Blanca at s.t.
6. Roman Kilun, at s.t.
7. Jackson Stewart, BMC Pro Cycling at s.t.
8. Michael Sayers, BMC Pro Cycling at s.t.
9. Victor Ayala, at s.t.
10. Steven Cozza, at s.t.
11. Ben Raby, at s.t.
12. Devon Vigus, Caldirola at s.t.
13. Jonathan Baker, at s.t.
14. Daniel Bowman, Kelme – Costa Blanca at s.t.
15. Ian Holt, at s.t.
16. Roman Van Uden, at s.t.
17. Andy Jacques-maynes, Caldirola at s.t.
18. Justin Kerr, Liquigas at s.t.
19. Joseph Pinkerton, at s.t.
20. Andres Gil, at s.t.
21. Karl Bordine, at s.t.
22. Aaron Olson, at s.t.
23. Corey Collier, at s.t.
24. Justin England, at s.t.
25. Kris Koke, Liquigas at s.t.
26. Ben Bradshaw, at s.t.
27. Dylan Clark, at s.t.
28. Matthew Cooke, at s.t.
29. Adam Livingston, at s.t.
30. Scott Nydam, BMC Pro Cycling at s.t.
31. Ian Mckissick, BMC Pro Cycling at s.t.
32. Tom Zirbel, at s.t.
33. Carson Miller, at s.t.
34. Paul Mach, at s.t.
35. Brandon Gritters, at s.t.
36. Dirk Friel, at s.t.
37. Burke Swindlehurst, at s.t.
38. Chris Demarchi, at s.t.
39. Jesse Moore, Caldirola at s.t.
40. Logan Hunn, at s.t.
41. Justin Spinelli, Kelme – Costa Blanca at s.t.
42. Christian Kearney, at s.t.
43. Morgan Schmitt, at s.t.
44. Nathaniel Deibler, at s.t.
45. Adam Switters, at s.t.
46. Randy Reichardt, at s.t.
47. Alex Candelario, Kelme – Costa Blanca at s.t.
48. Shaun Morris, at s.t.
49. Eric Bennett, in 01:16:32 at 00:00:40
50. Edgar Parra, at s.t.
51. Bradley White, in 01:16:43 at 00:00:51
52. Paul Che, in 01:17:40 at 00:01:48
53. Josh Horowitz, Liquigas in 01:17:58 at 00:02:06
54. Joshua Bartlett, at s.t.
55. Chuck Coyle, in 01:18:56 at 00:03:04
56. Ben Knellar, Jittery Joe’s Coffee in 01:19:10 at 00:03:18
57. Graham Howard, at s.t.
58. John Hunt, Caldirola at s.t.
59. James Mattis, Caldirola at s.t.
60. Tim Srenaski, in 01:19:18 at 00:03:26
61. Omer Kem, in 01:19:20 at 00:03:28
62. Joao Correia, at s.t.
63. Logan Loader, at s.t.
64. Timothy Farnham, in 01:19:54 at 00:04:02
65. Michael Jacques, in 01:20:01 at 00:04:09
66. Matthew Seagrave, at s.t.
67. Andy Bestwick, in 01:20:16 at 00:04:24
68. James Gunn-wilkinson, in 01:21:55 at 00:06:03
69. Jonathan Coulter, Webcor in 01:22:55 at 00:07:03
70. Chris Swan, at s.t.
71. Eddy Kwon, T-Mobile in 01:23:17 at 00:07:25
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