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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews Senior Writer
Mercury’s Derek Bouchard-Hall has engineering degrees from Princeton and Stanford. The guy’s no dummy. So when people around him are toying with the laws of physics, he knows what to do: hit the brakes. A little smarts went a long way for Bouchard-Hall on Saturday night in Downers Grove, Illinois, as he saved his skin and won the USPRO Criterium warm-up race, the Extran Pro-Am Challenge.
Bouchard-Hall was setting up for a field-sprint finish to the 32-lap race on the tight, one-mile, eight-corner course in Downers Grove, heading into the final turn right alongside Saturn’s Ivan Dominguez and NetZero’s Graeme Miller.
“Dominguez did a beautiful job of trying to hold me off, except he just didn’t back down early enough to take the corner,” said Bouchard-Hall. “We were four abreast, myself, Dominguez, Graeme Miller and one other, and I just put on the brakes and said, I don’t want to fall, and I got a little lucky. I knew someone was falling, and it turned out all of them did, and I made it through.”
Re-accelerating from a dead stop, the defending USPRO criterium champion was able to beat out NetZero’s Hilton Clarke and THF Racing’s Alex Candelario, two others who benefited from the mishap.
“I was mainly trying to look out for my teammate Graeme Miller, so I was sitting on his wheel looking after him a little bit,” said the Australia’s Clarke, “and coming into the corner, I think Ivan Dominguez hit his pedal and took Graeme with him, and I popped out second out of the corner. Derek had a good gap because of the fall, and I just couldn’t reel him in, but I’m happy to be second.”
Candelario moved up as well to claim the third podium spot. “I was probably about eight wheels back going into that corner, and the first guy through tried to pedal through, but going that fast, you can’t pedal through that corner. He just clipped it, took about three guys and then it was just, dead-start sprint,” said Candelario.
In the closing laps, Saturn had taken charge, sending Chris Fisher, Trent Klasna and Soren Petersen to the front with the task of leading out the Cuban sprinter Dominguez. Everything looked good, until the last two turns.
“Saturn took control, did a nice job with the lead out, and we held back, kind of waited,” said Bouchard-Hall. “Mike Sayers and Chris Wherry were the two big guys who kept chipping away at getting me around in good position, and I had decent position coming into the second to last corner. I was four guys back. Soren Petersen was leading out Dominguez, and I believe Graeme Miller got in front of me. And I knew you have to be in really good position coming out of the corner, so I jumped to try to get around them.”
But that’s when Dominguez got too aggressive in trying to hold off the competition. The Cuban took the corner too hot, and Bouchard-Hall and Mercury went off with the win.
While the men’s race provided a possible preview of things to come at the USPRO Criterium championship, the women’s national championship race will bear no resemblance to the women’s warm-up race, the Timex International USCF Women’s Open. That’s because, with foreign riders excluded from the women’s national championship, none of Saturn’s four riders in the top five — Ina Teutenberg, Kristy Scrymgeour, Petra Rossner and Anna Millward — will be around on Sunday.
That didn’t stop the Saturn women from putting on a clinic on Saturday, though. After the German Teutenberg launched an early-race attack and was joined by Australian Scrymgeour and AutoTrader.com’s Katrina Berger, Saturn and AutoTrader effectively shut down the rest of the race. That allowed the lead trio to open up a lead of more than a minute, setting up a two-on-one finish that played right into Saturn’s hands.
Teutenberg, Scrymgeour and Berger worked well together for their race-long breakaway effort, but eventually, Berger knew she would have to attack if she were to have any chance against two Saturns.
“Obviously I had to do something, I wasn’t gonna beat Ina in a sprint,” said Berger. “Not to be defeatist, just that she’s a world class sprinter.”
So the American formulated a plan, to attack from the back on the final lap. Only one problem; Scrymgeour beat her to the punch, attacking through the start-finish line with one lap to go and putting Berger on the defensive.
“I spent the next lap just chasing her down,” said Berger. “Fortunately at least that made her tired, so she basically just led it out for the finish.”
Berger would beat Scrymgeour for second, but had no chance of beating Teutenberg, who sprinted around easily from third position coming off the last turn to take the win.
For Teutenberg, having Scrymgeour and Berger join her on the long attack set things up for a perfect finish. “I knew I wouldn’t make it by myself, and when I saw Kristy and Katrina coming up I knew it was a good situation,” said the German. “I think a lot of the Americans were saving for tomorrow, so by the time we had 20 or 30 seconds, we were pretty sure we could do it.
“I know I’m always fast, and I know I can outsprint her. It would have been really nice if Kristy could have pulled her attack the last lap, she could have gotten a win, but it didn’t work out. Katrina caught her pretty good, and I just sat on, and sprinted at the end.”
On Sunday, Saturn won’t have the numbers in their favor, as only Kimberly Bruckner and Suzanne Sonye will take part in the national championship race. That, of course, didn’t prevent Bruckner from winning the road nationals in Redding in March.
However, the two Saturns will have to contend with seven AutoTrader riders, led by the duo of Berger and Tina Mayolo, as well as a number of other contenders, including defending champion Laura Van Gilder (Verizon Wireless) and Nicole Freedman (Credit Suisse).
Extran Pro-Am Challenge;
1. Derek Bouchard-Hall, Mercury; 2. Hilton Clarke (Aus), NetZero; 3. Alex Candelario, THF Racing; 4. Oleg Grichkine (Rus), Navigators; 5. Juan Pineda, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 6. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators; 7. Jason Waddell, Jelly Belly; 8. Chris Fisher, Saturn; 9. Franky Van Haesebroucke (B), Navigators; 10. Steve Tilford, Extran;
Timex International Women’s Open
1. Ina Teutenberg (G), Saturn; 2. Katrina Berger, AutoTrader.com; 3. Kristy Scrymgeour (Aus), Saturn; 4. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn; 5. Anna Millward (Aus), Saturn; 6. Laura Van Gilder, Verizon Wireless; 7. Tina Mayolo, AutoTrader.com; 8. Deborah Durand, Helen’s-Trek-VW; 9. Nicole Freedman, Credit Suisse; 10. Lyne Bessette (Can), Saturn.