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By Steve Medcroft, Special to VeloNews.com
ARLINGTON, VA – Ivan Dominguez (HealthNet Maxxis) and Laura Van Gilder (Team Quark) out sprinted their respective break-away companions to win the CSC Invitational on Sunday.
Dominguez was the last sprinter standing in a four-man break formed only thirty minutes from the finish. Break mates Kirk O’Bee (Navigators), Ivan Stevic (Aerospace Engineering-VMG) and Bobby Julich (CSC), after trying several times to attack the HealthNet sprinter, could do nothing more than watch Dominguez power out of the last turn and throw his bike across the line for the win.
Van Gilder nipped Ina Teutenberg (T-Mobile) on the line by a tire’s width to win the women’s race. The pair had ridden 30 seconds off the front of the race for all but the first ten minutes of racing.
In its eighth year, the CSC International (formerly the Clarendon Cup), the second stop in the American Criterium Championship Series, is known for gusty and wicked cross-winds so it may have been a surprise to racers Sunday that the natural element they would have to contend with would be heat. Apart from a few minutes of sweet relief from cloud cover, the entire 100 kilometer men and 50 kilometer women’s pro races were held under unprotected, 80-degree skies.
Add the famously short and flat one-kilometer, five turn circuit, and the stage was set for breakaways of the right make up to survive to the end.
In the women’s race, it was a break that went off early. The back of the 100-woman strong field started to splinter after just two laps as teams, most notably T-Mobile and Team Quark, set a staggering pace at the front to test everyone’s legs.
On it went, rider after rider pressing the front, until German power rider Ina Teutenberg, two-time winner of the event, finally stuck. “I’ve been sick the past few days so the plan was for me to sit in and not do much work,” Teutenberg said after the race. “But I kind of have a problem doing that.”
The only rider who managed to stay on Teutenberg’s wheel was Van Gilder. “This course is suited to a breakaway so Quark knew we wanted to get someone away,” she said at the finish. “Ina is such a strong rider. I was just keying off of her and she made her move right away and I was able to go with her.”
When two-time CSC Invitational winner Teutenberg realized it was Van Gilder, also a previous CSC winner, on her wheel she knew this was a winning pair. Once a gap of a half-lap had been established, the women took turns pulling each other around the short course. The only threat to their sure podium was the fact that, with twenty laps of racing to go, they were creeping dangerously close to the back of the main field
Van Gilder said that even though they didn’t voice a pact, they both seemed to want to stay clear. “We both had teammates up there but I wanted to try and finish the race, you know, woman to woman. It was risk, for sure, but I thought it was worth it.”
Teutenberg agreed. “It seems like we kind of put a gear out and got comfortable; to ride our own race to the end.”
Nervous that she wouldn’t have the snap to out sprint Van Gilder, Teutenberg attacked with a lap and a half to go. “I was expecting something like that,” Van Gilder said. “It took a good effort but I was able to bring her back.”
Which set up the final sprint. “I was in second wheel,” Van Gilder said. “We were going really, really slow the last lap.” Teutenberg came out of the final corner driving and Van Gilder was able to slip past to win by a true tire’s width.
The men’s race at least started more quietly. It was obvious from the beginning that CSC, with this being their sponsor’s home-town race and having both last year’s champion Lars Michaelson and Paris-Nice winner Bobby Julich in the race, were going to be aggressive. For the first thirty minutes, CSC rider after CSC rider sat on or just off the front; Julich himself much of the time.
But 100 kilometers, although short for a pro race, is a long distance for a crit and proved too long for one team to dominate the entire event from start to finish. A little more than an hour in, the first major break, this contained someone from almost every team in the race, stayed out for forty five minutes before being consumed by the field.
An immediate counterattack launched the final four; Julich, Stevic, Kirk O’Bee (Navigators) and Ivan Dominguez (HealthNet). Navigators and HealthNet immediately went to the front of the field to slow it down and the break gained a half lap with under twenty to go.
Dominguez, one of domestic powerhouse HealthNet’s sprint threats, was the major danger for the group: Julich is a road racer, fresh off a one-month break, Stevic is still relatively new to American racing, still young and finding his way, and Navigators would have been preferred Marty Nothstien of Vassily Davidenko in the break against Dominguez.
Stevic, who is originally from Serbia, has been racing in Italy for the past five years and has begun to make a name for himself in his first two months racing in the U.S., seemed the underdog but ended up the aggressor.
“I knew it was going to be difficult to win,” Stevic said, feeling he was overmatched by the other riders in the break. “Because of that I attacked. I was trying to win alone. But those other guys were so good, I couldn’t get away.”
Coming into the final five laps, the field moved their sprinters to the front and formed lead-outs – just in case the break got caught – only to suffer a momentum-killing crash on the final. A tangle of bikes and riders, with Mike Sayers (HelthNet) and Dave McCook (Jelly Belly) seeming to take the worst of it, had to be yanked out of the way just as the four finishers rounded the last turns.
“This is a hard course and I knew I wanted to be in a good position on the last turn,” Dominguez said. “I managed to come around in third wheel.”
The riders went four wide in the final hundred meters and Dominguez finished it off with a strong bike throw.
1 12 Health Net/Maxxis DOMINGUEZ, Ivan
2 26 Navigators Insurance O'BEE, Kirk
3 146 Aerospace Engineering-VMG STEVIC, Ivan
4 6 CSC JULICH, Bobby
5 111 McGuire – Langdale BAHATI, Rahsaan
6 21 Navigators Insurance DAVIDENKO, Vassili
7 45 Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home MC CORMACK, Mark
8 3 CSC BRESCHEL, Matti
9 75 Advantage Benefits-Endeavour MENZIES, Karl
10 186 TARGETRAINING FREYRE, Eneas
11 182 TARGETRAINING TARDAUILA, ALVARO
12 113 McGuire – Langdale SAUNDERS, ERIC
13 118 McGuire – Langdale ALLEN, JASON
14 76 Advantage Benefits-Endeavour PELTONEN, Garrett
15 11 Health Net/Maxxis FRASER, Gord
16 64 Subway Pro Cycling Team HUGHES, CANERON
17 107 Seasilver GRITTERS, Kyle
18 2 CSC BAK, Lars
19 34 Jelly Belly – Pool Gel CANDELARIO, Alex
20 56 Jittery Joes/Kalahari LOWE, Trent
21 142 Aerospace Engineering-VMG CUBRIC,RADISA
22 41 Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home ARTACHO, Gustavo
23 72 Advantage Benefits-Endeavour BOOKWALTER, Brent
24 32 Jelly Belly – Pool Gel ALBERS, Kirk
25 108 Seasilver GUNN, Curtis
26 101 Webcor Builders MATTIS, James
27 132 Team Monex ABRAHAM, Emile
28 7 CSC SCHLECK, Andy
29 115 McGuire – Langdale KILUN, Roman
30 53 Jittery Joes/Kalahari JOHNSON, Tim
31 47 Colavita Olive Oil/Sutter Home PAGE, Jonathan
32 145 Aerospace Engineering-VMG MURPHY, Eric
33 84 Kodak Easyshare Gallery – Sierra Nevada JACQUES-MAYNES, Ben
34 134 Team Monex MILLER, Nathan
1, TEAM QUARK, VANGUILDER, Laura
2 211 T-Mobile TeuTENBERG, Ina
3 241 Ford-Basis FREEDMAN, Nicole
4 220 Velo Bella MC LAUGHLIN, Jill
5 201 VICTORY BREWING COMPANY GRAIN, Gina
6 212 T-Mobile KROEPSH, Lara
7 205 Aaron's Corporate Furnishings/L5Flyers HUTCHISON, Shannon
8 210 TEAM QUARK UHL, Sarah
9 226 Diet Cheerwine MCRAY, JE N
10 203 VICTORY BREWING COMPANY FRANGES, Lauren
11 227 Diet Cheerwine WARFEL, Allie
12 221 Diet Cheerwine BILLINGTON, Kathleen
13 231 Touchstone Climbing BAMBERGER, Sarah
14 276 TEAM FUJI DEDRAAY, Christina
15 216 TEAm Lipton RACHETTO, LIZA
16 232 VICTORY BREWING COMPANY LYONS, Brenda
17 284 HPC/List/Cardinal WILLIAMS, J;ENETTE
18 277 TDS HEIBGEN,SHAWN
19 202 VICTORY BREWING COMPANY MOORE, Amy
20 235 Team Tamarack BLACKWELDER, Brooke
21 248 BMW-Bianchi LUX, Nancy
22 278 TDS POWERS,CATHERINE
23 243 Velo Bella VARDAROS, Christine
24 206 TEAM QUARK WYNTER, Iona
25 213 T-Mobile MUCH, Rebecca
26 251 HPC/List/Cardinal GOLDBERG, Heidi
27 259 Hub Racing O'CONNOR, Brooke
28 218 TEAm Lipton OWERS, Zoe
29 268 Colavita/Cooking Light ESMONDE, Megan
30 270 Colavita/Cooking Light LARSON, Rebecca
31 214 T-Mobile OURADA, Brooke
32 246 Bicycle John's Serious Cycling KOLB, Sandra
33 274 HPC/LIST/Cardinal HEFLER, Susan
34 222 Diet Cheerwine BOWLES, Laura
35 204 VICTORY BREWING COMPANY SHERWIN, Kate
36 237 Team Tamarack MATLOCK, Lisa