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By Ryan Newill , VeloNews Correspondent
Though it is no longer the “green wave” of yesteryear, the Mercury squad returned to its old tricks in Georgia Saturday night, washing over the front of the Athens Twilight Criterium with five laps to go and giving Canadian Gord Fraser a picture-perfect leadout for his second win under the streetlights.
While Fraser served as closer for the squad, Australian powerhouse Henk Vogels put his nose in the wind all evening long to help the team control the race from the front.
“Henk rides like a bull in a china shop,” was Fraser’s simple summation of his teammates’ work for the evening.
In a promising early move, Ofoto-Lombardi Sport’s Andrew Crater took off after a prime early in the race, only to look back and see the charging Vogels on his wheel, along with David McCook (Prime Alliance) and John Leiswyn (7-Up NutraFig).
With Saturn racing shorthanded with a reduced 3-man team, and Navigators on an extended European swing, all of the major players were represented in the break, and there was clearly no shortage of horsepower. The four-man combination quickly built a half-lap lead on the group, with Crater sitting on as the sole representative of his squad present in Athens.
Soon enough, however, Prime Alliance elected to stick with its original plan of setting up Jonas Carney for a sprint finish, and McCook shied away from the wind as his team moved to the front to tug back the break. Despite several attacks by Vogels to up the pace of the break, everything was back together by the halfway mark.
From that point, it was a battle for control as the Mercury, Prime Alliance, and Schroeder Iron squads all worked to keep the pace high and prevent further efforts from spoiling a sprinter’s finale. As Mercury played its hand to perfection on the last lap, with Derek Bouchard-Hall delivering Fraser into the final corner, and last year’s winner Graeme Miller (Mercury) sweeping behind, Prime Alliance was busy playing out its own game.
Carney, a notoriously fast criterium sprinter but never an Athens winner, was in position behind long-time leadout man McCook, but couldn’t outmatch his teammate’s and Fraser’s turn of speed. McCook and Carney did hold off the rest of the field to give the second-year team a very respectable two-three finish.
In the women’s event, the Saturn team reinforced their position as the 400 pound gorilla of women’s cycling by working hard at the front early in the race to cut the group, and then keeping Ina Teutenberg safe and sound until she unleashed her world-class sprint to nip hometown favorite Tina Mayolo-Pic by a bikelength.
The men’s and women’s criteriums were the crowning events of a weekend of racing and music, which also included USCF events, mountain bike races, a fat tire criterium, handcycling, and children’s races.
ATHENS CRITERIUM, Athens, GA. April 27.;;
1. Gord Fraser, Mercury; 2. David McCook, Prime Alliance; 3. Jonas Carney, Prime Alliance; 4. Greg Henderson, 7-Up NutraFig; 5. Hayden Godfrey, 7-Up NutraFigl 6. Derek Bouchard-Hall, Mercury; 7. Andrew Crater, Ofoto-Lombardi Sport; 8. Chad Gerlach, Sierra Nevada ; 9. Graeme Miller, Mercury; 10. Chris Pic, Choco Andean Coffee; 11. Unknown; 12. James Palonetti, Schroder Iron; 13. John Lieswyn, 7-Up NutraFig; 14. Alex Candelario, Prime Alliance; 15. Dan Schmatz, 7-Up NutraFig; 16. Juan Pineda, 7-Up NutraFig; 17. Jeff Hopkins, Choco Andean Coffee; 18. Hilton Clark, Schroder Iron; 19. Eric Wohlberg, Saturn; 20. Pat McCallion, Fairway-Cyfac; 21. Scott Edge, OLP Racing; 22. Jason Snow, Fuji Racing Team; 23. Max Finkbeiner, Choco Andean Coffee; 24. Cameron Hughes, Pharmacia; 25. Frank Pipp, GDVC; 26. James Sweeney, JRC; 27. Travis Hutchinson, Krystal; 28. Ryan Barnett, Krystal; 29. John Peters, Prime Alliance; 30. Victor Ripinski, Saturn; 31. Russell Stevenson, Prime Alliance; 32. Leon Vogels, Mercury; 33. Plamon Stoyanov, Mercury; 34. Henk Vogels, Mercury; 35. Kevin Miller, Veloclips-Sun and Ski; 36. Shawn Willard, Evergreen-Easton;;
1. Ina Teutenberg, Saturn; 2. Tina Mayolo-Pic, Diet Rite; 3. Becky Conzelman, Freddy Fu; 4. Emily Gloeckner, Veritas; 5. Joanne Kiesnowski, Diet Rite; 6. Jenny Eyerman, Santa Cruz-Spokesman; 7. Laura Van Gilder, Trek Plus; 8. Candice Blickem, Cycles de Oro; 9. Cristina Underwood, Team Fuji; 10. Mandy Poitras, Atlanta Velo; 11. Stacy Peters, Atlanta Velo; 12. Sherri Stedje, BBC; 13. Lara Kroepsch, Trek Plus; 14. Tracy Sproule, Atlanta Velo; 15. Kelly Helen, Verizon Wireless-Cervelo; 16. Tania Miller, Freddie Fu; 17. Iona Wynter, Genesis Scuba; 18. Angela Vargas, Genesis Scuba; 19. Margell Abel, Veritas ; 20. Giselle Trahan, Genesis Scuba; 21. Clharmian Breon; 22. Jennifer Cooper, Genesis Scuba; 23. Lynn Brotzman; 24. Lauren Granges, Amoroso’s-HH Racing Team; 25. Kerry Soraci, Diet Rite; 26. Sophie St. Jacques, Trek Plus; 27. Lorraine Manning, Atlanta Velo; 28. Petra Ford, Verizon Wireless-Cervelo; 29. Alison Brown, Genesis Scuba; 30. Rebecca Quinn, East Coast Velo-Cycledrome; 31. Cindy Tompkins, Bike Route Racing; 32. Lenora Felker, Amorosos HH Racing; 33. Beth Leasure, Artemis Racing; 34. Josephine Babin, MFS; 35. Suzanne Sonye, Saturn; 36. Kristy Scrymgeour, Saturn; 37. Kimberly Davidge, Saturn