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Henderson fastest at Lancaster

Lancaster, Pennsylvania- Heading into June, the big wins just keep coming for the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis. Coming off Ivan Dominguez’s win at the CSC Invitational in Arlington, Virginia, on May 29, Health Net came in to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on May 31 for the 91-mile opening round of the three-race Wachovia Cycling Series as the undisputed top team in the U.S. And the team lived up to its reputation, putting four men into the race-winning 14-rider breakaway and setting up New Zealander Greg Henderson for a bunch sprint victory, beating American national champion

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By Neal Rogers

Henderson

Henderson

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Lancaster, Pennsylvania- Heading into June, the big wins just keep coming for the Health Net Pro Cycling Team presented by Maxxis. Coming off Ivan Dominguez’s win at the CSC Invitational in Arlington, Virginia, on May 29, Health Net came in to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, on May 31 for the 91-mile opening round of the three-race Wachovia Cycling Series as the undisputed top team in the U.S. And the team lived up to its reputation, putting four men into the race-winning 14-rider breakaway and setting up New Zealander Greg Henderson for a bunch sprint victory, beating American national champion Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) to the line.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

For the uninitiated, the ability of the Health Net men in green and black to stand up to ProTour teams such as CSC, Davitamon-Lotto, Liquigas-Bianchi, Discovery Channel, Lampre-Caffita and Saunier Duval-Prodir over the week of racing might have been a reasonable question, but those who remember April’s Dodge Tour de Georgia — where the team put Henderson in the points jersey and confirmed its speed with a final stage win by Gord Fraser — were wise not to doubt.

Health Net’s dominance in the U.S. this season has been nothing short of overwhelming. To put it into perspective, when the team’s Mike Jones won the overall classification at the Tri-Peaks Challenge on May 24, he became the fourth Health Net rider to win a stage race this season, and that race marked the second time this season that Health Net swept every stage en route to winning the overall of a stage race. Of the six stage races Health Net has entered, it has won the overall in five; the only stage race the team didn’t win this year was the Dodge Tour de Georgia, where Henderson won the points competition.

And it was Henderson again on the podium in Lancaster, with teammate Ivan Dominguez by his side as the third-place finisher. Add to that image Health Net’s early breakaway member Doug Ollerenshaw as the day’s King of the Mountains, and the scene was reminiscent of one that’s been replayed many times in a racing season that is only halfway finished.

Hard luck Freddie
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s behind it, but the European-based Rodriguez seems to have some tough luck racing in the U.S. A mid-race crash and subsequent bike problems ruined his chances of victory at last September’s T-Mobile International, and a stomach bug nearly kept him out of the 2004 Lancaster event, where he finished third. Even when he won in Trenton, New Jersey, last year, Rodriguez spent much of the day wrestling with a misadjusted seat post, getting off his bike twice to get things sorted out.

Despite his troubles, Rodriguez was still there for the final sprint

Despite his troubles, Rodriguez was still there for the final sprint

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

This time around it was a series of mishaps that began with most of the Davitamon-Lotto team sitting out the Lancaster race due to a series of travel misadventures. What turned into a 36-hour travel ordeal of extended layovers and misplaced bags and bikes sidelined teammates such as Aussie Henk Vogels, Robbie McEwen’s lead-out man at the Giro d’Italia, and Belgian Nico Mattan, winner of Ghent-Wevelgem in April. Instead, Rodriguez had only one teammate, Wim De Vocht, ready to race.

Before the event, Rodriguez was philosophical about the absence of a team, saying, “The team was planning on using this race as a warm up for Philly anyways.” But as the race unfolded, it grew clear that a teammate was precisely what the three-time and reigning U.S. national champion needed.

Things grew worse for Rodriguez when he developed problems with a pedal on the fifth of 13 7-mile laps. After getting a spare set of matching pedals from Mavic neutral support, Rodriguez — who was racing without a team vehicle in the caravan — dropped the pedals off to his team staff in the feed zone. A lap later, just a few hundred meters from his awaiting spare, a rider overlapped Rodriguez’s wheel and took out his rear derailleur, forcing the Davitamon-Lotto rider to run his bike up hill before making a successful bike swap. And all this was before he made his way into the day’s decisive break.

‘It was a lot do deal with,” Rodriguez said. “But other than that, it was business as usual.”

All according to plan
Now in its 14th year, the 7-mile course offers up a circuit that begins in downtown Lancaster, heads into the rolling hills of Lancaster County Central Park, the site of the day’s feed zone and KOM, and circles through the city’s Victorian storefronts and brick residential neighborhoods before returning to its finish on Queen Street. With a handful of short, steep pitches, it is neither a course for a pure sprinter nor a pure climber. Along the route are local landmarks such as many churches and cemeteries, including the burial site of President James Buchanan, and the strong-smelling Kunzler hot dog factory.

The day was off to a fast and furious start, with CSC’s Paris-Nice and Criterium International winner Bobby Julich setting a fast pace from the gun. On lap 2 Ollerenshaw escaped with Brit Russell Downing (MG-XPower-Litespeed) and Richard England (Advantage Benefits-Endeavour). With Ollerenshaw driving the break at an average speed of 25.2 mph, the trio’s advantage quickly opened to 45 seconds by the beginning of the third lap, and would hold at just under one minute until lap 7.

As the gap began to drop, Columbian Carlos Vargas (Monex) was first to bridge across, and the advantage grew to nearly 1:30. But Vargas had trouble rolling through, and was soon dropped and absorbed by the CSC-driven field.

Next to go across to the leaders were Danny Pate (Jelly Belly-PoolGel) and Lars Bak (CSC), followed shortly by Deniele Colli (Liquigas), John Lieswyn (Health Net) and Italian Davide Frattini (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home). Meanwhile, behind the action a puncture-induced pileup took out Downing’s brother Dean and Eddy Hilger (Advantage-Endeavour) and momentarily disrupted Jittery Joe’s-Kalahari’s Trent Lowe.

With no representation at the head of the race, Discovery Channel drove the chasing peloton, stringing out the field and reeling in the eight-man break with five laps (35 miles) remaining. It would prove to be a Pyrrhic victory, however, as Discovery’s Michael Creed, Fumiyuki Beppu and Leif Hoste immediately went into the red zone and trailed off the back of the field, along with Rodriguez’s sole teammate De Vocht. Also cracked was Webcor Builders’ David Clinger, the winner of the race in 2002.

Health Net at the front
Once the break was reeled in, a string of attacks and counterattacks ensured for a lap and a half, until finally the winning break was formed. And as the team did unsuccessfully at the USPRO Championships and the T-Mobile International last year, it sent half its squad off the front into the 14-man break that included Henderson, Dominguez, Lieswyn and Chris Wherry; Chris Horner and Ivan Ravaioli (Saunier Duval); Karl Menzies and Frank Pipp (Advantage Benefits-Endeavour); Ivan Stevic (Aerospace Engineering); Rodriguez; Marco Marzano (Lampre), Allen Johansen (CSC), Caleb Manion (Jelly Belly) and Russell Downing (MG-XPower-Litespeed).

With former Lancaster winners Rodriguez (1995) and Horner (1996), as well as the clearly motivated Health Net squad, it became clear that this was the race-winning move, and the gap quickly grew to 1:30 with two laps behind. Again Discovery was unrepresented, and together with Navigators Insurance drove a strung-out field. With two laps remaining, Pate and Chris Baldwin (Navigators Insurance) attempted to bridge across, but it was too little, too late, and Baldwin was later seen trailing off the back of the main field.

At the front of the race, Rodriguez was in a bind. “I wasn’t sure whose wheel to follow,” he said. “Chris Wherry was going really, really well. I couldn’t tell if [Health Net] were going to start attacking or save it for a sprint finish.”

In the final lap, CSC’s Johansen was the first to have a go, but Health Net wasn’t having it. Horner and Lampre’s Marzano each then took unsuccessful stabs at escaping, but both were quickly reeled in. Rodriguez’s dilemma had been answered, and his only remaining mystery was whether Health Net would set up Dominguez or Henderson for the win.

With Wherry and Lieswyn driving the train, Health Net had chosen to bring its sprinters to the line, where Dominguez led out Henderson in the final 500 bumpy meters. It was a close finish, with Rodriguez claiming he couldn’t generate the speed he needed out of his 54×11 gearing due to the rough finishing surface.

“I have to hand it to a team like Health Net for stepping up to this caliber of racing,” Rodriguez said.

As for Henderson, the 2004 world scratch race champion was traditionally diplomatic, quickly thanking his teammates. “It really went according to plan,” he said. “When you’ve got a team like ours, and everyone works hard to bring you to the line, you just want to make sure you can do your job.”

The Wachovia Cycling Series continues Thursday with the a 91-mile circuit race in Trenton, New Jersey, and concludes on Sunday with the 156-mile Wachovia USPRO Championship and the 57.6-mile Wachovia Liberty Classic women’s race.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results

1 Greg Henderson (NZl) Health Net – Maxxis, 3:21:28

2 Fred Rodriguez, Davitamon Lotto

3 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Health Net – Maxxis

4 Karl Menzies (Aus) Advantage Endeavour

5 Ivan Ravaioli (I) Suanier Duval – Prodir

6 Chris Horner, Suanier Duval – Prodir

7 Allen Johansen (Dk) Team CSC

8 Caleb Mannion, (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

9 Ivan Stevic SCG Aerospace Engineering

10 Frank Pipp, Advantage Endeavour, at 0:04

11 Marco Marzano (I) Lampre Caffita

12 John Lieswyn, Health Net – Maxxis

13 Chris Wherry, Health Net – Maxxis, at 0:17

14 Lars Bak (Dk) Team CSC, at 1:34

15 Juan Jose Haedo (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil

16 Ben Brooks, (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

17 Jonathan Page, Colavita Olive Oil

18 Danny Pate, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

19 Deniele Colli (I) Liquigas-Bianchi

20 Matti Breschel (Dk) Team CSC

21 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Insurance

22 Erik Saunders, McGuire Pro Cycling

23 Emile Abraham (Tri) Team Monex

24 Lars Michaelsen (Dk) Team CSC

25 Mark Mccormack, Colavita Olive Oil

26 Kirk Albers,, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

27 Mike Sayers, Health Net – Maxxis

28 Gerrit Glomser (Aut) Lampre Caffita

29 Max Vanheeswijk (Nl) Discovery Channel

30 Kyle Gritters, Team Seasilver

31 Chad Hartley, TIAA CREF

32 Glen Mitchell (NZ) Kodak Sierra Nevada

33 Cameron Hughes (Aus) Subway-Express, at 1:40

34 Brice Jones,, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

35 Garret Peltonen, Advantage Endeavour

36 Neil Shirley, Team Seasilver

37 Andy Schleck (Lux) Team CSC

38 Curtis Gunn, Team Seasilver

39 Andreas Matzbacher (Aut) Lampre Caffita

40 Tim Johnson, Jittery Joe's

41 Eric Murphy, Aerospace Engineering

42 Bobby Julich, Team CSC

43 Kirk O'Bee, Navigators Insurance

44 Burke Swindlehurst, Team Seasilver, at 1:45

45 Francisco Ventoso (Sp) Suanier Duval – Prodir

46 Tyler Wren, Colavita Olive Oil

47 Tim Larkin, Kodak Sierra Nevada

48 Dan Bowman, TIAA CREF

49 Stefano Barberi (Brz) TIAA CREF

50 Ben Jacques-Maynes, Kodak Sierra Nevada

51 Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Dk) Team CSC

52 Bruno Langlois (Can) Jittery Joe's

53 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance

54 Gustavo Artacho (Arg) Colavita Olive Oil

55 Charles Dionne (Can) Webcor Cycling Team

56 Angel Gomez (Sp) Suanier Duval – Prodir

57 Roger Hammond (GB) Discovery Channel

58 Kjell Carlstrom (Fin) Liquigas-Bianchi

59 Matej Mugerli (Slo) Liquigas-Bianchi

60 Peter Baker, Snow Valley – Seal On

61 Patrick Mccarty, Discovery Channel

62 Mike Jones, Health Net – Maxxis

63 Alessandro Ballan (I) Lampre Caffita

64 Trent Lowe (Aus) Jittery Joe's

65 James Mattis, Webcor Cycling Team

66 Ruben Lobato (Sp) Suanier Duval – Prodir, at 1:55

67 Aaron Olsen, Colavita Olive Oil, at
2:02

68 Geoff Kabush (Can) Jittery Joe's, at 2:14

69 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net – Maxxis

70 Victor Laza SCG Aerospace Engineering, at 2:17

71 Doug Ollerenshaw, Health Net – Maxxis, at 2:39

72 Samuele Marzoli (I) Lampre Caffita, at 3:58

73 Lief Hoste (B) Discovery Channel,, at 4:09

74 Jeff Louder, Navigators Insurance

75 Matt Dubberly, McGuire Pro Cycling

76 Richard England (Aus) Advantage Endeavour, at 6:00

Did Not Finish

Rashaan Bahati, McGuire Pro Cycling

Chris Baldwin, Navigators Insurance

Jason Bausch, Team Seasilver

Fumyuki Beppu (Jpn) Discovery Channel

Aaron Brown, NERAC.COM

Clemente Cavaliere (I) Aerospace Engineering

David Clinger, Webcor Cycling Team

Mark Collard, Webcor Cycling Team

Todd Cornelius, Subway-Express

Michael Creed, Discovery Channel

Ari De Wilde, NERAC.COM

John Delong, Snow Valley – Seal On

Christopher Deluise, Aerospace Engineering

Wim Devocht (B) Davitamon Lotto

Ryan Dewald, Snow Valley – Seal On

Bart Dockx (B) Davitamon Lotto

Dean Downing (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Russell Downing (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Tim Duggan, TIAA CREF

Thad Dulin, Jittery Joe's

Patrick Dunaway, McGuire Pro Cycling

Evan Elken, Jittery Joe's

Lucas Euser, Webcor Cycling Team

Glenn Fant, Team Monex

Davide Frattini (I) Colavita Olive Oil

Chris Frederick, Aerospace Engineering

Mariano Friedick,, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

Will Frischkorn, TIAA CREF

Nick Gates (Aus) Davitamon Lotto

Hayden Godfrey (NZl) Kodak Sierra Nevada

Josh Goodwin, Team Monex

Ben Greenwood (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Oleg Grishkine (Rus) Navigators Insurance

Ben Haldeman, Webcor Cycling Team

Russell Hamby, Kodak Sierra Nevada

John Hanson, NERAC.COM

Rob Hayles (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Todd Herriott, Colavita Olive Oil

Eddy Hilger, Advantage Endeavour

Adam Hodges Myerson, NERAC.COM

Andy Jacques-Maynes, Webcor Cycling Team

Omer Kem, Subway-Express

Michael Lange, TIAA CREF

Russell Langley, Snow Valley – Seal On

Craig Lewis, TIAA CREF

Benjamin Linsday, Snow Valley – Seal On

Adam Livingston, Team Seasilver

Sterling Magnell, Team Monex

Paul Manning (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Nico Mattan (B) Davitamon Lotto

Remi Mcmanus, Subway-Express

Gennady Mikhaylov (Rus) Discovery Channel

Nathan Miller, Team Monex

Hugh Moran, Aerospace Engineering

Manuele Mori (I) Suanier Duval – Prodir

Mike Norton, NERAC.COM

David O'loughlin (Irl) Navigators Insurance

Nathan O'neill (Aus) Navigators Insurance

Evan Oliphant (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Luciano Pagliarini (Bra) Liquigas-Bianchi

Dario Pieri (I) Lampre Caffita

Oscar Pineda (Gua) NERAC.COM

Marco Pinotti (I) Suanier Duval – Prodir

Cody Powell, NERAC.COM

Jeremy Powers,, Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

Daniel Ramsey, Team Seasilver

Geoff Rapaport, McGuire Pro Cycling

Matty Rice, (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel

David Richter, Subway-Express

Marco Righetto (I) Liquigas-Bianchi

Jake Rytlewski, Advantage Endeavour

Brian Sheedy, Advantage Endeavour

Bryan Smith, TIAA CREF

Shaun Snodden (GB) MG-XPower Litespeed

Jackson Stewart, Kodak Sierra Nevada

Jonny Sundt, Jittery Joe's

Joshua Taylor, Snow Valley – Seal On

Bernard Van Ulden, Webcor Cycling Team

Jurgen Vandenbroek (B) Discovery Channel

Kevin Vanes, Subway-Express

Carlos Vargas (Col) Team Monex

Devon Vigus, McGuire Pro Cycling

Hank Vogels (Aus) Davitamon Lotto

Zach Walker, McGuire Pro Cycling

David Werling, NERAC.COM

Craig Wilcox, Jittery Joe's

Ryan Yee, Team Seasilver

Robbie Yost, Subway-Express

Marco Zanotti (I) Liquigas-Bianchi

Scott Zwizanski, Kodak Sierra Nevada