By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Not everyone came to race, but the ones who did gave the crowd in downtown Miami plenty to cheer about at the final stop of the Pro Cycling Tour on Sunday.
In the men’s race in was recent Prime Alliance addition Chris Horner getting to the line first in the 85-minute, plus five laps criterium that snaked its way around a 1.4-mile circuit in the shadow of the city’s skyscrapers. The event was originally slated to run 90 minutes, but when CycleScience’s Joel Chavez crashed hard into a barrier near the end of the first lap and had to be taken to the hospital, the race was neutralized, then stopped and restarted.
Sixteen minutes after the restart, Horner, Mercy’s Brice Jones and Defeet’s Roberto Gagioli escaped from the field. Once away the threesome slowly built a gap that would peak near a minute. Initially, the field seemed unconcerned with the early move, but when it became clear that the three runaways were not slowing down, U.S. Postal’s Antonio Cruz led out a chase group of 10 that included Horner’s Prime Alliance teammate Jonas Carney.
Carney’s presence in the chase would end up being the difference, as Horner was able to sit on his two companions during the final laps, knowing he had the speedy Carney to back him up if the chase managed to close the gap. And while the chasers did manage to cut the deficit to just 18 seconds with three laps to go, that’s as close as they would come. Meanwhile, the well-rested Horner was able to give Jones and Gagioli the slip halfway through the final lap, crossing the line two seconds in front.
“When we first got away I was driving as hard as the other two,” Horner explained. “But at the end I was doing as little as possible. That’s the way you play the game.”
Added second-place finisher Jones, “Chris had the best seat in the break. He made us do all the work. It was perfect teamwork.”
The 39-year-old Gagioli settled for third.
Carney, who won Saturday’s International Cycling Invitational courtesy of a perfect leadout from Horner, capped a stellar weekend for the Prime Alliance squad by taking Sunday’s bunch sprint for fourth place.
“Tactically today was perfect,” Carney said. “When I made the second break we both had a free ride because no matter what anyone did we had an answer.”
Indeed, that’s been the case in almost every race since Horner left the financially troubled Mercury team just prior to the Pro Cycling Tour event in Irvine, California. Including that race, Prime Alliance’s new dynamic duo has won four of the five races they’ve entered.
“I can’t wait to do a full season with Chris,” Carney said. “We’ve definitely got something going.”
While Horner, Carney and the rest were battling at the front, most of the race’s other big names never made it anywhere near the finish. US Pro winner Fred Rodriguez was a no show; U.S. Postal star George Hincapie and Saturn’s Trent Klasna showed up to acknowledge the crowd at the start, but were both gone just seven laps in; and Mercury track star Marty Nothstein had intentions of finishing, but tore a cleat off his shoe in a early-race crash and had to abandon.
“I’m way out of shape right now,” said Hincapie, whose career-best year included wins at the Belgium classic Ghent-Wevelgem and the inaugural San Francisco Grand Prix. “I’m down here to have fun.”
Klasna, who also had a career year, capped 2001 by receiving the winner’s trophy for the Pro Cycling Tour, an honor he’d wrapped up long before coming to Miami.
“I’ve had a lot of bad luck in the past,” Klasna said, “but this year everything seemed to go my way.”
Hincapie ended up second in the final PCT standings, followed by Postal Service teammate Julian Dean.
In the women’s race, Sunday’s result was the reverse of Saturday’s, as AutoTrader.com’s Tina Mayolo-Pic nipped Litespeed’s Shannon Hutchinson at the end of the 1-hour race, which saw the lead group stay together throughout.
“I had the advantage today because I was behind her and I could see what she was doing,” said Mayolo-Pic of a sprint that saw her win by just .001 of a second.
“Today’s kind of frustrating because I’ve had so may close finishes this year,” said Hutchinson, who beat Mayolo-Pic by a similarly small margin a day earlier.
Defeet’s Lynn Brotzman matched beau Gagioli’s finish, taking third on Sunday. Tri-State Velo’s Lenora Felker grabbed third place in the Saturday race.
In the chase for the women’s overall PCT title the Saturn trio of Anna Millward, Ina Teutenberg and Petra Rossner had already locked up the top three places and didn’t make the trip to Miami.
PRO CYCLING TOUR GRAND FINALE, Miami, FL. October 21; Men; 1. Chris Horner, Prime Alliance; 2. Brice Jones, Mercy Cycling Team; 3. Roberto Gagioli, Defeet; 4. Jonas Carney, Prime Alliance; 5. Kevin Monahan, 7UP-Coloradio Cyclist; 6. Andrew Crater, RealityBikes.com; 7. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service; 8. Mike Zingaro, Mercy Cycling Team; 9. Steve Mlujeak, Jamis; 10. Jay Moglia, NCVC; Women; 1. Tina Mayolo-Pic, AutoTrader.com; 2. Shannon Hutchinson, Litespeed; 3. Lynn Brotzman, Defeet; 4. Sherri Stedje, BBC; 5. Ashley Kimmet, Gatorade; 6. Kerry Soraci, Gatorade; 7. Rebecca McClintock, Gatorade; 8. Elizabeth Wencel-Stone, Hurricane Cycles; 9. Tracy Sproule, Litespeed; 10. Beth Leasure, Gatorade; International Cycling Invitational, Miami, FL. October 20; Men; 1. Jonas Carney, Prime Alliance; 2. Kevin Monahan, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 3. Oscar Pineda, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 4. Brice Jones, Mercy Cycling Team; 5. Chad Gerlach, Lienna Nevada; 6. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service; 7. Roberto Gagioli, Defeet; 8. Ivan Dominguez, Saturn; 9. Andrew Crater, RealityBikes.com; 10. Diego Javier, Columbia; Women; 1. Shannon Hutchinson, Litespeed; 2. Tina Mayolo-Pic, AutoTrader.com; 3. Leona Felker, Tri-State Velo; 4. Kerry Soraci, Gatorade; 5. Elizabeth Wencel-Stone, Hurricane Cycles; 6. Rebecca McClintock, Gatorade; 7. Sherri Stedge, BBC; 8. Ashley Kimmet, Gatorade; 9. Tracy Sproule, Litespeed; 10. Maria Calle, Columbia