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Metlushenko and Teutenberg take first race of Philly Week

Launching what his competitors called a late-race hail Mary, Ukraine’s Yuri Metlushenko scored a razor-thin sprint win in Tuesday’s Lehigh Valley Classic. Aussie Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) was second by half a tire width at the opening round of the 2008 Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, with American Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) trailing home in third.

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Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - Metlushenko nips Karl Menzies at the line.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – Metlushenko nips Karl Menzies at the line.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Launching what his competitors called a late-race hail Mary, Ukraine’s Yuri Metlushenko scored a razor-thin sprint win in Tuesday’s Lehigh Valley Classic. Aussie Karl Menzies (Health Net-Maxxis) was second by half a tire width at the opening round of the 2008 Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling, with American Brad Huff (Jelly Belly) trailing home in third.

Metlushenko’s win came at the end of a 12-lap, 85-mile battle on the rolling roads of Allentown, Pennsylvania, the Keystone’s state’s third largest city. This was the first running of the Lehigh event, which replaced the former Triple Crown series opener in Lancaster.

The new-for-2008 circuit traced a rectangular path from downtown Allentown, across the Little Lehigh River, and up the scenic and rolling Lehigh Parkway before returning downtown via West Hamilton Street. While by no means a climber’s course, the 7.1-mile circuit tested riders with a steady stream of punchy, leg-sapping rollers. Still, when the endgame unfolded it was the fast men taking center stage.

“You really had to pay attention the whole day,” explained Huff, who after the Triple Crown series will head to Los Angeles in hopes of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic track cycling team. “Speeds were high all day. This was really a power man’s race. The sprint was really fast, but the hill before it really shook things up a little. People were trying to go from a long way out.”

Indeed, pre-race favorites such as Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) and Rock Racing’s Fred Rodriguez were non factors in the final outcome, while the heretofore unknown Metlushenko was thrusting his hands in the air in triumph. That final move almost cost the Amore & Vita-McDonald’s rider the win, as Menzies came oh-so-close to nipping him at the line.

“I was sure I would win and was thinking about making a good finish line picture,” recalled Metlushenko, who has a large scar near his right eye that belies his career as a bike racer. “But then I got scared when I saw how close it is. I won’t ever do that again.”

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - BMC's Jeff Louder in the break.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – BMC’s Jeff Louder in the break.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The first half of the Lehigh race was marked by a series of repeated – but fruitless – attacks. Among the riders trying escape at various times were Bissell’s Aaron Olson, Brian Jensen (Team Successfulliving), Pennsylvanian Kyle Wamsley (Colavita-Sutter Home), Jason Donald (Slipstream-Chipotle) and Colavita’s Tyler Wren. None could make their moves stick for any significant length of time, and the race was all back together at the halfway point.

The first real move of consequence came during lap 7 when Jeff Louder (BMC Racing), Frank Pipp (Health Net-Maxxis), Luis Romero (Colavita-Sutter Home), and Canadian strongman Svein Tuft (Symmetrics) took off. They quickly rolled up a 50-second advantage, with Toyota-United’s Ivan Stevic, Slipstream’s Mike Friedman and Alberto Curtolo (Liquigas) all trying to bridge across. The bunch was having none of the second move, and the chasers were soon back in the field.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - Glen Chadwick leads the break up the climb.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – Glen Chadwick leads the break up the climb.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The four escapees continued to work off the front during the next four laps, but their advantage never exceeded a minute and it was clear the sprinters’ team were in control. The break eventually split up, with Pipp and Tuft pushing ahead, while Louder and Romero drifted back.

The move was then momentarily re-energized when seven new riders pulled off the front of the field and bridged up, creating a dangerous lead group that included Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United), Kasper Klostergaard (Team CSC), Bernardo Tepoz (Tecos-Trek), Martijn Maaskant (Slipstream-Chipotle), John Murphy (Health Net-Maxxis), Eric Baumann (Team Sparkasse), Glen Chadwick (Team Type 1), Tuft (Symmetrics) and Romero. But the field was chasing hard and the race was all together early in the final lap.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - The peloton ramps up the chase

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – The peloton ramps up the chase

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Several more attacks and counter attacks ensued, including one final move with Pipp and Dominique Rollin (Toyota-United). But they were snowed under on the final trip up the circuit’s short climb, setting things up for a furious dash to the finish.

“I’m not sure where he came from,” admitted Menzies of the race’s final 200 meters. “I had two teammates leading me out perfectly, but I had to wait to make sure Huff didn’t come over the top of me. Then Uri came by. At the finish I knew I was coming quicker and saw him pause and throw up arms, so I gave a throw and hoped I could get him.”

It was a strategy that came up about a half inch short.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - Oscar Sevilla of Rock Racing and Dominique Rollin try to get away on the final lap, to no avail.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – Oscar Sevilla of Rock Racing and Dominique Rollin try to get away on the final lap, to no avail.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The Triple Crown’s 25-team field will now get a day off before reconvening in Reading for a 75-mile, 10-lap affair that darts back and forth between the city’s downtown and the summit of nearby Mt. Penn. Finally, comes the mother of all North American one-day races, the Philadelphia International Championship. Celebrating its 24th running, this epic 156-mile test of mettle begins and ends on Philadelphia’s famed Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

In between a fast field of the world’s 200 best cyclists will hurtle their way around 10 laps of the 14.4-mile primary circuit that includes the infamous Manayunk Wall, with its always-raucous fans and precipitous grades that exceed 17 percent. Ten long laps are followed by three testing finishing circuits up and over Lemon Hill before the 2008 champion is crowned. To the victors will go the lion’s share of a $93,500 prize purse that includes a $10,000 bonus for the overall series winner.

Women’s race:
By Jason Sumner

Don’t tell Ina-Yoko Teutenberg cycling is a team sport — apparently she doesn’t need any help winning races.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - Teutenberg makes it look easy.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – Teutenberg makes it look easy.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Despite having no teammates in Tuesday’s Lehigh Valley Classic criterium, the German picked up right where she left off a year ago, capturing the opening round of the Commerce Bank Triple Crown of Cycling on a sun-splashed but gusty day in southeast Pennsylvania. The win upped Teutenberg’s Triple Crown winning streak to four; she swept the three race series a year ago.

The setting for Teutenberg’s latest triumph was the new-for-2008 event situated on a four-turn, one-mile course in downtown Allentown. After sitting back while a break of seven took off early in the race, Teutenberg bridged across solo, fractured the leading group, and went on to win a lopsided, two-up sprint with Cheerwine’s Laura Van Gilder. Alison Powers (Colavita-Sutter Home) was a distant third in the first of the three-race series that will conclude Sunday with the Liberty Classic in Philadelphia.

“All my teammates are in Montreal racing the World Cup race right now, so I had to do it alone today,” said Teutenberg, alluding to the four-day stage race in Quebec that concludes Thursday. “I got a good jump on Laura coming out of the final corner and was able to take it to the line.”

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 - The remainder of the break in the women's race chases Teutenberg, but it isn't going to happen.

Lehigh Valley Classic 2008 – The remainder of the break in the women’s race chases Teutenberg, but it isn’t going to happen.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Teutenberg’s biggest effort likely didn’t come at the finish, but during her solo bridge away from the bunch and up to the then-leading group. After starting off on her own with eight laps to go, Teutenberg had closed down the 35-second gap by the time the lap counter read seven. From there, she started applying pressure at the front, slowly whittling down the lead pack until only four riders remained.

Cervelo-Lifeforce rider Sarah Duster was the other rider to make the decisive selection, taking fourth. Colavita’s Tina Pic won the bunch sprint for fifth place.

“I do think it’s possible to beat Ina,” said a hopeful — and apparently ageless — Van Gilder, who turns 44 this year. “But you’ve got to outfox her or it’s pretty tough to do.”

Indeed, the final sprint to the finish was never in doubt. Teutenberg was first out of the final turn, allowing her time for an extended celebration.

“I’ve been doing mostly longer stage races lately, so I was sure what kind of kick I would have today so I decided to go early,” explained Teutenberg, who will look to make it five in a row come Thursday’s Reading Classic criterium, and then be joined by her teammates for Sunday’s race. “The criteriums are fun to win, but for High Road it’s all about the Liberty Classic.”

At stake for Teutenberg and the rest of the women’s field is a $27,200 prize purse that includes $5000 for the overall series winner. After the Reading race and a pair of rest days, the women will relocate to Philadelphia for the 56.7-mile Liberty Classic, which is run on the same circuit as the men’s Philadelphia International Championship.

Photo Gallery

Results

Women’s results
1. Ina-Yoko Teutenberg, Team High Road – Women
2. Laura Van Gilder, Cheerwine Cycling
3. Alison Powers, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
4. Sarah Duster, Cervelo-Lifeforce
5. Tina Pic, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
6. Kelly Benjamin, Cheerwine Cycling
7. Martina Patella, ValueAct Capital Cycling Team
8. Erica Allar, Aaron\’s Professional Women\’s C
9. Catherine Cheatley, Cheerwine Cycling
10. Laura Mccaughey, Juice Plus/NC cycling
11. Kristin Armstrong, Cervelo-Lifeforce
12. Rebecca Larson, Aaron\’s Professional Women\’s C
13. Melissa Sanborn, Vanderkitten Racing
14. Christina Ruiter, ValueAct Capital Cycling Team
15. Robin Farina, Cheerwine Cycling
16. Liz Hatch, Vanderkitten Racing
17. Priska Doppmann, Cervelo-Lifeforce
18. Susy Pryde, Jazz Apple
19. Holli Steelman, Juice Plus/NC cycling
20. Steph Roorda, Juice Plus+ Cycling Team
21. Sharon Allpress, ValueAct Capital Cycling Team
22. Kate Veronneau, Kutztown Cutters
23. Marple Stacy, Cheerwine Cycling
24. Marni Hambleton, ValueAct Capital Cycling Team
25. Catherine Powers, Aaron\’s Professional Women\’s C
26. Laura Weislo, BMW-Bianchi p/b Hendrick BMW
27. Emma Rickards, Cervelo-Lifeforce
28. Jacquelyn Crowell, Team Kenda Tire
29. Kate Flore, HPC powered by Altarum
30. Jessie Maclean, Verducci/Breakaway Racing
31. Dale Tye, Hub Racing
32. Sarah Bamberger, Cheerwine Cycling
33. Pascale Schnider, Cervelo-Lifeforce
DNS. Anna Lang, Aaron\’s Professional Women\’s C
DNS. Andrea Dvorak, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
DNS. Nichole Wangsgard, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
DNS. Liz Leyden, Hub Racing
DNS. Lauren Ellis, Jazz Apple
DNS. Belinda Goss, Jazz Apple
DNS. Sarah Tillotson, Team Advil-ChapStick
DNS. Amber Rais, Team TIBCO
DNF. Christy Blakely, BMW-Bianchi
DNF. Sonja Evers, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Diane Grim, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Lorraine Lipfert, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Beth Mason, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Janet Olney, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Heidi Von Teitenberg, C3-Sollay.com
DNF. Patricia Schwager, Cervelo-Lifeforce
DNF. Lenore Imhof, Colavita Racing, Inc.
DNF. Shontell Gauthier, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
DNF. Parks, Iona Wynter, Colavita/Sutter Home p/b Cooki
DNF. Kristy Swope, EPS/CSS/Riptide Cycling
DNF. Lorena Candrian, HPC powered by Altarum
DNF. Lesley Golenor, HPC powered by Altarum
DNF. Jennifer Rasmusson, HPC powered by Altarum
DNF. Kristy Scheffenacker, HPC powered by Altarum
DNF. Jenette Williams, HPC/LIST
DNF. Alison Fischer, Hub Racing
DNF. Emma Giddens, Hub Racing
DNF. Leeanne Manderson, Hub Racing
DNF. Brooke O’connor, Hub Racing
DNF. Nonnie Howard, Human Zoom/Pabst Blue Ribbon
DNF. Malindi Maclean, Jazz Apple
DNF. Amity Elliot, Juice Plus
DNF. Rachel Warner, Juice Plus/NC cycling
DNF. Yukie Nakamura, Team Kenda Tire
DNF. Veronica Martinez, JVR Sports
DNF. Colleen Hayduk, Kutztown Inn / Bicycling World
DNF. Kimberly Geist, Metro Volkswagen
DNF. Natalie Klemko, Team Advil-ChapStick
DNF. Marjan Huizing, Team Kenda Tire
DNF. Jennifer Maxwell, Team Kenda Tire
DNF. Rushlee Buchanan, Team TIBCO
DNF. Sarah Caravella, Team TIBCO
DNF. Sinead Miller, UPMC Cycling Performance
DNF. Lara Kroepsch, ValueAct Capital Cycling Team
DNF. Flavia Oliveira, Vanderkitten Racing
DNF. Jennifer Wilson, Vanderkitten Racing
DNF. Theresa Cliff-ryan, Verducci Breakaway Racing
DNF. Kacey Manderfield, Verducci Breakaway Racing
DNF. Tricia Carnila, Verducci/Breakaway Racing
DNF. Lisa Jellett, Verducci/Breakaway Racing
DNF. Kele Murdin, Verducci/Breakaway Racing
DNF. Jacqueline Paull, Watchung Wheelmen/High Gear Cy