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Navs speak Louder in Waterbury

After 30 miles of going toe-to-toe on the steep hills of Waterbury, the protagonists in Saturday's Waterbury circuit race ended up deciding things in a cat-and-mouse sprint, with Jeff Louder (Navigators Insurance) scoring a big win for the New Jersey-based team, ahead of breakaway companions Chris Wherry (Health Net-Maxxis) and Will Frischkorn (Colavita Olive Oil) in the Tour of Connecticut. Stage 4 of the tour brought the race back to the Waterbury circuit introduced last year, featuring a brutal climb averaging around 9 percent and twisting its way through Waterbury neighborhoods before a

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Louder wins tough stage 3 at Tour of CT

By Bryan Jew, VeloNews managing editor

Louder takes the three-up sprint

Louder takes the three-up sprint

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

After 30 miles of going toe-to-toe on the steep hills of Waterbury, the protagonists in Saturday’s Waterbury circuit race ended up deciding things in a cat-and-mouse sprint, with Jeff Louder (Navigators Insurance) scoring a big win for the New Jersey-based team, ahead of breakaway companions Chris Wherry (Health Net-Maxxis) and Will Frischkorn (Colavita Olive Oil) in the Tour of Connecticut.

Stage 4 of the tour brought the race back to the Waterbury circuit introduced last year, featuring a brutal climb averaging around 9 percent and twisting its way through Waterbury neighborhoods before a screaming descent back down to the finish in town. Racers covered 13 laps of the 4-mile circuit on an overcast race day that was much cooler than the inaugural race a year ago.

After an early solo break by Colavita’s Nathan O’Neill was reeled in, the move of the day went off at the top of the climb on lap six. “O’Neill came back, and then [Danny] Pate attacked at the top of the hill,” said Louder. “I followed him, and before I knew it, Danny wasn’t there, but Wherry was, and so were Will and the Webcor guy [Imanol Ayesteran].”

Louder was working for a living out there on Saturday

Louder was working for a living out there on Saturday

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Those four represented each of the most powerful teams in the race, and as a result, the gap shot up quickly, with the advantage over the main field growing to over two minutes in just two laps, while a pair of chasers — Jon Hamblen (Fior di’Frutta) and Pete Knudsen (Seasilver) — dangled in no-man’s land until lap 10.

As they built their lead, Wherry and Louder did much of the work. With Colavita still defending the overall race lead of Mark McCormack, Frischkorn could play it a little more tactically, but once the lead grew to over two minutes, the group knew they would be fighting out the win among themselves.

The odds improved with three laps to go, when Ayesteran got dropped from the break, and that’s when the remaining three began to set up for the win.

“We all attacked as many times as we could,” said Wherry. “You’ve got to love those fights, those battles of attrition. It just came down to a boxing match between the three of us.”

None of those attacks were successful, which may have played into the hands of Louder, who admits he was just trying to survive on the hills. “Both Will and Chris, they were the strongest in the hills,” said Louder. “I was just trying my best to hang on.”

Louder did just that, and the three hit the flat oval finish together, slowing to a crawl before Frischkorn finally blinked and jumped first heading into the sweeping left-hand final turn. He thought for a minute he may have timed his move just right, but in the last 50 meters both Wherry and Louder shot past, with the Navigators rider barely edging Wherry for the win.

Race leader McCormack and his posse

Race leader McCormack and his posse

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Ayesteran managed to hang on for fourth place, while behind a group of five had separated itself from the main field, including Friday night’s winner, Ivan Dominguez (Colavita), who beat out Navigators’ David McKenzie and Webcor’s Charles Dionne for fifth place. In the field sprint, McCormack edged out Danny Pate (Health Net-Maxxis) for 10th place to add to his point total in the omnium series.

For the Navigators, who missed a chance to line up Marty Nothstein in Friday evening’s New Haven criterium when the team got stuck in traffic en route from New Jersey, Saturday’s win earned them a measure of redemption, and was a bright spot following an up-and-down spring campaign in Europe, when miserable weather and injuries sapped the team. It also marked Louder’s best peformance on home soil since signing with the American team after several years as a pro in Belgium.

“It was a big one for me,” he said after the race.

Photo Gallery

Results

1. Jeff Louder, Navigators Insurance, 53 miles in 2:14:31; 2. Chris Wherry, Health Net-Maxxis; 3. Will Frischkorn, Colavita Olive Oil, both s.t.; 4. Imanol Ayestaran (Sp), Webcor Builders, at 1:29; 5. Ivan Dominguez (Cu), Colavita Olive Oil, at 2:20; 6. David McKenzie (Aus), Navigators Insurance; 7. Charles Dionne (Can), Webcor Builders, both s.t.; 8. Dominique Perras (Can), Ofoto, at 2:38; 9. Mike Jones, Health Net-Maxxis, at 2:47; 10. Mark McCormack, Colavita Olive Oil, at 2:50;

Overall
1. Mark McCormack, Colavita Olive Oil, 68 points;
2. Shawn Milne, Fior di Frutta, 47;
3. Charles Dionne, Webcor Builders, 43;
4. Jeff Louder, Navigators Insurance, 40;
5. Ivan Dominguez, Colavita Olive Oil, 40;
6. Alexandre Nadeau, Volkswagen-Trek, 34;
7. Chris Wherry, Health Net-Maxxis, 30;
8. Gord Fraser, Health Net-Maxxis, 27;
9. Will Frischkorn, Colavita Olive Oil, 24;
10. Mark Walters, Navigators Insurance, 24.