Talk about winding up the 2002 Allen Group Sequoia Classic with a bang … and a clang, and a clatter.
Mercury came up bruised and battered in the 49-mile Visalia Criterium March 10 after a pair of crashes in the final laps derailed its famous train, and 31-year-old Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) snatched a victory in a race that he hadn’t won since he was 19.
Action on the six-corner, L-shaped 0.7-mile course is always fast and furious, and this year was no exception, with the field in single file, attacks on nearly every lap and nothing staying clear for long. With a field sprint in the offing, first Navigators, then Mercury took the driver’s seat … until two crashes in the last two laps took out sea-foam strongman Gord Fraser and his backup, Bulgarian Plamen Toyanov, who overcooked the final corner.The carnage opened the door for Carney, who scooted past on the inside to claim the win ahead of Ivan Dominguez (Saturn) and Hilton Clarke (Schroeder Iron).
In the 35-mile women’s crit, Ina Teutenberg (Saturn) made it two for two after winning the previous day’s Rocky Hill Road Race over teammate Lyne Bessette. The German sprinter took off, shadowed by Trish Choo (Helen’s-Trek/VW), and the pair was gone for good, leaving Suzanne Sonye (Saturn) to outkick the field for third.
Teutenberg had pulled the same stunt in the 48-mile women’s road race, soloing in nearly a minute up on Bessette and third-placed Tona Mayolo (Diet Rite)— but what worked for her almost didn’t for Saturn’s Mark McCormack. He jumped out front on the final circuit in the men’s 85-miler only to find himself eating a headwind all the way to the end, finishing just a hundred meters ahead of Clarke, with Fraser copping third.
“When I came out of the last corner, I was just praying to hold on,” McCormack told the Visalia Times-Delta. “If it was another mile, I wouldn’t have made it.”