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Davidenko, Mayolo-Pic tops in road race
By Chris Milliman
David Clinger and his Prime Alliance team fended off a day of attacks and other pressure to hold on to the overall lead as the inaugural Tour of Connecticut wrapped up with the Houstonic Valley Classic on Sunday.
On paper, this wasn’t a day that was supposed favor the sprinters. Nope, Danbury’s Housatonic Valley road course, with its rolling terrain and formidable length shouldn’t have podium that looks like the winners’ list at a typical criterium. Still, the sprinters shined in both the men’s and women’s events Sunday with Russian Vassili Davidenko (Navigators) repeating his win of a year ago, bursting from the depleted field to outrun Canadian sprinter Gord Fraser (Health Net) and Diet-Rite’s Tina Mayolo-Pic proving too much for Saturn’s pint-sized dynamo Laura Van Gilder.
The women’s 70-mile race covered the latter parts of the men’s 120-mile loop, including most of the sharp climbs that winnowed the 70-rider women’s field down to a leading group of only 17.
While Mayolo-Pic admitted that she struggled on some of the harder climbs, she credited her teammates with helping her chase back on the descents. Once the leading group entered a final five-lap tour of the two-mile route in downtown Danbury, the sprint figured to be a battle between Saturn and Diet-Rite, the two strongest teams on hand.
While Van Gilder tucked onto Mayolo-Pic’s wheel for the dash to the line, she found the Diet-Rite rider too strong and settled for second.
“It was a hard circuit to read,” said Mayolo-Pic. “Gaps were opening on the backside and we had to scramble back to set it up.”
Even though he was the defending champ at the Housatonic, Vassili Davidenko wasn’t too confident coming into the final laps.
One of his key teammates, Glen Mitchell, has been off the front almost all day in a break with Mike Sayers (Health Net) and Jacob Rosenberger (Jittery Joe’s). And while the three-hour break netted Mitchell both the KOM and Sprinter’s jerseys for the Tour of Connecticut, it left Davidenko without one of his strongest allies for the sprint.
But the former Russian champion managed to use his guile and experience instead, sitting in and watching as Prime Alliance’s workhorse duo of Jonathan Vaughters and Danny Pate beat themselves into the ground chasing down every move to defend teammate Clinger’s lead on GC. He tagged onto Health Net’s Gord Fraser in the final kilometer and jumped with 400 meters to go for a convincing repeat win.
“It was hard, especially after yesterday,” said Davidenko, referring to the Waterbury circuit race that opened massive gaps in the men’s field the day before. “At the end I felt strong and I still had legs for the sprint. I had no teammates in the last kilometer, but I still felt really good.”
Clinger, who retained his leader’s yellow jersey to win the inaugural Tour of Connecticut, said his next goal is a stars-and-stripes jersey at the USPRO Championship in Philadelphia.
“I think I’ll be going really good there,” said Clinger. “I just have to get my head in the right place and come out with a win.”
Women’s Road Race, 70 miles
1. Tina Mayolo-Pic/Diet Rite, 3:54:27
2. Laura Van Gilder/Saturn, same time
3. Iona Wynter/Genesis Scuba-FFC, s.t.
Men’s Road Race, 120 miles
1. Vasili Davidenko/Navigators, 4:48:14
2. Gord Fraser/Health Net, same time
3. Ivan Dominguez/Saturn, s.t.
4. David Clinger/Prime Alliance, s.t.
5. Mike Sayers/Health Net, s.t.
6. Oscar Pineda/7-UP-Maxxis, s.t.
7. Russel Hamby/Ofoto-Lombardi, s.t.
8. Kevin Monahan/7-UP-Maxxis, s.t.
9. Joe Giuliano/Atlas-Italpasta, s.t.
10. Russel Langley/Snow Valley, s.t.
Men’s Final GC
1. Clinger, 7:25:00
2. Danny Pate/Prime Alliance, at 1:27
3. Dominguez, at 1:46