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CSC’s Piil takes Wachovia at Lancaster

The 2003 Wachovia Cycling Series kicked off Tuesday on a rainy evening in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the Danish CSC squad quickly served notice that it would be a force to be reckoned with at the three-race East Coast series. After dominating the numbers game in the main breakaway of the day, CSC sprung team leader Jakob Piil to a solo victory in downtown Lancaster. Piil, the winner of both Lancaster and the Philadelphia USPRO Championship in 1999, was just part of an all-out assault by the CSC squad, which squashed the hopes of the major American teams in Lancaster. One American teams

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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews assistant managing editor

Piil goes for it on his own

Piil goes for it on his own

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The 2003 Wachovia Cycling Series kicked off Tuesday on a rainy evening in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and the Danish CSC squad quickly served notice that it would be a force to be reckoned with at the three-race East Coast series. After dominating the numbers game in the main breakaway of the day, CSC sprung team leader Jakob Piil to a solo victory in downtown Lancaster.

Piil, the winner of both Lancaster and the Philadelphia USPRO Championship in 1999, was just part of an all-out assault by the CSC squad, which squashed the hopes of the major American teams in Lancaster.

O’Neill

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

One American teams with high hopes for the Wachovia Series is Saturn, after its dominating spring performance in the U.S. On the cold, wet day, Saturn tried to make the race hard early on, and after several attacks, Aussie Nathan O’Neill went clear on the second lap of the 7-mile circuit, to be completed a total of 13 times.

O’Neill had hoped for company in the early break, but it took nearly five laps before the field behind took any real interest. At that point, though, about 35 miles into the 91-mile affair, the strongmen started to come out.

Chris Baldwin (Navigators), Chris Horner (Saturn), John Lieswyn (7UP-Maxxis), Piil and Geert Van Bondt (CSC) were among the first riders to bridge up to O’Neill, followed by the likes of Fred Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola), Trent Klasna (Saturn), Michael Barry (U.S. Postal Service), David Clinger and Danny Pate (both Prime Alliance). In all, a group of about 22 riders was at the front 60 miles into the race, while the main field, which had been splintering from the beginning, wasn’t much bigger.

As far as numbers went, things were fairly even at that point: Navigators 4, Saturn 4, CSC 4, U.S. Postal 3, Prime Alliance 3. But things would slowly begin to unravel.

“When CSC got three or four in the group, there was a lap there when they just railed it,” said Lieswyn. “I wanted to tell [team director Jeff Corbett], don’t underestimate how hard this race is.”

Under CSC’s pressure, Saturn lost O’Neill, then Klasna. Navigators lost everyone but Oleg Grichkine. Postal’s Max Van Heeswijk, who had made a big effort to bridge up, got dropped, as did Prime Alliance’s Matt DeCanio.

With the group down to about 15, the reshuffling began up front, and when it was done, CSC held all the aces. With three laps to go, the front group finally settled in at nine riders, including CSC’s Julian Dean, Piil and Van Bondt. They were joined by Mark McCormack and Horner from Saturn, Clinger, Matt White (U.S. Postal Service), Lieswyn and Uros Murn (Formaggi Pinzolo).

From there, everyone was anticipating an attack in the likely spot, on the tough feed hill through Lancaster County park. But instead, Piil launched on the only really flat section of the difficult, hilly circuit — just past the start-finish in downtown.

“I wanted to try on the flat,” said Piil. “If you do your move on the hill, then you’re [already] at your limit, and it’s hard to come through alone after the hill. So that was my plan, to attack and go away on the flat.”

When Piil made his move, no one in the group could even muster a chase. “It was like everyone instantly resigned themselves to going for second place,” said Lieswyn.

UnZipped: Dean had to finish on this.

UnZipped: Dean had to finish on this.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Piil kept control, and would eventually solo in, 1:18 ahead of the six-man remnants of the break. The six-man sprint for second provided some fireworks, as McCormack and Dean tangled in the slippery conditions, resulting in some damage to the New Zealander’s equipment.

“He came on tope of me and took all the spokes out from my front wheel,” explained Dean.

The CSC rider had to back off, taking third place behind McCormack. But even with that slight concession, CSC had made its statement on the day. “They were just unbelievable,” said O’Neill. “It’s no fluke that [Piil] won, let’s just say that.”

The Wachovia Series continues on Thursday in Trenton, New Jersey, where CSC’s Dean will be among the favorites on the flat, sprinter’s course.

Results1. Jakob Piil (Dk), CSC, in 3:23:42
2. Mark McCormack, Saturn, at 1:18
3. Julian Dean (NZ), CSC
4. Matt White (Aus), U.S. Postal Service
5. John Lieswyn, 7UP-Maxxis
6. Uros Murn (Slo), Formaggi Pinzolo
7. Geert Van Bondt (B), CSC, all s.t.
8. David Clinger, Prime Alliance, at 3:19
9. Chris Horner, Saturn, s.t.
10. Jimmi Madsen (Dk), CSC, at 3:53.

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