By Patrick O’Grady
The 17th annual Tucson Classic kicked off on Friday with the McCain Loop Prologue Time Trial, a three-mile roller-coaster ride through Tucson Mountain Park with a couple miles of uphill — on grades of 4 to 6 percent — to separate the contenders from the pretenders in the three-day Arizona stage race.
Mercury speedster Gord Fraser turned the fastest time among the Pro/I-II men, crossing the line in six minutes, 48 seconds. Teammate Plamen Stoyanov was second, just 11 seconds slower, followed by Jelly Belly’s Mariano Friedick at seven minutes flat.
Defending champ Scott Price (Landis/Trek-VW) was sixth, 20 seconds off the pace.
In the women’s I-III TT, 2001 winner Genèvieve Jeanson (Rona) easily outpaced the field to win in 7:12. Second was Jeannie Longo at 46 seconds back, followed by Elizabeth Emery (NMBRA-NMVS) at 52 seconds.
Today’s stage, the Gates Pass Road Race, is a 21-mile circuit that includes the 12 percent grade of the pass, which comes just six miles before the finish. Elite men are racing for 105 miles, the women for 63.
VeloNews.com will post results and a short race report as soon as they become available.