By Bryan Jew, VeloNews managing editor
Heading into the final stage of the Valley of the Sun stage race, Mariano Friedick (Jelly Belly-Aramark) and Lynn Gaggioli (T-Mobile) were just seconds out of the overall leads in the men’s and women’s races, respectively. And by the end of the day, both pulled out the overall victory to get their 2004 season off to a good start in Arizona.
Friedick entered the criterium just two seconds behind Colavita Olive Oil’s Nathan O’Neill, on the strength of his second-place finish in the time trial – just 22 seconds behind O’Neill – and his victory in the road race, where he picked up a 20-second bonus for the win.
Friedick’s second-place in the time trial was a solid result, after a trying two days in Phoenix. “It was a little bit of a surprise,” said Friedick, whose car brakes went out as soon as he arrived at teammate Corey Steinbrecher’s house on Thursday. Instead of getting out on the bike on Thursday or Friday prior to racing, Friedick was scrambling to repair his vehicle.
“I didn’t ride Thursday or Friday. Then, I was still on California time, and by the time I showed up to the race, I only had 30 minutes to warm up,” he said. Then, just 10 minutes before his start, his preparation was disrupted even more when his front tire flatted.
Riding his track pursuit bike with a 55×15 fixed gear, Friedick covered the flat 22km course in 24:27, just 22 seconds slower than Australian national TT champ O’Neill, who made a triumphant return to U.S. racing after recovering from his neck injury suffered last season.
After Friedick’s road race win, the overall was still within reach in the criterium, and when O’Neill crashed out early in the contest, the door swung wide open for Friedick. “I felt bad, but then I heard he wasn’t back in the race, and it was time for me to start watching second, third and fourth place,” he said.
Jittery Joe’s Chad Hartley took the stage win ahead of Colavita Olive Oil’s Sebastian Alexandre, but with his pack finish, Friedick walked away with the weekend title.
After two stages of the women’s race, Gaggioli trailed Nicole Freedman (Team Basis) by three seconds. T-Mobile had opened the weekend with Mari Holden winning the time trial 13 seconds ahead of Katrina Grove (RONA), with Gaggioli in third place, just 15 off Holden’s pace.
In the next day’s road race, though, Freedman shot out of nowhere – 2:12 behind Holden in the time trial – and took a 1:55 solo win to move into the overall lead ahead of Gaggioli, who had taken a 15-second mid-race bonus to move even with Holden.
During Freedman’s solo effort, however, there was some confusion as the men’s field overtook the women. The main women’s field was neutralized as the men passed. The men also passed Freedman, but officials later ruled that she had unfairly mixed with the men’s field. Before Sunday’s criterium, Freedman received a minute penalty, putting Gaggioli into the overall lead.
With time bonuses in play again, Gaggioli still had to hold off Grove, and she did just that. Laura Van Gilder put Genesis Scuba-FFCC into the win column for the first time this season, but just behind, Gaggioli outsprinted Grove for second and wrapped up the overall victory in her first race with T-Mobile.Valley of the Sun
Phoenix, AZ. February 13-15Women:
1. Lynn Gaggioli, T-Mobile, in 3:42:51
2. Katrina Grove, RONA, at 0:08
3. Mari Holden, T-Mobile, at 0:15
4. Susan Palmer-Komar, Genesis Scuba-FFCC, at 0:41
5. Rook Campbell, unattached, at 0:45
6. Grace Fleury, Genesis Scuba-FFCC, at 0:56
7. Julia Whiteside, Paramount Racing, at 0:59
8. Jeannie Longo, Team Vital Plus, at 1:06
9. Nicole Freedman, Team Basis, at 1:12
10. Catherine Powers, Minute Maid-Dasani, at 1:13Men
1. Mariano Friedick, Jelly Belly-Aramark, in 5:01:28
2. Gordon McCauley, Team Monex, at 0:25
3. Ryan Blickem, Aida’s Bail Bonds, at 0:33
4. Aaron Olson, Colavita Olive Oil, at 0:45
5. Tim Carolan, Landis-Trek-VW, at 0:47
6. Timmy Duggan, TIAA-Cref, at 0:54
7. Austin King, unattached, 0:56
8. Andrew Miller, Landis-Trek-VW, s.t.
9. Jacob Rubelt, Landis-Trek-VW, at 0:58
10. Sandy Perrins, Healthy Choice, at 1:05.