By Ryan Newill
After being put on hold for a year due to the September 11th attacks, the Univest Grand Prix roared back to life on Saturday, and the American contingent in the men’s peloton came out swinging. The country’s biggest event for elite amateur men rated a 1.6 on the UCI scale this year, and drew teams from the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium and France.
A revolving door break began within a mile of the start, when U.S. Elite national champion Scottie Weiss (Go-Mart-West Virginia) went away and was soon joined by Gregorio Bare (UPMC-Fuji), Cedric Barez (France-Alderfer Auction), Jon Hamblen (Wheelworks/Cannondale), Tim Reinhart (Saturn Development) and James Mattis (Webcore-Alto Velo).
A reshuffling occurred after the first sprint point, taken by Reinhart. Fellow Go-Mart Paul Martin joined Weiss, Mattis and Ramon Rineda (Togo Bike Shop) to build a 22 second gap over the field. Weiss and Hamblen remained the constants in the break throughout the 57-mile long circuit, with Weiss summoning the power to win both the King of the Mountains and Sprint competitions.
By the time the race reached the first of 13 three-mile finishing laps around downtown Souderton, Weiss and Hamblen were joined by Bill Innes of Kissena, while some 70 other riders had fallen victim to the pace and faded back through the cars.
The steep downtown circuit served as a stage for the final showdown, which saw Weiss suffer from his earlier aggression and a long day out as he eventually fell from the break, ultimately finishing in the 10th spot from the chase group. Likewise, Hamblen backed out and fell to the pace on the finishing laps.
At the front, Peter Baker had taken the Go-Mart reins from Weiss, joined by Peter Knudsen (Bianchi-Grand Performance) and Todd Herriot (CRCA-Think Racing). Things looked promising for a three-up sprint to decide the podium, until Herriot simply rode away from his companions on the steep backstretch with two laps to earn a career-best win for the country’s oldest cycling club.
The pair of Peters suffered another blow on the uphill on the final lap, as Kissena’s Aussie Cameron Hughes roared up from behind just in time to recover on the downhill and pip the pair for second, followed by Knudsen and Baker.
The women’s professional criterium that entertained the downtown crowd as the men toured the neighboring hills seemed to be pronounced over a week before the race, when a press release from the organizers revealed a ringer.
Jeannie Longo (Paris Cyclist Olympiq), the legend of women’s cycling who remains untouched by her 20 years at the top, was coming to town, and she didn’t disappoint. Longo attacked just four laps into the 20 lap race and was joined by Laura Van Gilder (Trek Plus) and Leah Goldstein (Amoroso’s-HH Racing Team).
The threesome worked together until four laps to go, when Longo chose to rid herself of Goldstein and known sprinter Van Gilder for good, soloing the victory 1:13 ahead of Van Gilder, who out-dueled Goldstein for the second spot.Univest Grand Prix; Souderton, PA; September 21Elite Men:
1. Todd Herriot, CRCA-Think Racing, 100 miles in 4:00:22
2. Cameron Hughes (Aus), Kissena, at 0:40
3. Pete Knudsen, Bianchi-Grand Performance, s.t
4. Peter Baker, West Virginia-Gomart, at :42
5. Ted Huang, Webcore-AltoVelo, at 1:40
6. Kirk Alers, Ready Pac-KMK Sports
7. Sebastien Six (F), France-Alderfer Auction, s.t.
8. Perter Ghyllebert (B), Belgium-Etta Mae’s Antiques, s.t.
9. Eneas Freyre, Kissena, at 1:49
10. Scottie Weiss, West Virginia-Gomart, at 2:11.Women:
1. Jeannie Longo (F), Paris Cycliste Olympiq, 33 miles in 1:27:48
2. Laura Van Gilder, Trek Plus, at 1:13
3. Leah Goldstein (Can), Amoroso’s-HH Racing Team, s.t.
4. Sue Palmer-Komar, Talgo America, at 4:27
5. Heather Albert, Goldy’s, at 4:46
6. Kori Kelly, Diet Rite, at 4:52
7. Melissa Holt (NZ), Rona, s.t.
8. Kristen La Sasso, CRCA-RLX Polo Sport, at 6:06
9. Tania Duff-Miller (NZ), Freddie Fu, s.t.
10. Sarah Tillotson, Athletes by Design, at 6:17