By Jonathan Kaplan , VeloNews correspondent
Team Mercury-Viatel’s Jans Koerts battled swirling winds and a blistering pace to win the mass field sprint at Sunday’s Clarendon Cup criterium in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. Koerts’s teammate Gord Fraser finished second, nudging out Vassiliy Davidenko of the well-organized Navigators team.
A group of five broke off the front 12km into the race, but that group was caught almost immediately. Next to try an escape was local D.C. rider Russ Langley (National Capital Velo Club), who fired up the crowd with a solo break. For nearly nine laps around the tough six-corner, 1km course, Langley rode alone, but he too was eventually reeled in. Between the wind and the technical difficulty of the course, no other riders could stay off the front.
“The overall pace of the race was really fast and these days a good break needs a guy from every team and it needs the right guys,” explained Fraser. “That just was not happening because there is so much parity in the field and it was really windy with lots of slowing down and re-accelerating.”
The race wore down many of the 120 riders who started; only 50 finished. With 35 laps to go, U.S. Postal Service’s Antonio Cruz attempted to break away, but he couldn’t sustain.
With 13km to go, Navigators put on a clinic by setting up a textbook train in the hopes that they could lead out their top sprinters to win the race. It almost worked.
Even though his own Mercury-Vitel team could not organize as well, Jans Koerts wasn’t worried when he came into the last corner in 4th place. “I never worry, I’m a sprinter and a race is not over until it’s the last lap,” he said.
With 350 meters to go, Koerts was sitting comfortably on the wheel of Postal Service’s Julian Dean. He had enough horsepower to come around the New Zealander for first.
U.S. Postal heavyweights George Hincapie, Robbie Ventura and Antonio Cruz finished fourth, ninth and 12th respectively.
If the men’s race was an example of a chaotic free for all, the Saturn women used teamwork to achieve a one-two victory. Ina Teutenberg, who won the Capital Cup on Saturday, put forth another winning effort at Clarendon. Teutenberg worked together with her teammates Petra Rossner and Kristy Scrymgeour, to lap the field twice. Rossner finished second and Verizon Wireless rider Laura Van Gilder finished third.
CLARENDON CUP, Arlington, VA. June 3.
Men: 1. Jans Koerts (Nl), Mercury-Viatel; 2. Gord Fraser (Can), Mercury-Viatel; 3. Vasiliy Davidenko (Rus), Navigators; 4. Julian Dean (NZ), U.S. Postal Service; 5. Jame Carney, Prime Alliance; 6. Jeff Hopkins, Team Columbus-Grange; 7. Baden Cooke (Aus), Mercury-Viatel; 8. Oleg Grishkine (Rus); 9. Robbie Ventura, U.S. Postal Service; 10. Dave McCook, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist.
Women: 1. Ina Teutenberg (G), Saturn; 2. Petra Rossner (G), Saturn; 3. Laura Van Gilder, Verizon Wireless; 4. Kristy Scrymgeour, Saturn; 5. Joanna Keisanowski (NZ), Procter & Gamble; 6. Andrea Hannos, Verizon Wireless; 7. Roz Reekie-May, Pittsburgh Cycling Club; 8. Stacey Spencer, Procter & Gamblel 9. Rebecca Conzelman, TalgoAmerica.com; 10. Shannon Hutchinson, Litespeed-Atlanta Velo.