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By Kirsten Begg, VeloNews Correspondent
Saturn continued their dominance and kept their lead riders high in the NRC points, as Trent Klasna and Kimberly Bruckner won their respective races at the Housatonic Valley Classic in Danbury, Connecticut, on Sunday. This new race on the calendar offered the men a fantastic but gut-wrenching 140-mile undulating course. The climbs were a challenge and the winding descents on Connecticut’s narrow backroads sent a few unsuspecting riders into the hedgerow.
With little time for rest and recuperation the 220-man field knew that it would be a race of attrition.After a few initial breakaways from local riders Chris Peck and Kurt Davis that would ultimately give Davis the sprints-points title, a larger 24-man break was brought under control before the crux climb.
For the pro-am field, the quick succession of three climbs and one hairy descent at the 75-mile mark started the selection. The amateurs were at about their maximum distance-wise, and apart from a handful who hung with the main pack, they where shelled on the 1.6-mile climb up to Ridgefield.
With the pack thinning, Saturn’s Klasna made a move on the closing stages of the climb, and Navigator’s Chris Baldwin moved to cover it. The two-man breakaway quickly built a lead that became a 60-mile two-up time-trial. A lack of race radio didn’t help chasing teams organize, and it was left to Mercury and 7Up-Colorado Cyclist to try and close the 1:30 gap on the 12 closing laps of a 3-mile circuit in downtown Danbury.
Despite putting six men to the front of the pack, Mercury couldn’t make any progress, and in fact the gap grew steadily as the Klasna-Baldwin tandem cranked out perfect 6:30 laps. 7Up-Colorado Cyclist took over the chase as the Mercury train self-destructed, leaving Gord Fraser their only top 10 finisher.
With 5 laps to go the lead was over two minutes and the pack began resigning itself to the sprint for third place. Klasna easily beat Baldwin in the sprint, as the pair crossed the line with a comfortable 2:06 lead. Saturn’s Eric Wohlberg cheekily escaped from the chase group to take the final podium spot. Showing the pros a thing or two were Kissena’s Alexander Lavallee and Wheelwork’s Jon Hamblen, whose strong and savvy rides gave both amateurs well-earned top-10 finishes.
Baldwin, who had returned from Europe only on Friday, admitted being beaten by the better man but was ecstatic with his ride — one of his best results to date.
An in-form Klasna commented, “I really expected it to feel harder, and so when the pack relaxed a little on the climb I decided to go for it and see as I knew it would be pretty hard to catch a breakaway on the finishing circuit.”
Things also went according to plan for the Saturn women’s team after they tested a strong local field with repeated breakaway attempts in the races first 15 minutes of the one-hour criterium.
Explained winner Kimberly Bruckner (Saturn), “It was a good opportunity for me to score some more NRC points. Initially, I got away but it’s a tough field here and they started catching me. Suzanne bridged up at just the right time and we were able to motor away for the win.”
Added second-place finisher, teammate Sonye, “It’s not always that the race goes exactly as planned so it was great to go “1-2″ and both increase our NRC standings.”
Rebecca Conzelman (Talgoamerica.com) led in the field sprint to prevent a Saturn sweep of the podium.
HOUSATONIC VALLEY CLASSIC, Danbury CT. May 20.
Men: 1. Trent Klasna, Saturn, 140mi in 5:14:14; 2. Chris Baldwin, Navigators, s.t.; 3. Eric Wohlberg, Saturn, at 2:07; 4. Scottie Weiss, Zaxby’s, at 2:11; 5. Vassilli Davidenko (Rus), Navigators, s.t.; 6. Alexander Lavallee, Kissena, at 2:37; 7. John Lieswyn, 7 Up-Colorado Cyclist; 8. Jon Hamblen, Wheelworks-Cannondale; 9. Luke Stockwell, Zaxby’s; 10. Gord Fraser, Mercury-Viatel, all s.t.
Women: (1-hour criterium): 1. Kimberly Bruckner, Saturn, 57:31; 2. Suzanne Sonye, Saturn, s.t.; 3. Rebecca Conzelman, Talgoamerica.com, at 0:59; 4. Ina Teutenberg (G), Saturn; 5. Laura Van Gilder, VeriZon Wireless; 6. Kim Davidge, Saturn, all s.t.; 7. Sarah Uhl, Trek-CYBC, at 1:00; 8. Roz Reekie-May, Pittsburgh CC; 9. Lauren Franges, Tri-State Velo; 10. Kathryn Wilder, Evolution Racing, all s.t.