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Live Updates from First Union and Liberty Classic – Sunday June 9, 2002

LIVE UPDATES FROM PHILLY 8:49 a.m. Good morning. We are about 10 minutes away from the start of the 2002 First Union USPRO Championships in Philadelphia. As is always the case with this race, the crowds are already huge and we'll be seeing them grow as the day goes on. The weather is beautiful in downtown Philadelphia. The predicted high today is 85 and humidity is at a comfortable level right now. We'll be filling in details throughout the race today. We'll be getting reports from VeloNews's Bryan Jew and John Wilcockson. We are also trying something of an experiment. Mercury's Gord

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8:49 a.m. Good morning. We are about 10 minutes away from the start of the 2002 First Union USPRO Championships in Philadelphia.

As is always the case with this race, the crowds are already huge and we’ll be seeing them grow as the day goes on. The weather is beautiful in downtown Philadelphia. The predicted high today is 85 and humidity is at a comfortable level right now.

We’ll be filling in details throughout the race today. We’ll be getting reports from VeloNews’s Bryan Jew and John Wilcockson.

We are also trying something of an experiment. Mercury’s Gord Fraser and Prime Alliance’s Matt DeCanio are both equipped with Cycle-Ops Power Taps with telemetry units. So, if everything works out, we’ll be getting updates on those two riders’ heart rates, speed and power output, which should prove informative as they grind their way up Manayunk Wall.

So check in throughout the morning. We’ll try to provide you with regular updates that will, of course, increase in frequency as the finish line approaches in about six hours.

10:07 a.m. It’s been a fast morning as teams have been sending off attacks for much of the opening hour.

The first time through the start-finish area, a group of 25 riders had about a 30-second advantage over the field. At the front of the peloton, the Postal team is keeping tabs and not letting that gap grow.

10:15 a.m. The Postal team did its job and brought back the group of 25… just in time for another group of 27 riders to try its luck as the race worked its way up the Manayunk Wall for the second of ten trips.

7UP’s Clark Sheenan attacked from the lead group but he has been brought back.10:35 a.m. As the peloton comes up the Manayunk for the third time today, the whole group is back together.

That last foray off the front had way too many dangerous riders for Postal and Saturn to let them go. The Navigators squad for example had five guys in the break, including Vassili Davidenko.

One note of interest, Postal’s Tom Boonen was at the back of the field on this last trip up the Manayunk, drifting back to the team car for service. If that proves to be significant, we’ll update you.10:50 a.m. Coming through the feedzone at the end of the third lap, Lotto’s Glenn D’Hollander has a 20-second advantage on the main field.

Race radio reports that Domo’s Jans Koerts has crashed and is out of the race.

10:53 a.m. The women are now closing in on the end of their race. On their second-to-last trip (that’s penultimate in VeloNews speak) trip up the Manayunk, the women’s field has been trimmed down, by Saturn’s steady and hard pace-setting at the front of the field.

Petra Rossner — who is going for her 5th Liberty Classic in a row is sitting comfortably in the field. She has teammates Ina Teutenberg and Judith Arndt right next to her.

In the men’s race a note of interest from Bryan Jew. Bryan reports that Mercury’s Derek Bouchard-Hall has announced that this will be his last race. He’s leaving the team to attend Harvard Business School … which should be an interesting experience after riding for John Wordin all these years, eh?

11:11 a.m. The women are on the final lap. There must be 80 or 90 riders in the women’s field as they make their way up the Manayunk for the last time.

Rossner has apparently had a crash on the previous lap. She is back up and in the field, but was at the end of the pack as they were going up the Manayunk.

11:20 a.m. With 10 laps to go, Mroz’s Eugene Wacker is off the front. He just dropped his breakaway companion Lotto’s Glenn D’Hollander. Wacker now has an advantage of 25 seconds on the field… or rather on a large group of chasers that are sitting five to 10 seconds ahead of the field.

In the women’s race, Saturn is setting a hard tempo at the front. Rossner is working her way back to the front.

11:32 a.m. On the last time up the Manayunk Wall, Dede Demet-Barry is pushing the pace, leading the group up the climb. Rossner is back up near the front, sitting in about fifth position.

We are about 10 minutes from the finish.

11:37 a.m. About five minutes from the finish of the women’s race, the Diet Rite squad is setting tempo at the front. The team has five riders setting a strong pace… but the Saturns are sitting in wait.

11:39 a.m. There has been a split in the women’s field. Seven riders are off the front as we approach the final climb up Lemon Hill. Dede Demet Barry, Judith Arndt, Petra Rossner and Laura Van Guilder are among them.

11:41 a.m. There has been another split. Now just fouir riders remain with the finish line just a couple of kilometers away — Demet-Barry, Rossner, Van Guilder and one other rider we have not yet I.D.-ed

11:43 a.m. Ina Teutenburg and Arndt have rejoined and are helping out Rossner.

11:44 a.m. Rossner gets a good leadout from Teutenburg and then Arndt. She jumps with 300 meters to go. Van Guilder follows.

11:45 a.m.It’s Rossner AGAIN!This is her sixth win in this race.

Van Guilder takes second.

11:45 a.m.In the men’s race, Lotto’s Glenn D’Hollander and Mroz’s Eugene Wacker joined up again. They have been joined by Postal’s Dylan Casey, Mercury’s Scott Moninger, Prime Alliance’s Russell Stevenson and Saturn’s Soren Peterson. The have about 30 seconds on the main field.12:02 p.m. The women’s award ceremony is underway. Rossner is awarded first place, Van Guilder second and Dede Demet-Barry third.

By the way, Barry rode today’s race with Cycle-Ops Power Tap hub built into a Lew Composites rear rim. She averaged 171 watts throughout the 2:30 race and peaked at 810 watts on one of her trips up the Manayunk.

12:20 p.m. That lead group — Wacker, Casey, Moninger, Stevenson, Petersen and D’Hollander are now about 2:30 ahead of the main field. We are now in the second half of the race.

12:28 p.m. Not represented in the break, the Navigators team has put five of its guys at the front of the main field to try and narrow the gap. Indeed, it has come down to under two minutes and its falling.

With guys like O’Bee powering the field, the gap should come down quickly.

12:35 p.m. Coming through the feed zone, beginning lap 7 (we are 90 miles into the 156-mile race), the lead group is beginning to fracture.

D’Hollander is off on is own, being trailed by Moninger and Petersen. Casey and Stevenson are bit behind them and Wacker is drifting back toward the field. The gap between the Navigator-driven field and D’Hollander is just 50 seconds.

1:00 p.m. After four hours of racing, the remnants of the break have been hauled back in. Saeco’s Cristian Piepoli is now off the front with a very small gap.

1:08 p.m. Driven by several riders from the Mroz team, a group of 25 riders has formed off the front. They have a small gap and are not likely to get far.

Christian Vande Velde, Gord Fraser and Mark McCormack are in pursuit, with the field another 10 seconds back

1:15 p.m. That break didn’t succeed, but it did force the main field to break apart. There are now 60-70 riders in front, with three big laps and then the three laps around the smaller closing circuit remaining, it looks as if a major selection has taken place.

Going up the Manayunk again, Piepoli again tries an attack.

1:31 p.m. We have two big laps to go… two more trips up the Manayunk.

Right now the field is largely together, though much smaller than when the day started. All of the big players are in the front group and the pace has moderated as many in the field are spending time eyeing each other.

Postal is moving to the front.

1:31 p.m. That Postal move created a gap. About 25 riders are in agroup 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field. There are four Posties — Hincapie, Zabriskie and McRae among them — at the front of the group and race radio reports that defending champion Fred Rodriguez is back in the second group.

1:37 p.m. Actually that lead group is made up of about 40 riders. Postal has some serious fire power up there: Christian Vande Velde, Tom Boonen, David Zabriskie, Michael Barry, Chan McRae and George Hincapie. In addition, Mercury has four riders in the group, including Chris Wherry and Henk Vogels.

With Rodriguez back in the second group and the gap is already coming close to two minutes. It looks like that the second group may lack the horsepower to rejoin.

1:45 p.m. It look like Fred Rodriguez has realized that his chances for another stars-and-stripes are evaporating. He’s sat up and has drifted back to his team car.

Leading to the second-to-last time up the Manayunk, Vande Velde and Zabriskie are driving the pace.

1:48 p.m. Vande Velde and Zabriskie have powered the gap up to more than 2:00. Now as the lead group hits the climb, the two Posties are drifting back. Their work may be done for now.

As the top of the climb approaches Tom Boonen (U.S. Postal) is leading the group. Hincapie is sitting comfortably in the fifth spot.

1:55 p.m. As the lead group is crossing through Strawberry fields, Rodriguez has not given up. He is chasing hard with a teammate working to regain contact with the leaders. He is now at 1:30.

2:06 p.m. The effort has proven to be too much for the defending USPRO champion. Fred Rodriguez has pulled out of the race at the feedzone at the end of lap nine.

The chase group of 17, which also includes Prime Alliance’s Chris Horner, is at 1:17, but the lead group has some serious firepower up there. Saturn’s Trent Klasna is up there, as is Prime Alliances Danny Pate and, of course, George Hincapie, with five teammates.

2:15 p.m. The Postal team is up front driving the lead group toward the Manayunk Wall for the last trip up the climb.

Zabriskie, Vande Velde, Boonen, Barry and McRae are each taking hard pulls at the front. Hincapie is their protect rider and staying near the front of the field.

2:19 p.m. This last trip up the Manayunk took its toll. With Chann McRae and Barry setting a fierce pace up the climb, by the time the leaders reached the top, the lead group had been trimmed to 12 riders.

We’ll get you an update as to the make up of that group ASAP. Hincapie is of course in the mix.

2:23 p.m. That last trip shattered the lead group. It is down to 15 riders. They include Chann McRae, Barry and Hincapie from Postal. Mark McCormack appears to be the only Saturn rider up there. Prime Alliance is represented by Danny Pate and Mercury has former winner Henk Vogels and Chris Wherry up there. Saeco’s American rider Justin Spinelli is in there, too.

Navigators has Kirk O’Bee and Marc Walters up there.

2:30 p.m. From the looks of it, this group is the final selection. The riders behind are simply not making progress and the Postal-driven lead group is motivated to keep the gap growing as they head toward those final three trips through the short three-mile finishing circuit.

2:35 p.m. Vogels has attacked… he is being followed by Postal’s Michael Barry and Navigators’ Kirk O’Bee.

2:38 p.m. The Vogels group has been pulled in. A new attck by Danny Pate. He is joined by Barry, McCormack and Wherry.

2:40 p.m. They have been reeled back and two riders have attacked — O’Bee and Barry.

2:41 p.m. Coming to Kelly drive, the group is all back together.

2:43 p.m. Barry is most active at the front. He’s at the front….and now Vogels attacks again.

2:43 p.m. Vogels is back… reeled back in by Walters.

Now McCormack is attacking.

By the way, the next group… the chase group is more than one minute back. 2:47 p.m. The 12 leaders have crested Lemon Hill all together. They are coming down the descent and turning on to Kelly Drive.

2:43 p.m. Wherry attacks.

Hincapie follows and Walters and McCormack follow.

2:44 p.m. They are back in the fold. We have two laps to go.

2:46 p.m. Barry and Pate are driving the group up Lemon Hill.

2:49 We have Barry still driving the front of the group. Barry has been pulling for more than 2km now.Chann McRae The group includes George Hincapie, Mchael Barry, Chann McRae (USPS), Henk Vogels, Chris Wherry (Mercury), Damon Kluck, Mark McCormack (Saturn), Kirk O’Bee, Mark Walters (Navigators), Thomas Gronqvist (Amore e Vita), Zbigniew Piatek (Mroz), Danny Pate (Prime Alliance), and Mariano Friedick (Jelly Belly).

2:51 p.m. One lap to go. The 13 leaders are still all together.

Barry is STILL at the front.

2:53 p.m. Coming on to Lemon Hill, McRae is now driving the group up the climb.

Vogels is shadowing Hincapie… and Barry is spent. He slips off the back.

2:55 p.m. Pate and McRae are off the front with a small gap. Pate is pulling hard and Walters is trying to bridge the gap.

2:55 p.m. With 2km to go… the Pate, McRae break has been joined by Walters. They are maybe 10 seconds ahead of the rest of the group. Pate is still pulling.

2:57 p.m. With 1km to go, it’s clear the three men off the front have it. Pate is still going.

Pate attacks from the front.

McRae charges…

2:59 p.m. It’s Walters! Walters joined the right move, bided his time and attacked at just the right moment.

McRae is second… and top American.

3:01 p.m. So Navigators’ Mark Walters takes the First Union and as the top American finisher, U.S. Postal’s Chann McRae becomes the new USPRO champion, wearing the stars-and-stripes for the next year.

Check back for a complete race wrap up from VeloNews’s Bryan Jew, full results and race photos from photographer Casey Gibson. We’d also like to extend special thanks to David Cathcart for his invaluable assistance throughout today’s race. Meanwhile, VeloNews’s John Wilcockson had a chance to speak with Postal team leader George Hincapie after the race. Hincapie said he was frustrated by the outcome.

“It is impossible for me to win this race,” Hincapie said. “The other guys just don’t want to race. If this had been a normal race I think I would have won.”

As for the final attack driven by Prime Alliance’s Danny Pate, Hincapie said he wouldn’t chase because “I had Chann (McRae) in the front,” while in the group “Saturn had two guys and Mercury had two guys and they were just looking at me.”

While Hincapie’s frustration with this race continues, he did say he drew some satisfaction from the fact that his teammate earned the national title. “I’m happy for Chann.”

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