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Moninger wraps up Tour de Nez as Candelario wins final stage

Alex Candelario (UCICT-Jelly Belly) launched an early attack in the final stage of the 13th Annual Tour de Nez in Reno, Nevada, and still managed to fend off his breakaway companion to take the win, as Health Net’s Scott Moninger finished in the field to keep the overall title. After two days of racing in wet, cold conditions, riders welcomed the sunny skies and moderate winds that greeted them in downtown Reno for the final stage of the Tour de Nez. Such favorable weather drew the largest crowds yet, with hundreds of spectators lining the .8-mile course. With beer gardens, a cycling expo,

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By Cherie Turner

Alex Candelario (UCICT-Jelly Belly) launched an early attack in the final stage of the 13th Annual Tour de Nez in Reno, Nevada, and still managed to fend off his breakaway companion to take the win, as Health Net’s Scott Moninger finished in the field to keep the overall title.

After two days of racing in wet, cold conditions, riders welcomed the sunny skies and moderate winds that greeted them in downtown Reno for the final stage of the Tour de Nez. Such favorable weather drew the largest crowds yet, with hundreds of spectators lining the .8-mile course. With beer gardens, a cycling expo, food booths, races for just about every category—from hand cycles to masters, kids to clunkers—running all afternoon long, all enlivened by the exuberant cycling-encyclopedic announcing of Dave Towle, the gun went off for the evening Pro-1-2 race in a festival atmosphere.

From the start, the field was strung out over this technical, ten-corner course, which, among other challenges, dished up a downward-sloping chicane that shot riders onto the roughly 100-meter home stretch. These tight turns proved integral in how the race played out.

Numerous attacks came from the front of the field early on. But, as Eric Saunders (McGuire-Langdale), commented, “Riders would attack and then once they were caught, the pack would slow up a bit.”

Taking advantage of such yo-yoing, Candelario launched a massive effort about one-third of the way into the race and immediately built up a twelve-second lead on the field. Seeing his opportunity during a little lull in the chase, Saunders launched from the field two laps later and caught the motoring Candelario within a lap.

“I felt pretty strong,” said Candelario about his about his pre-attack form, “and then I got out there by myself, and I went pretty far into the red. And then Saunders came up and gave me a little rest, but it took me a long time to recover from that effort.”

Regardless of Candelario’s hovering at the red-line, the two worked together seamlessly building up as much as a thirty-second gap on the next-nearest riders. Racers in the field continued to launch attacks keeping the field in a single-file line but were unable to reel the leaders in.

A crash by Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada rider Pete Lopinto almost one hour into the one-and-a-half hour event, created the shake-up that would see a solid chase group of four come off, and stay ahead of the field.

Coming though the turns before the home stretch, Lopinto, on the attack, slid out in the second corner. Advantage Benefits rider Richard England took the opportunity of this distraction to make a solo attack. Thrown in after his free lap, Lopinto set out after England. Soon thereafter, Kyle Gritters (Seasilver) and Glen Mitchell (Kodak Gallery-Sierra Nevada) made their way off the front.

The four soon formed a strong chase group and set off in hot pursuit of the two men up the road. With ten minutes remaining, the field continued to keep the pace high and several efforts were made to bridge the gap, but substantial ground was never gained on the four-man group. And despite strong efforts from the chasers, it was clear when the lap cards showed five to go that Saunders and Candelario would sprint it out for first and second.

In a dead heat down the final straightaway, Candelario and Saunders were neck and neck almost to the line; Candelario pulled away with just enough of a lead at the line to get both hands in the air. Gritters’ decision to power out the finish by leading the chase group through those final tight turns proved a good one as he held off a visibly frustrated Lopinto to take third.

“I knew Glen Mitchell was working for Peter Lopinto,” said Gritters. “I knew he [Mitchell] was going to make it tough at the end and attack early. I had to dig deep and go with him; he attacked hard with about two to go and then again with one to go. So I knew I had the legs. I just had to make sure that I was going to beat Lopinto to that last corner; I wanted to come out of that first. I figured I had the best shot bombing it down hill to the finish.” Lopinto was followed by England and Mitchell in that order; Carl Menzies (Advantage Benefits) took the field sprint for seventh.

In the omnium, Moninger held on to his lead to win the tour with 252 points. Rounding out the top five was: Andy Bajadali (Vitamin Cottage), 214; Menzies, 192; Candelario, 170; and Aaron Olsen (Colavita-Sutter Home), 168.