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By Chris Milliman, Special to VeloNews
Surviving an early crash on the slippery, rain-drenched New York streets, New Zealand’s Greg Henderson (Health Net-Maxxis) came back to win the third annual New York City Cycling Championships in a massive field sprint.
Henderson shot off the wheel of countryman and teammate Hayden Godfrey in the final 50 meters of the 60-mile race through New York’s financial district for his highest-profile win of the year. Another teammate, designated sprinter Gord Fraser, said he wasn’t feeling great but still slotted in for second behind Henderson.
“We wanted to be patient in the sprint,” said Fraser. “A couple of years ago with Mercury we went too early and we didn’t want to make sure that didn’t happen again. I was on Hayden’s wheel coming out of the last corner, and when we came by Greg he looked over and jumped on Hayden’s wheel, which was a great move.”
Added Henderson: “My knee felt kind of rough after the crash, but after a few laps it loosened up. When Hayden came by on the final lap I knew that either I could win or at least help Gord win — either way it was good for the team.”
Both Godfrey and Henderson will represent New Zealand at the Athens Olympics — Henderson in the points race and Madison, and Godfrey in the team pursuit.
Cuban expatriate Ivan Dominguez (Colavita Olive Oil), winner of the first NYCCC two years ago, seemed perfectly set for the sprint but unclipped from his pedal in the final charge.
“I was already going fast, but I knew I could go faster,” said Dominguez. “When I jumped I pulled out and I just coasted across the line. Too bad.”
Only one break was able to spend a good number of laps off the front of the high-speed race. Erik Saunders (Ofoto) initiated the move and waited for the chasing Vassili Davidenko (Navigators) to join him four laps later.
The duo dangled off the front of the field for more than a dozen laps, though their lead never went much above the 20-second mark. With many teams hoping to put their sprinters in position for victory, the move was doomed from the start and eventually came back with 20 laps to go of the 1.2-mile circuit.
U.S. champion Fred Rodriguez (Acqua & Sapone) suffered through a day of misfortune, including two crashes, a flat, and racing without a front brake, but managed to finish eighth and gain the overall lead in the Pro Cycling Tour.
Winning was a little less dramatic for Mari Holden (T-Mobile). She took off in the women’s race, held earlier in the day, and while the field fiddled, Holden burned, scooting across the line solo to claim the win.
New York City Cycling Championships
1. Greg Henderson, Health Net-Maxxis (NZ), 2:05:13
2. Gord Fraser, Health Net-Maxxis (Can), same time
3. Ivan Dominguez, Colavita Olive Oil, (Cub), s.t.
4. Jonas Carney, Jelly Belly–Aramark (USA), s.t.
5. Robbie Ventura, U.S. Postal Service (USA), s.t.
6. Antonio Cruz, U.S. Postal Service (USA), s.t.
7. Juan Jose Haedo, Colavita Olive Oil (Arg), s.t.
8. Fred Rodriguez, Acqua & Sapone, (USA), s.t.
9. David McCook, McGuire (USA), s.t.
10. Chris Horner, Webcor (USA), s.t.