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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor
Jamie Paolinetti thanked all the right people after his win Friday at the First Charter Criterium in Shelby, North Carolina. His sponsors were great. His teammates did their jobs. And, oh yeah, the Saturn team helped out quite a bit too. See, for all but the first few laps, plus the one that counts the most — the last one — a Saturn rider was near the front pushing the pace.
“Having Saturn up there forced Mercury and Prime Alliance to chase all day,” said Paolinetti, who rides for NetZero. “There’s no question that helped at the end because they weren’t around.”
And at the end it was Paolinetti easily out-sprinting a visibly gassed Matt DeCanio of Saturn to win the 60-lap race around the flat 1.4km course, while a watered down Mercury-Viatel squad and Prime Alliance were no where in sight.
The crux of the race came with two laps to go when Paolinetti made a solo-jump to a six-rider chase that included teammate Matt Yates. That effort made NetZero the lone team with two riders in pursuit of DeCanio, who had opened a small gap six laps earlier. From there, following a hard pull from Yates, Paolinetti was able to jump across to DeCanio. The sprint was a mere formality.
“I was toast,” said the 24-year-old DeCanio, who finished two seconds behind Paolinetti, who won with a time of 1:43:21.2. Navigators Todd Littlehales was the next man across, 3.8 seconds back of Paolinetti.
Saturn’s strategy had been to try to win the race with a breakaway because the team was without top speedster Ivan Dominguez, who broke his wrist at the BMC race in Austin. First to go was Eric Wohlberg, who along with Navigators Glen Mitchell, pushed away from the field 15 laps into the race. The duo’s effort was admirable, as they managed to stay away for the next 27 laps on the 8-turn course in the Uptown district of Shelby. But with 18 laps to go, the peloton sucked in the would-be runaways.
Next up was a group that included Saturn’s Trent Klasna, already the winner of stage races at Redlands and Sea Otter. Klasna, Juan Pineda (7Up-Colorado-Cyclist) and George Menard (Snow Valley) made their move with 14 laps to go. But like the last group, they too were reabsorbed, this time with eight laps to go.
DeCanio was the last to give it a go, taking off with six laps remaining. “We knew we had to keep going for it,” DeCanio said. “Without Ivan here the only way we were going to win it was in a breakaway.”
It didn’t work.
As for Mercury, they were never able to get the less-and-less familiar sea foam train together, leaving Marty Nothstein shaking his head afterward. “I had to do too much work at the end,” he said. “I tried to get up there but the help just wasn’t there.”
Meanwhile, two-time defending champion Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance) never made it to the end, crashing out with a few laps to go. “My front tire just washed out on me,” said Carney, a bloodied left leg to show for it. “It’s too bad because I felt like I could have won it again.”
After the race most of the riders were quickly packing up their things to make the three-and-a-half hour drive south to Athens, Georgia, for the Twilight Criterium. That race is slated for 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. The women will also be in action in Athens, with their race scheduled for 6:15. Check back to www.VeloNews.com for complete coverage.
FIRST CHARTER CRITERIUM, Shelby, N.C., April 27
1. Jamie Paolinetti, NetZero; 2. Matt DeCanio, Saturn; 3. Todd Littlehales, Navigators; 4. Franky Van Haesbroucke (B), Navigators; 5. Matt Yates, NetZero; 6. Graeme Miller (NZ), NetZero; 7. John Lieswyn, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 8. Derek Bouchard-Hall, Mercury-Viatel; 9. Juan Pineda, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 10. Jason Waddell, MathisBrothers.com/CRRC; 11. Jonathan Wirsing, Team Snow Valley; 12. Roberto Gaggioli (I), DeFeet/LeMond; 13. Jim Baldesare, Gomart; 14. Rainiel Sanchez, Team Snow Valley; 15. Charles Dionne, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist; 16. Shawn Willard, DeFeet/LeMond; 17. Kirk O’Bee, Navigators; 18. Chris Frederick, Jamis; 19. Alex Candelario, THF Racing; 20. Oscar Pineda, 7UP-Colorado Cyclist.
MORGANTON EYE PHYSICIANS TIME TRIAL
1. Bouchard-Hall; 2. Marty Nothstein, Mercury-Viatel; 3. Erin Hartwell, Saturn; 4. Andrew Broas, Reality Bikes; 5. Ryan Miller, Prime Alliance.