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RAAM Update: Austrians take team race; Larsen closing in on solo win

Harreither-VAV Versicherung won the 2003 Insight Race Across America team competition Sunday night when the four men crossed the finish line on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey at 10:13 p.m.(EST). The four Austrian cyclists rode a relay from San Diego over the course of six days, six hours and 13 minutes. After initial head-to-head battles with Team Vail-Go Fast in the deserts of Southern California, Harreither has led the race since Vail withdrew after one of its riders was killed in a tragic accident in New Mexico. (see "RAAM rider killed in New Mexico") The members of the

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By Steve Medcroft, Special to VeloNews.com

Harreither-VAV Versicherung won the 2003 Insight Race Across America team competition Sunday night when the four men crossed the finish line on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey at 10:13 p.m.(EST).

The four Austrian cyclists rode a relay from San Diego over the course of six days, six hours and 13 minutes. After initial head-to-head battles with Team Vail-Go Fast in the deserts of Southern California, Harreither has led the race since Vail withdrew after one of its riders was killed in a tragic accident in New Mexico. (see “RAAM rider killed in New Mexico“)

The members of the winning team are Reinhard Hormann, a police officer from Rohrendorf, Peter Schwab, an electrician from Krems, Peter Dammerer, a teacher from Krems and Thomas Riegler, a student from Waidhofen.

The Other Team Competitions All that’s left to record the entire team competition into RAAM’s history now is for the remaining teams to finish the final few hundred miles into Atlantic City. Second place team, Arete Racing, is expected to arrive first thing Monday morning.

The battle for third and fourth could be close. Team Power of Mind (Germany) and Team Florida Orthopedic Institute (Tampa, Florida) are currently within 45 minutes of each other on the road. With not much more than 18 hours of racing left, we could see a challenge for the third spot in the four-man team competition.

Of the other team competitions (four-person mixed, two-man, corporate), there are a couple of battles not yet decided. Four-person mixed teams Hydro Charge and Groupo Guapo passed time station 51 in Spring Grove, Pennsylvania, within one hour of each other.

One RAAM hour is a small enough gap with 160 miles to go that a push by Groupo Guapo could mean a two-way horserace to the Boardwalk for one team to have the right to call themselves category champions.

Racing the clock The challenge is the real beauty of RAAM. It is a race, for sure. But for most of the competitors, a placement is only a bonus to the prize of competing and finishing the ride itself. That is one of the reasons why the story of racers like Rebecca Smith are so compelling.

Smith is riding within one time station of solo male Paul Bonds. Together, they are bringing up the rear of the race. At her current average speed, she should be worried that she will not reach the finish line under RAAM’s official time cut (June 27th at noon).

But this fact is not daunting the Smith team whatsoever. One of the crew said today that Rebecca was “hanging in there” — and determined to make it to Atlantic City.”

To reach that goal, he said, “we just need a few good days.”

Speaking from the challenging, rolling highways around Jefferson City, Missouri, he said that Smith wasn’t “breaking any speed records through these rollers today but we hope to have good days in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania”

“She will finish, regardless of the time cutoff,” he promised. “Knowing this lady, she’ll do it. She’s tough.”

The Solo Race The solo race is, of course, still underway. Allen Larsen is probably less than a cycle of the sun away from realizing RAAM victory in only his second running of the race.

Fueled on pure ambition and faith, he’s been willing himself along at a 14-plus mile per hour average and had reached Smithburg, West Virginia by Sunday evening. With less than 450 miles remaining to Atlantic City, RAAM officials predict that Larsen will greet his wife Teresa and his young daughters, Kimberlee and Faith sometime in the middle of the night Monday.

Rob Kish maintains his hold on second place, a good 160 miles ahead of third. Considering that he’s entered and looks to finish his 18th RAAM, has won three times, has six second place finishes already, as well as two thirds and a litany of other results, (including the time record), it’s amazing he’s so strong.

Behind Kish, the order of finishers is still to be sorted out. Marcel Knaus, a 33-year-old rookie from Liechtenstein, and Jure Robic, a 38-year-old rookie from Slovenia passed the time station in Troy, Ohio within 32 minutes of each other.

The Road Ahead Larsen needs only to work through the climbs of West Virginia, across the border into Maryland, cut through Pennsylvania before he can sprint the last 65 miles across New Jersey to the finish. Despite physical discomfort and ongoing problems with his back, and the fact that his average speed has slipped a little in the past 24 hours, he is said to be strong.

Current Standings:
Rider – last time check – time reachedMen’s Solo
Allen Larsen – 2494.8 – 21:49
Rob Kish – 2315.1 – 20:45
Jure Robic – 2264.3 – 22:20
Marcel Knaus – 2264.3 – 22:52
Marko Baloh – 2205.1 – 20:30
Rick Ashabranner – 2205.1 – 22:00
Terry Lansdell – 2205.1 – 23:45
Ish Makk – 2150.0 – 20:35
Dino Nico Valsesia – 2150.0 – 20:47
Martin Lorenz – 2150.0 – 22:35
Mark Patten – 1951.6 – 20:29
Keith Krombel – 1951.6 – 23:00
Beny Furrer – 1887.2 – 21:55
Attila Kaldi – 1834.8 – 23:00
Paul Bonds – 1703.7 – 15:00Women’s Solo
Rebecca Smith – 1760.8 – 18:20Two Person Men’s Team
Rieper / Goodwin – 2406.1 – 21:47
Epic Racing – 2406.1 – 00:22Four Person Men’s Team
Harreither/VAV Versicherung – Winner – 22:13
Areté Racing – 2760.9 – 22:16
Team FOI – 2583.7 – 22:44
Power of Mind – 2583.7 – 23:30Four Person Mixed
Hydro Charge – 2760.9 – 23:34
Grupo Guapo – 2760.9 – 00:27Corporate Team
Team Insight – 2760.9 – 00:00
Ride To Remember – 2715.1 – 23:48