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The Carney Files: Superweek’s opening weekend

Stage 1 of Superweek was held in the South Chicago suburb of Beverly. The race was scheduled for 5:35 p.m. on Friday evening. All the athletes enjoyed an authentic taste of Chicago, being treated to several fun-filled hours of bumper to bumper traffic. Everything got off to a late start though, and nobody seemed to miss the start. It was the first year for the stage in Beverly, but surprisingly the crowd was great. Prior to our race, they had a Big Wheel race for the kids, which is always cool. There was also live music and food adjacent to the racecourse. All the fans seemed super excited

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By Jonas Carney, Prime Alliance cycling team

Stage 1 of Superweek was held in the South Chicago suburb of Beverly. The race was scheduled for 5:35 p.m. on Friday evening. All the athletes enjoyed an authentic taste of Chicago, being treated to several fun-filled hours of bumper to bumper traffic. Everything got off to a late start though, and nobody seemed to miss the start.

It was the first year for the stage in Beverly, but surprisingly the crowd was great. Prior to our race, they had a Big Wheel race for the kids, which is always cool. There was also live music and food adjacent to the racecourse. All the fans seemed super excited and cheered us on for the entire 100km event.

The course had a small hill on it, and a couple of technical corners. Almost every corner was accented by a manhole, which made them hard to navigate. It’s hard to take corners at full speed when you’re trying to avoid manholes. Fortunately these manholes were covered and dry. Everyone knows that there’s nothing worse than a poorly covered and/or wet manhole.

An early break formed with the Belorussian Concussion (Viktor Rapinski of Saturn), and Andy “the Volcano” Crater (Lemond Fitness-Captain-Cra-Z-Soap). Soon after, a second group split off, led by Robby “the K-town Motor” Ventura (U.S. Postal Service). I jumped across to the chase group on the hill. A couple laps later, I punched it through some tight corners and joined the Concussion and the Volcano. Nobody in the chase group was able to follow, and in my expert opinion, this was probably due to poor manhole avoidance techniques.

The chase group kept us close for about five laps, but eventually they cried poo poo and were reabsorbed by the peloton. After about 25 miles off the front, we lapped the field. At that point, the pace was pretty slow, as most riders seemed to be waiting for some bigger primes that never materialized.

In classic Superweek style it started getting dark with ten laps remaining and things got a little sketchy. Viktor, Andy and I kept a close watch on each other, while simultaneously trying to stay out of trouble. In the sprint I jumped early, catching Viktor off guard and taking the win by several lengths. Crater finished third.

So after stage one, I am sporting yellow just like my hero Richard Virenque (yeah right). I’m also in the red sprinter’s jersey.

Beverly results:
1 Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance)
2 Viktor Rapinski (Saturn)
3 Andy Crater (Lemond Fitness/Captain CRA-Z Soap)
4 Carlos Vargas (Saturn Development)
5 Bill Innes (Lemond Fitness/Captain CRA-Z Soap)

“Superweak” Stage 2 was the Otto Grunski Criterium in Menasha, WI. The Grunski is in its 32nd year and is a classic here in Wisconsin. The course is dead flat and has only three corners. The final turn is a hairpin, followed by a long finishing straight. It’s extremely hard to get away because the course is so easy. There’s always some random dude willing to destroy himself on the front for no other reason than to ensure that you don’t win.

The Grunski went down in its usual fashion … lots of guys had fresh legs, so nothing could escape for almost half the race. Eventually, after all the random dudes had destroyed themselves, Ivan Dominguez (Saturn), Frank Pipp (Athletes by Design), Danny In’t Ven (ICSA), and Dan Ramsey (Sierra Nevada) disappeared into the distance. They seemed destined to lap the field, as we were riding around like a bunch of schoolgirls, except of course when the 18-rider Euro juggernaut was going ballistic for $20 primes. (For those of you without a calculator, $20 divided by 18 is just a hair more than $1.11 each)

Jug-ger-naut: Something, such as a belief or institution, that elicits blind and destructive devotion or to which people are ruthlessly sacrificed.

Anyway, for some reason the break decided not to lap the field, which was a huge mistake. Eventually a powerful group formed with Harm Jansen (Holland), Dale Sedgewick (Grand Performance), and Paul Martin (Gomart). Those guys were hauling ass, and took less than 10 laps to catch the first break, who’d spent the last decade-and-a-half riding just behind the field.

Harm immediately attacked and soloed in for the win, with the Cuban Missile Crisis winning the sprint for second and In’t Ven taking third.

A few other riders snuck away in the closing laps, including Rapinski, but I managed to hold onto the yellow jersey by winning the group sprint for 11th.

Frank Pipp took over the red jersey for the sprint competition.

Menasha results:
1 Harm Jansen, Holland
2 Ivan Dominguez, Saturn
3 Danny In’t Ven, ICSA
4 Paul Martin, Gomart
5 Dan Ramsey, Sierra Nevada

Day three of Superweek was the Manitowoc criterium. It’s a dead flat, four-corner course and makes for some pretty negative racing. As the wearer of the Maillot Jaune, I was forced to make the difficult decision of whether or not to defend the jersey. I took into account the number of days remaining, the course profiles, and the strength of my potential challengers. After much deliberation and discussion with my closest advisors, I came to the conclusion that my team may not have the capacity to set tempo, chase down dangerous breakaways, and lead me out for 15 days. This conclusion was due, in part, to the fact that I have no teammates. So I relinquished the jersey by not going to Manitowoc, and instead took my dogs down to the lake to play and roll around in some dead fish.

I consulted with my agents in the field, and here’s what apparently happened in Manitowoc. Nothing could get away for the first half, but after a $300 prime a group of 19 rolled. Near the end, five guys broke clear from that group. Harm Jansen then launched out of the field and joined the five-man group. Everyone else was caught. Patrick O’Donnell (Gomart) took the win over Karel Vereeck (Soenens/Germond – Belgium) in a six up sprint. Rapinski took the field sprint for seventh.

So after three days, the Concussion is wearing the yellow jersey, and Frank Pipp is leading the sprint competition.

Manitowoc results:
1. Patrick O’Donnell, Gomart
2. Karel Vereecke, Soenens-Germond
3. Harm Jansen, Holland
4. Frank Dierking, Athletes by Design
5. Carlos Vargas, Saturn Development

Correction: After this article was written, the officials realized Viktor should have been in yellow after stage 2. This year there is a new points system. It was an honest mistake, as the officials have probably been using the old system for as long as anyone can remember.