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USPRO Championship: Americans go 1-2-3 with Rodriguez on top

3:02 p.m. With half a mile to go Fred Rodriguez broke away from the lead group and held on to win the 17th USPRO Championship. Rodriguez finished the 156-mile race. Second place went to Saturn’s Trent Klasna. George Hincapie came across third, after winning a sprint with Fabrizio Guidi. Check back soon for full reports on both the men's and women's races. 2:54 The gap between the six leaders and the field has now grown back up to 22 seconds with just three miles to go. 2:51 The gap between the group of six and the field has been whittled to 15 seconds. Mercury’s Henk Vogels, who launched

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By John Wilcockson

3:02 p.m. With half a mile to go Fred Rodriguez broke away from the lead group and held on to win the 17th USPRO Championship. Rodriguez finished the 156-mile race. Second place went to Saturn’s Trent Klasna. George Hincapie came across third, after winning a sprint with Fabrizio Guidi. Check back soon for full reports on both the men’s and women’s races.

2:54 The gap between the six leaders and the field has now grown back up to 22 seconds with just three miles to go.

2:51 The gap between the group of six and the field has been whittled to 15 seconds. Mercury’s Henk Vogels, who launched the initial attack during the last climb up the wall, is trying to jump across. Postal’s Matt White has stayed right on his wheel.

2:35 Things have heated up at the USPRO Championships. With just 12 miles to go, a group of six representing most of the major players has put 40 seconds on the field. The riders in the break are Saturn’s Trent Klasna, CSC’s Jakob Piil, Mercury’s Fabrizio Guidi, Mapei’s Pedro Munoz, Postal’s George Hincapie, and Domo-Farm Frites Fred Rodriguez.

2:23 p.m. On the final approach to Manayunk Wall, with about 50 minutes left in the race, Henk Vogels and Viatcheslav Ekimov have a 10-second gap on the field. Vogels, who is the race’s defending champion, initially got away on his own before the Russian U.S. Postal rider joined him. Prior to Vogels attack, the Saturn team launched several efforts to get away, one by Soren Peterson and one by Harm Jansen. Postal’s Levi Leipheimer and Mercury’s Mike Sayers covered those moves.

2:02 p.m. With less than an hour to go, and just one lap left, it looks like the 17th running of the USPRO Championships may come down to a field sprint. On the last trip up the Manayunk Wall several small attacks were launched, including one by George Hincapie, but no one has gotten away and the field of 100-plus riders is still together 120 miles into the 146-mile race.

1:52 p.m.Just over an hour to go, the field has just finished 8 laps… the field has closed down the break, so they hit that last lap pretty hard, averaging 28mph. Crossing the line with two laps to go and there are now about 100 riders in the lead. The wind is picking up and keeping things a little cooler. George Hincapie is looking at ease and comfortable. Certainly, Postal has been in command with three riders in that first big break and monitoring things now that they are all back together. Stay tuned and keep using that refresh button to make certain you’re getting our latest update.

1:15 p.m. At the end of the seventh lap, 104 miles into the race, the three-man breakaway of Sheehan, Perez and Wacker had lost nearly a minute of their advantage. They are now 4:08 ahead of the main field. In between the leaders and the field U.S. Postal’s David Zabriskie was attempting to jump to the leaders. But with just 33 seconds on a fast moving peloton, his effort had little chance of succeeding. The temperature in Philadelphia has reached 83 degrees and the wind has begun to pick up, a welcome change for the overheated riders.

12:43 p.m. 7UP’s Clark Sheehan made a spectacular chase the sixth time over Manayunk Wall and has now joined Perez and Wacker in the break. The South African, Daniel Spence, dropped back the chase group, which appears to have let up the pace as the main field closes in. Sheehan, Perez and Wacker have a lead of 2 minutes over the chase group of 13 riders. The field was at 5:56 as they set out on the seventh of 10 main laps.

12:08 p.m. Spaniard Luis Perez of the Festina Lotus squad and South African Daniel Spence attacked and broke away from the lead group of 16 the fifth time up the Manayunk Wall. Polish MROZ-Supradyn rider Eugen Wacker then bridged up to the duo, putting 3 riders at the front of the race. The group of 13 behind the lead trio had a lead of 6:40 over the main field.

11:35 a.m. After 4 of 10 main laps, the lead group of 16 riders has a significant time gap of 8:09 on the main field. Three U.S. Postal riders are in the breakaway group, which does not include any of the race favorites. Other teams represented are Saturn, with two riders, 7UP with two, CSC, IBM , Festina, Mapei, Zaxby’s and Mercury. There are also 3 chasers trying to bridge at 2:43.

10:58 a.m. Men, completed their third lap… almost two hours into the race. The lead group is now 16 riders strong, with an incredible 7:00 gap on the main field where all of the day’s race favorites are.

As we said earlier, the U.S. Postal team has three riders in the break – David Zabriskie, Benoit Joachim and Robbie Ventura. Saturn is down to two riders — Frank McCormack and Chris Fisher. Mercury is represented only by Mike Sayers. Festina has two riders in the break — Luis Perez and Nicolas Reynaud – as does 7UP-Colorado Cyclist – Clark Sheehan and Ryan Guay. Poland’s Mroz – Supradyn Witaminy squad is also represented by two riders, including Zbigniew Kyrzykowski. Daniel Spence (IBM-Lotus), the man who initiated this break – way back on the first ascent of the Manayunk – is still in the break, too.

10:26 a.m. (Eastern Time) The men have completed their second lap, in a time of 31:51. The opening lap was completed in a blazing 30:22, one of the fastest opening laps on record. Things are now settling down. The lead group and the leaders have reabsorbed the two leaders and that group was joined by three riders, including Clark Sheehan (7UP-Colorado Cyclist).

Behind the leaders are two riders at 1:30 and three others at 2:00. The main field is now at 2:20.

9:58 a.m. (Eastern Time) – It is already 78 degrees and warming. There was another split as the leaders hit the Manayunk for the second time of the day. Festina’s Luis Perez and Daniel Spence have broken away from the other 12 leaders with a gap of 10 seconds and the next group in another 40 seconds behind.

9:50 a.m. (Eastern time) The men have completed the first full 17.4-mile lap and there is a of 14 riders with a 29-second advantage over the field. The break includes IBM-Lotus’s Daniel Spence, who initiated the charge up the Manayunk Wall. Interestingly, it also includes three riders from U.S. Postal – David Zabriskie, Benoit Joachim and Robbie Ventura – and three riders from Saturn — Harm Jansen, Frank McCormack and Chris Fisher. Mercury is represented only by Mike Sayers. Other teams represented in the break include the Danish CSC squad, Festina, MROZ and 7UP-Colorado Cyclist.

9:30 a.m. (Eastern time)The men have just crested the Manayunk Wall for the first time, lead by South African Daniel Spence (IBM-Lotus). The pressure was really on as the group hit the Manayunk and the peloton has now split into three groups.

9:13 a.m. (Eastern time)The men’s race is underway and the day’s first winner is Clark Sheehan (7UP-Colorado Cyclist). Sheehan won the first prime at the end of the three small opening laps here at the USPRO Championship. So, after three miles, Clark Sheehan has earned $500.

The women’s race is about to start as well. In addition to being the biggest single-day pay out in women’s racing, this event is, of course, also a World Cup, so there should be an interesting tactical battle to lock up World Cup points, too.

Well keep separate updates of both races throughout the day here at VeloNews.com.

8:54 (Eastern)It’s a beautiful morning in Philadelphia as we ready for the start of the First Union USPRO Championship in about five minutes. It’s 70 degrees with a slight breeze, causing just a ripple in the flags above the art museum here in Philadelphia.

It’s a big weekend for Philadelphia as tonight is the third game of the NBA final and we see as many ‘76ers flags lining the course here as we do American flags.

There are 159 starters this morning, facing 156 miles. A lot of people are expecting that George Hincapie – after his spectacular spring classics season this year – is set to take the USPRO jersey and that is a good pick, but we also have to keep our eyes on Saturn’s Trent Klasna. Of course, the jersey goes to the top American finisher but the race itself may be won by one of the many foreign riders competing in this, the richest single-day bike race in the world. Jakob Piil and, of course, the Mercry team is here with five or six potential winners, including last year’s top finisher, Henk Vogels from Australia.

Check back for regular updates throughout the day here at VeloNews.com and don’t forget to use your refresh button to make sure your getting our most recent report.