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Weekend News Briefs: Pena tops at Murcia

The U.S. Postal team’s Victor Hugo Pena won the Tour of Murcia as the five-stageSpanish stage race wrapped up with a time trial in the city of Murcia onSunday. Czech rider Rene Andrle (ONCE), won the 12.9km time trial. Full race report to follow Stage 5, Murcia TT1. Rene Andrle (Cze) 15:22.69;2. Rubens Bertogliari (Swi) at 0:02;3. Victor Hugo Pena (Col) at 0:09;4. Jan Hruska (Cze) at 0:105. Grisha Niermann (Ger), at 0:16;6. Thomas Liese (Ger) at 0:18;7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) at 0:19;8. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) same time;9. Javier Llorente Pascual (Spa) at 0:21;10. Claus Michael Moller (Dk) at

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Season opens with traditional blood tests; Off-road in Mexico; Team reports from Visalia

Photo: Graham Watson

The U.S. Postal team’s Victor Hugo Pena won the Tour of Murcia as the five-stageSpanish stage race wrapped up with a time trial in the city of Murcia onSunday.

Czech rider Rene Andrle (ONCE), won the 12.9km time trial. Full race report to follow

Stage 5, Murcia TT
1. Rene Andrle (Cze) 15:22.69;
2. Rubens Bertogliari (Swi) at 0:02;
3. Victor Hugo Pena (Col) at 0:09;
4. Jan Hruska (Cze) at 0:10
5. Grisha Niermann (Ger), at 0:16;
6. Thomas Liese (Ger) at 0:18;
7. Levi Leipheimer (USA) at 0:19;
8. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) same time;
9. Javier Llorente Pascual (Spa) at 0:21;
10. Claus Michael Moller (Dk) at 0:26. 
Overall  
1. Victor Hugo Pena (Col) US Postal 16:49:36;
 2. Jan Hruska (Cze) at 0:05;
 3. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) at  0:10;
 4. Grischa Niermann (Ger) at 0:11;
 5. Levi Leipheimer (USA) at 0:14;
 6. Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa) at 0:16;
 7. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) at 0:17;
 8. Claus Michael Moller (Den) at 0:18;
 9. Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) at 0:25;
10. Angel Edo (Spa) at 0:26
 Morning blood tests all clear at Paris-NiceThirty-five riders from seven teams have been subjected to pre-race bloodtests prior to the prologue of the Paris-Nice in  Issy-Les-Moulineaux,France, Sunday.All riders tested were declared fit to ride the first day’s prologueof the race known as “the road to the sun”.Blood tests are carried out to determine riders’ hematocrit (volumeof red blood cells in the blood) levels, which if too high could deprivethe cyclist from starting the race.A positive or suspect blood test would also lead to a subsequent urinetest for banned endurance booster EPO (erythropoietin) and incur an automatictwo-week suspension – a policy followed since April 2001.Riders from the teams of ONCE, Domo, Phonak, Jean Delatour, Mapei, TeamCoast and Kelme were called to submit blood samples between 0615 and 0815GMT.Paris-Nice, which ends next Sunday, was the first race to carry outtests on hematocrit levels. Three riders were excluded from racing thatyear, in March 1997.Copyright AFP2002Madrigal beats Wells in Mexico
(promoter’s report)The second round of the Mexican National Series was held Saturday inHermosillo, Mexico. At the start of the race a group was formed betweenZiranda, Wells, Salvador Barriga(Turbo) and american Jason Tullows(SpeedBikes).For the second lap there where only three riders (Ziranda, Wells andTullows) in the front. Wells was looking solid and confident in front ofthe group, but at the last lap Ziranda attacked and Wells couldnt followhis wheel, Ziranda Madrigal (Turbo) won the race by 8 seconds, the secondplace was for Todd Wells (Mongoose), with an impressive last lap SalvadorBarriga was third.Ziranda and Barriga would be racing in all the World Cup events andNORBA series.1. Ziranda Madrigal (Turbo Bikes) 2:01:09;
2. Todd Wells  (Mongoose)  2:01:17;
3. Salvador Barriga (Turbo Bikes) 2:02:17;
4. Jason Tullows  (Speed Bikes) 2:03:54;
5. Armando Zacarias (Mercurio) 2:06:17;McCormack takes opener at Visalia
A team report from NavigatorsThe U.S. National Racing Calendar (NRC) continued this week with the15th running of the Sequoia Cycling Classic in Visalia, California. This 2-day event begins with the 85-mile Rocky Hill Road Race on Saturdayand finishes up on Sunday with the 49-mile downtown Visalia Criterium.This event is one of the early season races that brings out the bestfrom each of the Pro teams as each one tries to gain a strong start tothe domestic racing season. The popularity of this race is also due tothe strong community support that the racers enjoy while in Visalia. The many host families have come to strengthen old riendships with theriders and create new ones each year as this agricultural region welcomesthis annual event.The race organizers make a special effort to create a warm and friendlyevent that seems more like a community block party, complete with barbeques,than just a bike race.  It’s one of the elements that make these 2-daysof racing a favorite stop on the circuit.Today’s road race was held on a 9.5-mile circuit that featured 2 hardclimbs and plenty of strong winds to test the riders’ legs.  Withthe field stringing out on the climbs and the fast descents, and barelybunching up on the flat sections, it appeared that the course would bedoing a lot of the work today.  The aggressive action started earlywith Saturn’s Will Frischkorn gaining almost a minute in a solo attemptto get the action going on the 2nd and 3rd laps of the race, before beingreeled back in.The steep hills started taking their toll on the riders as the attackswould go, the split groups would chase and re-group on the flat sections,then get ready for the next hill.  This process of attack, chase,reshuffle was repeated on almost every lap, and served to weaken the fieldwhile the fittest were thinking about the final lap strategy.  With3 laps remaining, a group of 23 got away on the first hill and appearedto be highly motivated to succeed.  The mix of riders from each teamappeared to be a good one, and the race was on.  However, when thegap reached 1:14, the Mercury squad went to the front of the field andbegan to chase in earnest.With the gap slowly coming down, the leaders began a premature cat-and-mousegame that sprung Mark McCormack (Saturn) into a solo effort, and hastenedthe demise of the now splintered breakaway.  As the peloton enteredthe final lap, it was McCormack followed by 2 other riders that were soonreeled in as the penultimate climb was attacked.  The bunch, now numberingless than 30, appeared to remain disorganized and indecisive, as ridersdidn’t want to commit to a chase and be left vulnerable in the long, flat,wide sprint to the line.  At the end, it was McCormack taking thesolo win, followed by a group sprint that saw Hilton Clark (Schroeder Iron)win the sprint for 2nd.More from Visalia
A team report from SaturnContinuing their California campaign, the Saturn Team raced in Visalia,California today.  Hot after their respective wins last Sunday, boththe Saturn men and women were ready to do battle on Saturday’s hilly roadcourse.  And, in the second major NRC race weekend of the season theSaturn Men and Women demonstrated to the rest of their respective pelotonthat they are #1 and staying thereHeld on a hilly 9.5 mile circuit, the Rocky Hill Road Race the SaturnWomen started the morning out with their 1-2 punch. In their 50 mile, fivelap race Ina Teutenberg took top honors with a solo break with Lyne Bessettecomplimenting it with a second place solo finish.  On what is consideredto be more of a climbers course Teutenberg, who is considered one of thefastest sprinters in the peloton, showed all the climbers not only is shefast, but she is strong as well.  Teutenberg attacked on the secondtime up the one mile climb and never looked back. The Diet Rite lead chasewas never able to gain much ground with Teutenberg’s Saturn teammates,Bessette and Suzanne Sonye marking the bunch. On the fourth lap Lynn wasable to counterattack off an another rider’s attack and easily soloed infor second place over Tina Mayola (Diet Rite) who won a two up sprint forthird.Following the women’s race, the Saturn Men worked seamlessly togetherthroughout their 85 mile, nine lap race to eventually send Mark McCormackhome with a nearly identical solo win to last year’s.  The Saturnmen used their strength to execute a very well planned offensive strategywhich kept other teams on the defense for the whole race. Every Saturnteam member was involved at one point.  It was this total commitmentto teamwork that enabled the team to take control in the final lap to winthe bike race. After Trent Klasna, Soren Petersen, Eric Wohlberg, DamonKluck and Chris Fisher were involved in a mid race breakaways things moreor less came together coming into the final lap with the Mercury lead pelotondown to about 30 competitors in the front group. Up the final one mileclimb McCormack and Jansen attacked with Chris Horner of Prime alliancefollowing.  Gord Fraser, who has shown excellent form in the pastmonth’s racing, bridged across over the top of the climb, joining the threeon the descent. Jansen and McCormack then laid a siege of attackson the two riders to launch McCormack. McCormack held his solo leadfor the last five miles, holding off a charging group of Mercury, PrimeAlliance, and Navigators riders for a stellar win.