cycling utah June 1999
By David R. Ward
The Cycle Salt Lake Week kicked off with the E-Center Criterium on Friday, May 14. Race organizers designed a counterclockwise course with a straightaway at the Start/Finish, and three tight but sweeping turns on the backside.
This set the stage for a fast race in which it was difficult to keep the peloton together. This was born out in the racing as, in each category, the race was won with either a solo or group breakaway.
Category 1-3 Men
The last race of the evening, the men took off at 10 p.m. At the gun, John Foster (Net.Now) attacked, with Thom Cooke joining on. They were soon joined by two other racers, and it appeared that an early, successful break might be established.
However, other riders in the peloton were not content to sit back and let the break go. Soon, two other riders bridged up to the break. They were followed by three more, and then two more. Behind the leaders, the chase group was strung out from the pursuit of the break and eventually the peloton had split into two groups.
Foster attacked again, this time with Dave Wood (Rhodes). They eventually chased down and lapped the chase group with about 20 minutes to go. Shortly thereafter, the rest of the lead group lapped the chase group, and the riders were all back together.
With eight minutes to go, Ryan Alison (Net.Now) attacked. With teammates blocking, he was able to quickly open a gap. He increased his lead for the next couple of laps, and with one to go, it appeared he had the race safely in hand.
Other riders thought differently, though, and a hard charge saw the gap to Alison begin to narrow quickly. "They were coming fast," Alison said. "I began to think they might catch me." Alas, though not too little an effort, it was too late, and Alison was able to race across the finish line for the win.
Wood, who earlier had won the Masters race, won the group sprint to finish a fine evening with second place. He was followed by Joel Kath (Mi Duole), who had been extremely active in the race, for third.
Speaking of his team, Net.Now, which had all five riders in the lead group, Alison said, "We're finally starting to come into form. We want to get [team sponsor] Micron's name out there. They have been a good sponsor."
Category 1-3 Women
Andrea Foster started the action for the women. She attacked early and quickly opened a gap. Alison Bergerson (Rhodes) recognized an opportunity, jumped from the pack with Angela Snyder (Nissan) and quickly caught and passed Foster who slipped in behind them.
After working together for awhile, Snyder was no longer able to maintain their fast pace, was dropped and rejoined the main pack. Bergerson and Foster continued to work together for the next 20 minutes as they increased their lead.
As they began to close the gap to the peloton, Bergerson attacked and lapped the main group. She remained, and finished the race, with the main group to take the victory.
Foster could never close the gap to the main group, and finished alone in second place. Laura Howatt (Mi Duole), a familiar face of the recent past staging a return to the sport, took the group sprint to finish third.
Bergerson, age 27, is in her first full racing season and has been training with veteran racer Ryan Littlefield. "I'm having fun. This is awesome."
The Masters provided the fastest start of the night. At the gun, Paul Quinlan (Mi Duole) shot off the front. The pack quickly fell into a long, thin line as riders labored to hang on. By the end of the first lap, and less than 50 seconds into the race, a lead group including Quinlan, Darrel Davis and Brent Farr (both Rhodes), Jamie Thompson (Logan Race Club) and Mark Shaefer (Unattached) had formed.
This group put the pedal to it, and kept increasing their lead lap after lap. Meanwhile, Dave Wood (Rhodes) could see the race was getting away and jumped from the pack in an attempt to bridge. Caught in between, he was unable to close the distance to the break. Fortunately, David Gibson had also attempted to bridge. As Wood began to fade, Gibson came by and they joined up. After a brief rest, Wood and Gibson worked together.
Meanwhile, the break was closing on, and eventually rejoined, the main group. After a few more laps, Wood and Gibson finally caught the main group, raising to seven the total number of riders lapping the pack.
With several laps to go, the leaders began to attack out of the peloton to separate themselves from the others. Finally, Wood, Davis and Thompson succeeded in breaking off the front. Teammates Wood and Davis, then took turns trying to forge a solo break from Thompson.
On the final lap, Wood finally was able to open a small gap on Thompson on the backside while Davis sat on Thompson's wheel. Wood flashed across the finish to win, with Thompson outsprinting Davis for second place.
"I didn't warm up before the race," Wood stated in explaining his inability to bridge to the lead break. When joined by Gibson, "I finally started to feel good." Commenting on the course, Wood said, "It was tough. The course was a little too tight, but it was fun."