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Tuesday, November 28

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Cycling Mon Aug 04 2008

Elk Grove to Glencoe

This weekend saw some big names in professional cycling come through and lay waste to suburban Elk Grove and Schaumburg in the Tour of Elk Grove, and lest we forget, amateurs from Cat. 5 to 1 did their fair share, too.

Friday night belonged to those guys who get paid to ride their bikes, with a 4.5 mile time-trial, with a $15,000 purse. Tom Zirbel of the Bissell Pro Cycling Team came in with a time of 8:36.37 minutes, and local pro Reid Mumford of Kelly Benefits Strategies/Medifast came in 6th with a time of 8:49.07.

Saturday, the action heated-up with a citizens' team time trial, amateur criteriums, and a road race for the pros that had them riding in a loop through Schaumburg for the better part of 150km, and finishing up in Elk Grove with four laps of the 4.5 mile time-trial course. Several crashes marred the racing, bikes and skin of riders in several of the categories. Adrian Silva, a rider for the Half Acre Cycling Team and a teammate of mine, went down in a pile-up while chasing a breakaway in the last few laps of the first heat of the Cat. 5 series. "We were working together to catch back up to the break, but someone touched wheels in front of me and we all crashed on top of each other. I ran over someone's bike and someone ran into me."

Tomasz Boba of WDT came through in the men's Cat. 3 race to take home $1,000. Kristin Meshberg of Team Flatlandia banked $650 for her first place in the Women's Pro/1/2 race; Jeannie Kuhajek of New Zealand rolled in for second, and Anne Meyer in third.

While many of these races were going on, the pro men were out on the road. Occasionally, the race announcers would cut in on their commentary of the criteriums and give an update or two; being that this was a flat race, breakaway efforts were hard to make and were brought back in after being left to dangle in the wind. At around 6:00 PM, word came out over the P.A. that the racers were soon heading into the criterium course to finish out in front of all of the spectators. Soon, police motorcycles came screaming by and then there they were. Toyota-United was at the front of the pack, keeping the pace of 30-32 MPH consistent - with $45,000 at stake, they were taking no chances of letting someone slip off the front to make off with the dough.

And let no one by they did - Hilton Clarke with the help of his T-U teammates tore into his sprint, ahead of David Veilleux of Kelly Benefits and Nic Sanderson of Jelly Belly.

But while the pros are uncanny bike handlers, they still take their spills. On their last lap around, a call came out that there was a crash in the final corner. Alex Candelario of Kelly Benefits wiped out, bringing down Chris Horner of the Astana cycling team. Horner, who was slated to represent his team in the Vuelte de Espana, came out of the mess with a broken collarbone and is likely not racing his bike for the next eight weeks.

Sunday was a day for the Master's men: Timothy Henry of Project 5 Racing won the Cat. 3/4 race; Jeff Schroetlin of ABD/Geargrinder took the 1/2 Master's stage race. Brad Huff of Jelly Belly won the pro criterium ahead of David Veilleux of Kelly Benefits, who incidentally won the whole series and banked some serious cash.

Looking ahead, this Sunday is the second-annual Glencoe Grand Prix criterium. The four-cornered course, just shy of one mile long, is one that favors the bike-handlers with a sharp corner at turn four and 90-degree bends everywhere else. There are plenty of spots open across all categories and with this weekend's weather prediction of sunny skies and 75 degree highs, there's little excuse to not ride up to watch or ride up to race.

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