DOUBLE-DOUBLE AT HIGHLAND PARK BIKE RACE
November 6, 2005; Highland Park, New Jersey, USA: Teams representing Velo Bella and Kona both scored 1-2 finishes in the UCI International Cyclocross Race in Highland Park, New Jersey on Sunday. Held on a super-fast course laid out in Donaldson Park, along the banks of the Raritan River, in beautiful, shirt sleeve weather, the race was round six of the $30,000 Verge Mid Atlantic Cyclocross Series. And, as is usually the case on fast courses, teamwork played a major role in three of the five races.
In the featured men�s international event, Kona teammates Barry Wicks and Ryan Trebon went fast from the gun and pulled away steadily throughout the first lap -- until Trebon�s rear tire went flat nearing the end of the first lap at the part of the track that was furthest from the pits. Forced to ride with a flat, Trebon was caught and dropped by the chasing peloton. Up front, Wicks maintained a smooth, steady rhythm. Half a lap later, Trebon was able to change to a new bike in the pits. What looked to be a classic chase was short-lived, however, as Trebon caught and passed the peloton in about five minutes. Shortly afterward, he caught up to his teammate and the two neighbors from Corvallis, Oregon simply time-trialed away from the field. The two tall riders, who have won every Verge MAC race they�ve entered this year, won by such a margin that they were ready for the podium celebration and talking to reporters before Troy Wells of TIAA/CREF/Cliff Bar out-sprinted Fiordi Frutta�s Matt White for third. Though they finished together in a victory salute, it was Trebon who was credited with the win. It was a fitting goodbye, as he plans to race the rest of the winter in Europe.
In the preceding women�s international, Velo Bella teammates Christine Vardaros and Barbara Howe worked over Kona�s Georgia Gould to take first and second place. In recent races, Gould has been making a point of getting to the front early. But at Highland Park it was Massachusetts rider Rebecca Wellons (Gearworks/Spin Arts Cycling) who took the early lead, while Gould had a miserable first lap that saw her out of position on the first corner, then coming to a complete stop while straddling her bike on the first hill. However, she managed to keep in contact with the lead group -- which by the end of the first lap consisted of Gould, Howe, Vardaros, Wellons and Maureen Bruno-Roy (Independent Fabrications). The next time through the mud pit, Wellons was shed off the back of the pack and the personality of the race started to become clear. From the first lap, Vardaros had realized that Gould was having trouble in two places, the mud pit and the ride-up hill. �I told Barbara we have to go fast,� she said later, �she was privy to my plan.� The plan could have been taught as �Team Cycling 101� at neighboring Rutgers University. With the course too fast to launch any attacks, the two Velo Bella riders simply took advantage of their numerical advantage and Gould�s weaknesses. By going fast through the mud pit and the ride-up, they consistently gapped Gould, making her use extra energy to keep catching back up. When Gould would try to pass or control the tempo, Vardaros and Howe would take turns accelerating to make Gould use up even more energy. In the meantime, they were able to get a gap on Bruno-Roy to make it a three rider race. As the lead trio crested the ride-up for the final time, less than a half mile from the finish, a small gap opened as it had every other lap. But this time, Howe attacked with full force with Vardaros in tow, quickly opening an insurmountable gap on Gould. The finish at Highland Park is a long, flat asphalt road that every body thought would favor �Barbarella� in a sprint, but Vardaros had other ideas. �I knew I could get around that last corner around the tree faster than anybody,� she said. The two teammates fought the last sprint like fierce rivals and Vardaros� speed out of the final turn allowed her to hold off Howe at the line by about an inch.
Teamwork also played an important role in the Masters Age 35+ race when Mike Yozell, the winner of the last two races, fell and lost contact with the lead group. Yozell�s FORT/GPOA teammate Gunnar Shogren dropped back and paced Yozell back to the lead group and, eventually, the win. In the Men�s B race, Philadelphia�s Charles Totaro of Human Zoom held off Pittsburgh-based points leader Stephen Cummings (Kraynicks/Mezzatesta) after the previous day�s winner, Chris Case dropped his chain and bent his derailleur. Without a spare bike, Case was unable to shift for the rest of the race and spent the rest of the race closing in on the two leaders only to fall back every time they hit a paved portion of the track. It was Totaro�s first Verge MAC victory.