The 17th annual U.S. 10K Classic held in Atlanta, Georgia has approximately 11,000 runners, walkers, cyclists and inline skaters competing on one of America’s most challenging courses, raising awareness and funds for children’s charities and the development of the World Children’s Center. Its 100K Men’s Pro road race is one of the most well known events in the southeast (women’s report here). The prize list of $10,000 attracts not only strong local talent, but some of the best domestic racers as well. This year’s edition also had two special racers lining up: George Hincapie of BMC and Craig Lewis of HTC-Columbia.
When asked about why he was lining up for a race when the sun still hadn’t broken the horizon Hincapie said, “I’ve been off the bike for a while (due to a knee injury sustained in the Tour of Utah). I wanted to try to get my legs rolling and finish off the season with the World Cups (in Canada) and Nationals. I needed to at least get one race in, so this wasn’t a bad idea.”
The rumor circulating prior to the race was that George’s brother, Rich, was actually gunning for the win and was expecting his younger brother to lead him out. George said little to dispel those rumors.
“He’s got a pair of my wheels on and he’s all fired up, so we’ll see how he does.”
When pushed to give a more accurate assessment to his older brother’s chances of success George was blunt.
“I’m hoping he finishes – honestly.”
The men were racing for 100 kilometers on wide rolling streets which included 10 laps of a five mile loop. It was after these loops that the riders deviated toward the finishing line – a fast downhill into a short incline to the finish line. Most racers change their big ring from the standard 53 to a 56 in anticipation of a 45 mile an hour plus field sprint.
With a straight road in front of the peloton it didn’t take long for the peloton to get up to speed on South Cobb Parkway. Unfortunately in the opening miles several riders crashed reportedly due to a pot hole. Most of the riders were able to remount except for one rider. In a scene reminiscent of the Beloki crash in the 2003 Tour de France, he laid on the street moaning in agony as first responders attended to him.
The first break of the day occurred on the opening five-mile laps of the race. Seven riders from smaller teams banded together in hopes that this early move might catch the peloton napping. At one point, the break had over four minutes on the group. However on the third of 11 laps Hincapie and Lewis went to the front to pin it back. Each lap the gap became smaller and smaller, until with just two laps remaining of the five mile loop the peloton was all together – for the moment.
This past Saturday Joey Rosskopf of Mountain Khakis took a solo win in the Tour de la France criterium in Anderson, South Carolina by just rolling off the front. If it had worked before, why not try again?
With a slight lull in the action Rosskopf surged and went off the front with Winston David (Ion United Healthcare) and Philip Gaimon (Kenda Pro). With just a handful of miles remaining this looked like the winning move.
The famous landmark for the racers is “the chicken” – a huge red mechanized chicken advertising the KFC restaurant beneath it. At this monument to fried chicken is where the racers know they are within a kilometer of the finish line and it’s time to shift into the biggest gear they have.
Gaimon jumped at “the chicken” and Rosskopf sat on his wheel waiting for the right moment to come off his draft. Without the advantage of a 56 tooth big ring (Rosskopf was pedaling his usual 53 ring) he had to wait until the very last moment to launch off Gaimon’s wheel.
“I waited until the very last minute when it (the road) kicked up a little bit. I came out of his draft at the start of the rise to the finish.”
His gear ratio choice did cause some concern for the 21-year old rider.
“It had me a little worried because everyone was comparing chain ring sizes at the start.”
However his standard 53 tooth big ring was all that was required to get past both Gaimon and David, crossing the line first. The hard working Kenda rider Gaimon rolled across the line in third.
Two days prior Rosskopf had called his Tour de la France victory in Anderson his biggest ever. Now 48 hours later and with another victory under his belt the Athens resident’s biggest victory was now the Atlanta 100K Classic.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better to boost my confidence for this race,” said Rosskopf about the Tour de la France criterium.
“I’m more of an endurance rider and I can ride longer than an hour. I rolled off the front and like Saturday and we just stuck it. I was lucky to have good riders with me today. Phil Gaimon was sticking it to keep us away.”
Rich Hincapie did finish the 100K road race.
MEN’S RESULTS (full)