Another beautiful day greeted the riders for the Greenville Spring Training Series. The fourth race in the series was again at the very familiar Donaldson Center loop, a rolling seven mile circuit. However, the wind was blowing which would play havoc with any solo moves or small breakaways.
The race action in the women’s field started on the first lap of five with Monika Sattler (NCVC/United HealthCare) rolling off the front. Team Headstrong rider Sam Smith bridged across and joining her was teammate Giselle Weekes. Now committed to staying away, the threesome started to work together.
With one lap remaining Smith was feeling the strain. “I said to Giselle I can’t anymore – you go.”
When Smith was absorbed into the field a loud celebratory cheer went out from the riders – they thought the group was all together. In fact Weekes and Sattler were still away with a minute gap.
With teammate Weekes up the road Smith and Cristina Lindsey went to the front of the pack to slow down any efforts to catch the break.
Sattler has a reputation as a sprinter so the Headstrong rider tucked in behind her waiting for the moment to launch her sprint. The United Healthcare rider wound up her sprint and with just 50 meters to the line Weekes slung out of Sattler’s draft and took the win.
“I knew I had to win because I had teammates back there (in the chasing pack),” explained Weekes.
The reason for leaving the sprint to the very last moment was due to the fact she didn’t want to go mano a mano against the faster sprinter. “I did not want to drag race here.”
The men’s field was, as usual, packed with talent. RealCyclist.com was on the start line looking to keep their unbroken winning streak alive. On the front row of the start line was George Hincapie in the red and black kit of BMC. Coincidentally in Belgium the semi-classic Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne was being contested – a race Hincapie had won in 2005.
Also in in the field were three riders from United Healthcare: Davide Frattini, Jacob Keough and Adrian Hegyvary. Of course the usual local heroes were in attendance guaranteeing a fast race.
The wind continued to be a factor. It was blowing strongly creating a fierce tailwind on the finishing stretch. On the other side of this large oval course riders would be facing a crosswind.
Just like the last Donaldson race a week prior, a large break of about 20 riders went away on the first lap. This included several orange kits of RealCyclist.com, Hincapie/Green Creation and the solo black and red kit belonging to George Hincapie. The next lap several riders had been dropped and it was down to 13 which included Hincapie, three RealCyclist.com riders, several Green Creation jerseys and a lone Hincapie Development rider. It was obvious that Hincapie was going to make this a race of attrition.
When the race was in the crosswind section Hincapie and the RealCyclist.com squad put the hammer down putting those who couldn’t, or wouldn’t work, into the gutter. This eventually shed the break of any non-contributors.
One team that had missed the move was United Heathcare. The three riders got to the front and strung out the pack in the attempt to rectify their mistake. But after several laps, and with the time splits getting larger and larger, it was obvious that it would take more than those three riders to bring back the Hincapie powered break.
With two laps to go the break was well established with almost a six minute gap. The winner was going to come from one of the six riders still off the front: three from RealCyclist.com, Hincapie, Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1), and Charles Hutcheson (XO Communication/ Battley Harley-Davidson).
The odds were stacked in favor of RealCyclist.com – they had three of the six riders in the break: Frank Travieso, Cole House and Tommy Nankervis. However never underestimate what George might do. At the last Donaldson race he sat up to let the sprinters duke it out. Today was his last race before he traveled to Europe, so he might like to win one in the series that bears his name.
On the horizon three riders were out of the saddle sprinting hard for the win. With the sun at their backs the racers looked like charging shadows. It could not be immediately determined who was fighting for the top step of the podium. With 200 meters remaining it was obvious that the large shadow was Hincapie along with two RealCyclist.com riders. In the end it was RealCyclist.com rider Frank Travieso who out kicked Big George for the win. This was Travieso’s third victory in the series, second win on the Donaldson course and it continues RealCyclist.com’s perfect winning streak in the Spring Series.
“Cole (House – RealCyclist.com) went to the front with about one and a half kilometers to go,” explained Travieso. “Then Tommy (Nankervis – RealCyclist.com) took over with 500 meters to go. He went so fast that I didn’t think I could get off of his wheel, but I saw George coming so I had to go. I think today he (George) tried.”
When jokingly asked if he would give George a hard time because he beat the BMC rider in the sprint Travieso replied, “There’s no way I can give George a hard time. He’s a legend.”
Next weekend will be the final races in the Spring Series. Saturday is the River Falls road race and is considered the hardest of all the courses. Sunday the series returns one more time to the Donaldson Center to close out the three weekends of racing.
Select photos courtesy of Eddie Helton Photography.