USPRO Championship: Rodriguez takes the jersey, Spaniard Ventoso wins the race

The earliest predictor came courtesy of the local weathermen. While it rained all day Saturday, the forecast for Sunday’s USPRO Championship in Philadelphia was for a cool but dry day. Just the kind of conditions that would make for a relatively easy trip during the 156-mile race held on a primarily flat circuit in the City of Brotherly Love. And while no one could have been feeling particularly fresh after this near-six-hour effort, 44 riders were still in play on the race’s long finishing stretch down Benjamin Franklin Parkway. That left both the race outcome and the U.S. national title in

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

He likes this color scheme

He likes this color scheme

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The earliest predictor came courtesy of the local weathermen. While it rained all day Saturday, the forecast for Sunday’s USPRO Championship in Philadelphia was for a cool but dry day. Just the kind of conditions that would make for a relatively easy trip during the 156-mile race held on a primarily flat circuit in the City of Brotherly Love. And while no one could have been feeling particularly fresh after this near-six-hour effort, 44 riders were still in play on the race’s long finishing stretch down Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

That left both the race outcome and the U.S. national title in the hands of the sprinters, and two of the world’s fastest, Spaniard Francisco Ventoso and American Fred Rodriguez, walked away with the biggest prizes. Bolstered by the confidence of a bunch-sprint win five days earlier in Lancaster, Ventoso burst from the field in Philly to take the 20th running of this prestigious race. Meanwhile, Rodriguez slipped across the line in fourth, grabbing the stars-and-stripes jersey as the top American finisher.

It was the second year in a row that the top American had finished fourth in Philly. Last year’s winner, Mark McCormack, settled for 12th on this day.

As for Rodriguez, the sprint didn’t go exactly as planned, but things still worked out. “I was too far back with about 1km to go,” said Rodriguez (Acqua & Sapone), who still managed to take his third U.S. title in five years. “I had to crank it up with about 800 meters to go, and I just didn’t have100 percent left when I needed it.”

Instead it was the 22-year-old neo-pro Ventoso (Prodir-Saunier Duval) holding off Saeco’s Antonio Bucciero and Canadian Gord Fraser (Health Net-Maxxis). Rodriguez was next, five spots ahead of Kirk O’Bee (Navigators) in the chase for the U.S. crown.

The pair of Americans were out front early in the sprint in what Rodriguez called a “straight-up drag race.” But with both being unprotected for so long, it was Ventoso, Bucciero and Fraser swarming by them at the end

“My legs did not feel so good on the climb,” said Ventoso of the race’s 10 trips up the famed 17-percent Manayunk Wall. “But with the help of my team I was able to hang on and move up at the right time. At 250 meters I went and felt really strong.”

Besides his two big results during the three-race Wachovia Cycling Series (second at Lancaster, first at Philly), Ventoso also won a stage at the early-season Tour of Qatar, solidifying his status as one to watch.

“He’s obviously a really talented guy,” conceded Rodriguez. “He’s someone you can’t let get on your wheel.”

Great field and great conditions

Great field and great conditions

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

With low, gray clouds hanging just above the skyscrapers in downtown Philadelphia, a field of 165 rolled off the startline at 9 a.m. The race began with three ceremonial parade laps before heading out Kelly Drive along the Schuylkill River for the first of 10 14.4-mile laps out to Manayunk, up the “Wall” and back into town. Each lap included just 429 feet of climbing, 285 up Manayunk and another 175 split between Strawberry Hill and Lemon Hill.

Despite the long day ahead, it took all of half a lap before the race’s first and most serious break rolled off the front. American Danny Pate was among the group that would eventually swell to 30, and with four of Pate’s Health Net teammates also making the initial selection, the top U.S. domestic team found itself on the offensive early.

“We were really happy with the move,” said Health Net’s Chris Wherry, who was able to sit on in the peloton, with Pate, Mike Sayers, Mike Jones, Scott Moninger and Greg Henderson all up the road. “If Postal and CSC had just had another guy or two up there, it could have worked.”

But that was the problem. Mike Creed and Michael Barry were the only Postal riders that had made the cut, while CSC had just one rider, Dane Jimi Madsen, in the move. Rodriguez’s squad also wasn’t well represented, with only Alessandro Donati in the breakaway.

Sayers and the Health Net crew added power to the break

Sayers and the Health Net crew added power to the break

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

That didn’t stop the move from gaining a huge chunk of time, though. With Pate and Sayers doing most of the work up front, and an uninterested peloton coasting along in cruise control behind, the break saw its advantage grow rapidly during the ensuing two laps, cresting near nine minutes.

“I think everyone was a little nervous when it got that high,” said Aussie Henk Vogels (Navigators). “There was one stage where I thought that’s it, but that’s when Postal and CSC went to work.”

With the two Euro’ powerhouse squads working hard at the front during the mid-portion of the race, the gap slowly began to come down. It was five minutes at the end of lap six, and all the way to 1:39 at the beginning of lap 9. That left only two more trips up Manayunk, meaning the remainder of the work had to be completed soon.

That’s just what happened on the ensuing ascent up the Wall. The break was reeled in, with the likes of Sayers and Pate getting shot out the back. Neither would finish the race.

Not all of the initial escapees were cooked, though, and a new move of a dozen riders reformed just as the bunch crested Manayunk. Among the survivors were 10 riders from the first move: Creed, Donati, Madsen, Moninger, Jones, Vassili Davidenko (Navigators), Tim Johnson (Prodir-Saunier Duval), Ernesto Lechuga (Jelly Belly-Aramark), Glen Mitchell and Ben Jaques-Maynes (both Sierra Nevada). The two newcomers were CSC’s Bobby Julich and Angel Gomez (Prodir-Saunier Duval).

“When we caught the big group I went across through the break,” explained Julich. “I felt really strong, but without Rodriguez or Chris Horner in there, you knew that wasn’t going to stick either.”

Instead the race came back together once more during the next trip up Manayunk. That gruppo compacto would be short lived, though, as Horner decided it was his turn to give it a go. With Rodriguez, Postal’s Barry and O’Bee in tow, the Webcor rider put his head down and took his shot on the race’s last full lap.

Horner and Barry

Horner and Barry

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“What else was I gonna do,” he said. “I could sit in and maybe get lucky or I could go for the win. I race to win, so I tried to take destiny into my own hands.”

But the move simply didn’t have the horsepower, with Barry content to sit on and Rodriguez saying he’d pull through but not burry himself. Forty seconds was its biggest advantage, and the break would be all over the end of the last main lap.

That left just three short laps (three miles with only the two slight climbs), all but guaranteeing a bunch sprint finish. Horner would take one last shot on the second-to-last trip up Lemon Hill, but he was quickly brought back before the beginning of the final lap.

That left the endgame in the hands of the sprinters, with Ventoso taking his big win ahead of Bucciero and Fraser.

“I was completely surrounded,” said Fraser, who called the three-race series one of the most frustrating of his career, after finishing second at the CSC Invitational, second in Trenton and third at Philly. “In a week I lost three races by a bike length. In this one I was just caught in the middle watching.”

What he saw was the birth of a new young star and the crowning of a great American champion.

“The jersey was the No. 1 priority,” said Rodriguez, who was greeted by applause when he walked through the doors of the host hotel lobby, following the post race press conference. “Maybe I spent too much time following Horner on the last climb up Manayunk, but I still got what I wanted.”

Full results are posted.To see how today’s race unfolded, simply open our LIVE UPDATE window.

Photo Gallery


Wachovia USPRO Championship
1. Francisco Jose Ventoso Alberdi (Sp), Prodir Saunier Duval 250km in 5:53:13

2. Antonio Bucciero (I), Saeco

3. Gordon Fraser (CAN), Health Net

4. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Acqua & Sapone

5. Plamen Stoyanov (BUL), Hoop CCC-Polsat

6. Alberto Loddo (I), Prodir Saunier Duval

7. Piotr Chmielewski (Pol), Action-ATI

8. Lars Michaelsen (Dk), CSC

9. Kirk O’Bee (USA), Navigators

10. Russell Hamby (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

11. Arkadiusz Wojtas (Pol), Hoop CCC-Polsat

12. Mark Mccormack (USA), Colavita

13. Benjamin Brooks (Aus), Jelly Belly

14. Alex Candelario (USA), Jelly Belly

15. Brice Jones (USA), Health Net

16. Radoslaw Romanik (Pol), Hoop CCC-Polsat

17. Chris Wherry (USA), Health Net

18. Kazimierz Stafiej (Pol), Action-ATI

19. Dennis Kraft (G), Action-ATI

20. Eric Wohlberg (CAN), Sierra Nevada Cycling

21. Erik Saunders (USA), Ofoto

22. Chris Horner (USA), Webcor Builders

23. Antonio Cruz (USA), U.S. Postal

24. Henk Vogels (Aus), Navigators

25. Jonathan Page (USA), Hoop CCC-Polsat

26. Charles Dionne (CAN), Webcor Builders

27. Michael Barry (CAN), U.S. Postal

28. Max Van Heeswijk (Nl), U.S. Postal

29. Damon Kluck (USA), U.S. Postal

30. Brian Sheedy (USA), Seasilver

31. William Frischkorn (USA), Colavita

32. Tim Larkin (USA), Ofoto

33. Steven Cate (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

34. Bobby Julich (USA), CSC

35. Dominique Perras (CAN), Ofoto

36. Ruggero Marzoli (I), Acqua & Sapone

37. Manuele Mori (I), Prodir Saunier Duval

38. Mark Walters (CAN), Navigators

39. Jakob Piil (Dk), CSC

40. Jason Bausch (USA), Ofoto

41. Vikor Rapinski (Blr), Navigators

42. Tristan Hoffman (Nl), CSC

43. Bo Hamburger (Dk), Acqua & Sapone

44. Rinaldo Nocentini (I), Acqua & Sapone

45. Ciaran Power (IRL), Navigators, at 0:07

46. Adam Bergman (USA), Jelly Belly

47. David Mc Kenzie (Aus), Navigators

48. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Prodir Saunier Duval, at 0:11

49. Aaron Olson (USA), Colavita, 0:14

50. Juan Fuentes Angullo (Sp), Saeco

51. Davide Frattini (I), Monex, at 0:28

52. John Lieswyn (USA), Health Net

53. Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus), U.S. Postal

54. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Navigators, at 0:35

55. Jason Mccartney (USA), Health Net, at 0:46

56. Caleb Manion (Aus), Jelly Belly

57. David Loosli (Swi), Saeco

58. Jeff Louder (USA), Navigators, at 1:24

59. Vassili Davidenko (Rus), Navigators, at 5:36

60. James Mattis (USA), Webcor Builders

61. Michael Creed (USA), U.S. Postal

62. Glen Mitchell (NZl), Sierra Nevada Cycling

63. Neil Shirley (USA), Seasilver

64. Jonathan Erdelyi (USA), Ofoto

65. John Hygelund (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

66. Juan Jose Haedo (ARG), Colavita

67. Scottie Weiss (USA), Subway Express

68. Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

69. Cameron Hughes (Aus), Subway Express

70. Imanol Ayestaran Odriozola (Sp), Webcor Builders

71. Doug Ollerenshaw (USA), Jelly Belly

72. Tim Johnson (USA), Prodir Saunier Duval

73. Kyle Gritters (USA), Monex

74. Jaroslaw Zarebski (Pol), Hoop CCC-Polsat

75. Jonathan Patrick Mc Carty (USA), U.S. Postal

76. David Wenger (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

77. Frank Hoj (Dk), CSC

78. Jimmi Madsen (Dk), CSC

79. Peter Knudsen (USA), Seasilver

80. Angel Gomez (Sp), Prodir Saunier Duval

81. Adam Wadecki (Pol), Action-ATI

82. Kirk Albers (USA), Jelly Belly

83. Juan Gomis Lopez (Sp), Prodir Saunier Duval

84. Cesar Grajales Calle (Col), Jittery Joe’s

85. Jesse Lawler (USA), Jittery Joe’s

86. Seweryn Kohut (Pol), Hoop CCC-Polsat

87. Ernesto Lechuga (MEX), Jelly Belly

88. Thad Dulin (USA), Colavita

89. Jacob Erker (CAN), Seasilver

90. Adam Livingston (USA), Seasilver

91. Jackson Stewart (USA), Ofoto

92. Scott Moninger (USA), Health Net

93. Andy Bajadali (USA), Ofoto

94. Michael Jones (USA), Health Net

95. Ivan Dominguez (CUB), Colavita

96. Giosu Bonomi (I), Saeco

97. Gordon Mccauley (NZl), Monex

98. Alessandro Donati (I), Acqua & Sapone

99. Roman Kilun (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling, at 9:00

100. Todd Herriott (USA), Colavita

101. Justin England (USA), Webcor Builders

102. Burke Swindlehurst (USA), Navigators

103. John Kelly (USA), Webcor Builders

104. Jacob Rosenbarger (USA), Jittery Joe’s

105. Michael Kehrberg (USA), Subway Express

106. Matt Dubberley (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

107. Karl Bordine (USA), Monex

108. Steve Larsen (USA), Webcor Builders

109. Benjamin Haldeman (USA), Webcor Builders

110. Michael Lange (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

111. Mike Taylor (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

112. Gustavo Artacho (ARG), Colavita

113. David Richter (USA), Subway Express

Did Not Finish

Emil Abraham (TRI), Monex

Gabriele Balducci (I), Saeco

Colin Beardsley (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

Denis Bertolini (I), Acqua & Sapone

Nieko Biskner (USA), Ofoto

Thomas Bruun Eriksen (Dk), CSC

Jonas Carney (USA), Jelly Belly

Patrick Carro (USA), Monex

Mirko Celestino (I), Saeco

Juan Jose Cobo Acebo (Sp), Prodir Saunier Duval

Nathaniel Cornelius (USA), Subway Express

Tracy Cundiff (USA), Spo

Jamiel Danesh (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

Drew Deters (USA), Seasilver

Patrick Dunaway (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

Paul Ellis (USA), Jelly Belly

Dario Falquier (USA), Webcor Builders

Chris Foster (USA), Subway Express

Christian Foster (USA), Subway Express

Matthew Gilbert (NZl), Monex

Josh Goodwin (USA), Monex

Chad Hartley (USA), Jittery Joe’s

Greg Henderson (NZl), Health Net

Mike Herdman (USA), Monex

Mike House (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Omer Kem (USA), Subway Express

Nicklaus Kiernan (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Trent Klasna (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

Jason Klikna (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

Aleksandra Klimenko (Ukr), Action-ATI

Peter Lopinto (USA), Ofoto

David Mccook (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

Remi Mcmanus (USA), Subway Express

Adam Myerson (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Nathan O’Neill (Aus), Colavita

Danny Pate (USA), Health Net

Lawrence Perera (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Christopher Pic (USA), Jittery Joe’s

Jeremy Powers (USA), Jelly Belly

Matthew Sadauckas (USA), Seasilver

Mike Sayers (USA), Health Net

Aaron Smathers (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Ben Stafford (USA), Webcor Builders

Jonathan Sundt (USA), Jittery Joe’s

Robbie Ventura (USA), U.S. Postal

Devon Vigus (USA), McGuire Pro Cycling

Eugen Wacker (KGZ), Action-ATI

Jason Waddell (USA), Sharper Image-Mathis Bros

Nichole Wangsgard (USA), Bas

Troy White (USA), Sierra Nevada Cycling

Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita

Robert Yost (USA), Subway Express

David Zabriskie (USA), U.S. Postal

Overall series standings
1. Fred Rodriguez, 90 Pts.

2. Max Van Heeswijk, 60 Pts.

3. Lars Michaelsen, 56 Pts.

4. Francisco Jos Ventoso Alberdi, 46 Pts.

5. Gordon Fraser, 45 Pts.

6. Michael Barry, 36 Pts.

7. Benjamin Brooks, 29 Pts.

8. Alberto Loddo, 26 Pts.

9. Ciaran Power, 22 Pts.

10. Bo Hamburger, 20 Pts.

11. Gordon Mccauley, 18 Pts.

12. Jonas Carney, 18 Pts.

13. Antonio Cruz, 16 Pts.

14. Juan Jose Haedo, 14 Pts.

15. Guennadi Mikhailov, 14 Pts.

16. Charles Dionne, 13 Pts.

17. Jakob Piil, 12 Pts.

18. Jaroslaw Zarebski, 12 Pts.

19. Denis Bertolini, 11 Pts.

20. Plamen Stoyanov, 10 Pts.

21. Tristan Hoffman, 10 Pts.

22. Adam Wadecki, 9 Pts.

23. Ivan Dominguez, 8 Pts.

24. Dennis Kraft, 8 Pts.

25. Dan Schmatz, 5 Pts.

26. Kirk O’Bee, 4 Pts.

27. Chad Hartley, 4 Pts.

28. Kazimierz Stafiej, 3 Pts.

29. Brian Sheedy, 3 Pts.

30. Caleb Manion, 2 Pts.

31. John Lieswyn, 1 Pts.

32. Jason Waddell, 1 Pts.