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By Steve Frothingham
On the eve of the USPRO Road Race Championships, Garmin-Chipotle showed it intended to dominate the championship weekend in Greenville, South Carolina, taking four of the top five spots in the time trial, led by David Zabriskie.
Only Bissell’s Tom Zirbel kept Garmin from taking the entire podium and then some, with a brilliant second place ride, coming in five seconds behind a clean-shaven Zabriskie, who captured his third straight USPRO time trial jersey.
Zabriskie said he entered the race “full of confidence.” The Salt Lake City rider missed much of the season after injuring his neck in a crash at the Giro d’Italia. He returned to top level racing at the Olympics, where he was 12th in the time trial.
Race of the Z’s
In an exciting finish to the three-lap, 20.7-mile event, Zabriskie and Zirbel entered the final lap separated by only three seconds. Garmin’s Christian Vande Velde, after a mediocre first lap, matched Zirbel’s pace on the second go-around and started his last loop 13 seconds behind him.
Zirbel heard the split over his radio and kept the pressure on, using his big frame to build momentum on the downhills and powering up the many short climbs,
“I felt great,” he said. “I was just trying to hold back my vomit, basically, just feathering that level.”
“It came down to who was going to be the toughest on the third lap. I knew it was going to be close. I just didn’t have it.”
On the technical, up-and-down course, Zirbel said he was grabbing a few seconds of rest each time he coasted through a corner. “It was one nice thing about the course,” he said.
Zabriskie said he was unaware that Zirbel was just three seconds behind on the last lap
“It was the kind of course where you have to be extremely aggressive, punch it on the hills and not let up,” Zabriskie said. “I didn’t rest at all on the course. Maybe a tiny bit on one of the bigger downhills,” he said.
Vande Velde did a screaming fast last lap, closing Zirbel’s lead to less than five seconds at the finish.
But the Tour star said he was “not content” with his third-place finish. “One-day time trials are really not my thing,” he said, adding that he expects to feel much better for Sunday’s road race.
- Only 34 riders started the time trial, with many riders choosing to save themselves for Sunday’s road race. Among the top riders to skip the TT: George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton, Danny Pate, Will Frischkorn and Ben Jacques-Maynes.
- It was the first race for Garmin-Chipotle’s Tim Duggan since his serious crash on stage 3 of the Tour de Georgia. Duggan, who finished 13th, 2:39 behind Zabriskie, said the result gave him the confidence to continue training for a full comeback to the sport.
“It took away a lot of questions. All I’ve had in my head for the last few months is a bunch of questions,” he said. Duggan will not compete in Sunday’s road race.
“One thing I can’t do is crash and land on my head for a while,” he said.
- With 13 riders — many with top level European experience — expected to start Sunday’s road race, Garmin-Chipotle looks set to dominate the weekend, and other teams are considering every opportunity to play off of their strength. (Start list)
Columbia’s George Hincapie, who has just one teammate for Sunday, is still the favorite for many.
“It’s (Garmin’s) race to lose and Hincapie’s race to win,” said Health Net – Maxxis director Mike Tamayo. NRC-leading Health Net, even without its star Rory Sutherland (who is Australian), has 10 strong riders in the race. Tamayo was coy about his own team’s strategy. “We have a lot of good riders; I’m not going to say we are all working for one guy, one Hincapie,” he said.
- Tom Danielson rode with a bag of ice on his back under his skinsuit, as Garmin-Chipotle riders have been doing for much of the year. The ice, which melted by the start of his last lap, was a pleasant performance enhancer on a warm and humid day.
However, officials at the start questioned whether the hump was an aerodynamic, as well as thermodynamic, advantage, and Garmin director Jonathan Vaughters moved it lower on Danielson’s back before the start. Later-starting team riders, including race winner Zabriskie, did not use the ice.
1. David Zabriskie (Garmin-Chipotle), 40:39
2. Tom Zirbel (Bissell Pro Cycling), at 0:05
3. Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Chipotle), at 0:10
4. Steven Cozza (Garmin-Chipotle), at 0:34
5. Tom Danielson (Garmin-Chipotle), at 0:52
6. Michael Creed (Rock Racing), at 1:27
Lap splits and final time for the top 6:
|Rider||Lap 1||Lap 2 elapsed||Final|
1. David Zabriskie, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in 40:39
2. Tom Zirbel, Bissell Pro Cycling Team in 40:44
3. Christian Vandevelde, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in 40:49 at 10
4. Steven Cozza, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in 41:13 at 34
5. Thomas Danielson, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in 41:31 at 52
6. Michael Creed, Rock Racing in 42:06 at 1:27
7. Roman Kilun, Team Health Net P/b Maxxis in 42:33 at 1:54
8. Bernard Van Ulden, Jelly Belly in 42:58 at 2:19
9. Scott Zwizanski, Bissell Pro Cycling Team in 42:58 at 2:19
10. Justin Spinelli, Kelly Benefit Strategies/medifast in 42:59 at 2:20
11. John Murphy, Team Health Net P/b Maxxis in 43:01 at 2:22
12. Michael Norton, Calyon Pro Cycling Team in 43:10 at 2:31
13. Timothy Duggan, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in 43:18 at 2:39
14. Graham Howard, Bissell Pro Cycling Team in 43:21 at 2:42
15. Jonathan Mumford, Kelly Benefit Strategies/medifast in 43:24 at 2:45
16. Philip Zajicek, Team Health Net P/b Maxxis in 43:36 at 2:57
17. Bradley Huff Charles, Jelly Belly in 43:40 at 3:01
18. Nick Frey, Time Pro Cycling in 43:50 at 3:11
19. Micheal Grabinger, Successful Living P/b Parkpre in 43:55 at 3:16
20. Robert Sweeting, Toshiba/santo P/b Herbalife in 43:57 at 3:18
21. Daniel Ramsey, Time Pro Cycling in 44:00 at 3:21
22. Matthew Crane, Team Health Net P/b Maxxis in .44:14 at 3:35
23. Garrett Peltonen, Bissell Pro Cycling Team in .44:17 at 3:38
24. Corney Collier, Team Health Net P/b Maxxis in .44:17 at 3:38
25. Thad Dulin, Dlp Racing in .44:31 at 3:52
26. Benjamin Kneller, Jittery Joe’s Pro Cycling Team in .44:33 at 3:54
27. Thomas Peterson, Garmin/chipotle P/b H3o in .44:46 at 4:07
28. Spencer Beamer, Dlp Racing in .45:19 at 4:40
29. Charles Eldridge, Team Type 1 in 45:48 at 5:09
30. Eric Bennett, Successful Living P/b Parkpre in 46:20 at 5:41
31. Sergio Hernandez, Rock Racing in 47:07 at 6:28
32. Andy Baker, Time Pro Cycling in 50:02 at 9:23