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By JoE Silva
Thousands of people beat the barriers lining downtown Anniston, Alabama, on Saturday as AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork’s Frank Travieso roared across the line to win the Sunny King Criterium.
With several teams having abdicated their top-10 positions (among them Kodak Gallery’s Dominique Rollin and Josh Thornton, Health Net’s Kyle Gritters, and Rock Racing’s Rahssan Bahati), the large crowd witnessed a decidedly revitalized field battling for points in the 2007 USA Crits Southeast series.
Breakaway action came in the form of a quartet that included Yosvany Falcon (AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork), Adam Bergman (Colavita-Sutter Home), Johnny Sundt (Kelly Benefits), and Clayton Barrows (Rite Aid) midway through the 65-lap event.
But the Jittery Joe’s squad, keen on protecting Cody Stevenson’s high points standing, neutralized their effort before it could become a serious threat.
With the laps counting down, Colavita established an early train, only to be shadowed closely by Travieso’s men in blue and white. With three to go, Colavita began to show signs of wear and tear and AEG’s Chris Frederick took charge of his team’s endeavor before handing Travieso off to teammate Keith Norris in the final moments. In the last corner, Travieso knew it was down to him and Rite Aid’s Alejandro Borrajo.
“I was in fourth place at the last corner and Borrajo passed me. So just like I led him out in Beaufort, this time he did it for me. I love this course and I love the uphill sprint. The team said, ‘We need a win, and we’re going to work for you tonight.’ “
The wide-open, essentially rectangular course ensured that there would be no repeat of the finish-line carnage that marred the women’s race Friday in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Midway through the race (55 minutes plus six laps) Cheerwine’s Chrissy Ruiter and Aaron’s Catherine Powers traded primes and pulls in a healthy getaway break.
“We were working really hard,” Powers said later. “But Chrissy stopped working for a couple of laps after the midrace prime because she was directed to and that definitely cut something off our gap.”
With Spartanburg winner Laura Van Gilder chasing the overall points trophy, Cheerwine ignored a last-minute effort by New Zealander Dale Tye (Hub Racing), which scored her several primes for the New Zealander. Then Van Gilder and the rest of the Cheerwine team set up the drag race to the finish, up the small hill out of a very fast turn four.
“I felt that we just needed to be patient.” Van Gilder said before mounting the podium for the second day in a row. “I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my team to immediately bring her back. All the teams were really animated. Aaron’s and Cheerwine were both really duking it out for the lead-out and we were both able to capitalize off each other’s effort.”
Sunny King Criterium
1. Frank Travieso, AEG-Toshiba-JetNetwork, 1:37:02.0
2. Alejandro Borrajo, Rite Aid, 1:37:02.1
3. Luca Damiani, Colavita-Sutter Home, 1:37:02.3
4. Martin Gilbert, Kelly Benefit, 1:37:02.5
5. Mark Hekman, Abercrombie & Fitch, 1:37:02.6
1. Laura Van Gilder, Cheerwine, 1:05:01.4
2. Tina Pic, Colavita-Sutter Home, 1:05:01.6
3. Sarah Caravella, Aaron’s, 1:05:02.2
4. Catherine Cheatley, Cheerwine, 1:05:02.2
5. Holli Steelman, Juice Plus, 1:05:02.8