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MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic
By Staff
Date: 2/9/2007
MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic

MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic
Toyota United Pro Cycling Team Coming to Merced

The excitement is growing around the MERCO Credit Union Cycling Classic presented by McLane Pacific as more international teams are registering for the March race in Merced, CA.

The Toyota United Pro Cycling Team, directed by former McLane Pacific Road Race winner Kirk Willett, has confirmed a full team entry for both days of racing at the MERCO

"Toyota United most definitely is proposing the most international of squads to attend MERCO this year" states event director Doug Fluetsch. "Only one of the ten riders who will compete at MERCO for Toyota United is from the U.S. and all have European experience, as well as one having substantial Tour de France/Pro Tour experience."

Toyota/United Roster for the MERCO Credit Union Classic:
Stefano Barberi (Brazil)
Heath Blackgrove (New Zealand)
Ivan Dominquez (Cuba)
Jose-Manuel Garcia (Mexico)
Caleb Manion (Australia)
Mark Scanlon (Ireland)
Ivan Stevic (Serbia)
Sean Sullivan (Australia)
Burke Swindlehurst (USA)
Henk Vogels (Australia)

The rider most fans will have their eyes on will be Aussie Henk Vogels. Vogels is no stranger to racing on the roads of the US, having competed for Mercury and Navigators in the past, but has most recently been participating in the European races such as the Tour de France and the Vuelta Espana. MERCO will mark the return of Vogels to the USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar, and he can be counted on to make his mark in the final outcome of the Merco Classic.

Henk Vogels
Henk is born on 31 July 1973. He became pro in 1995 with Novell. Further he rode for teams as Rabobank, Gan, Credit Agricole, Mercury and Navigators before joining Davitamon/Lotto in 2005. He is the consummate hard man in any classic race.

Henk Vogels  in Philly Navigators  photo c. Pro the movie

Henk is no stranger to fans in the USA where he is a very popular rider and rode in the mighty Mercury team of John Worden.  Henk is the consummate all rounder and hard man with victories on three continents and can count victories in Europe against top class riders including an impressive 2nd in Gent Wevelgem while riding with the Navigators Insurance squad.

Further he won amongst other races the Australian Championships, the USPRO Championships, a stage in the Tour de L’Avenir, a stage in Vuelta a Rioja and a stage in the Vuelta a Asturias. Vogels is a rider who could change the race daily with his attacks and if given the slightest opportunity could take a few stages and possibly challenge for the race lead.

It is obvious that with these riders, team manager Kirk Willett has prepared the team made for hard racing. If the currently calm and warm California weather turns nasty for MERCO, Willett may send his riders to the front to cause the race to split - a tactic often used by Mercury in years past.

"It appears that during the windy and rainy conditions at McLane in years past, the tactic of enforcing a tough pace early in the 124 miles has created the winning formula. It was often the case when Kirk Willett was a rider that Mercury would eliminate any weak riders early, creating a more natural selection. When a team with as many hard riders as Toyota is attending, the tactic may be the same." referenced Fluetsch.

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