|The 2003 Saturn Men: Team Profile|
|By Jaime Nichols|
|The 2003 Saturn Men: Team Profile|
|Photos by Jaime Nichols except where noted.
Saturn for 2003. Chris Horner, Trent Klasna, Charles Dionne, Tom Danielson, Eric Wohlberg, Ivan Dominguez... stop it, already!Without a doubt, Team Saturn brings it on with a scary and powerful roster.
On paper, there’s no question that Saturn has assembled the strongest
all-star team in on the US racing circuit for 2003. With riders fit to challenge in
every discipline, and top firepower for any kind of race, the Saturn team
looks for all the world like the team of destiny this season. Still, even
with all that firepower, questions still raise themselves, and foremost
among them is whether or not they will manage to make a team out of so many
Last year, Chris Horner was the unquestioned leader of his Prime Alliance
squad. Charles Dionne showed us all something special in San Francisco, and
this year, Trent Klasna, always aggressive and powerful, will be looking to
prove he still has the guns after a disappointing 2002 season. Throw into to
that mix the prodigious talents of some of Saturn’s young guns and it adds
up to the potential clash of a lot of egos.
What’s going to keep the rampaging wolves of id at bay?
“Professionalism,” says Horner. Klasna vows that “It’s not important if
I’m the one winning, as long as one of us is.” Dionne, though obviously
capable of winning the tough, one day classic races, is looking forward to
the opportunities to sprint to victory, and prefers to keep quiet, letting
his legs do the talking.
Danielson, who rode last year with Mercury says that Mercury rode like a
band of brothers, and adds, “I feel that same chemistry here.”
A big part of the task of molding this crew of stellar talent into a team
falls onto the sturdy shoulders of Saturn’s new Director Sportif, Andrzej
Bek. Asked if he thinks there will trouble aligning the will of the
individual with that of the team, Bek says “That will be the trick, and this
is what we have to do to put everything together and prioritize. It will be
quite a task, and we’ll see when everyone comes under pressure.”
With half the team riding the Tour de Langkawi, including Chris Horner, a
past winner of that race, pressure is coming right up, and Saturn will be
one of the best stories to follow in the coming year.
If the chemistry is right, there will be few races they can’t win.
Director Sportif Andrzej Bek
Andrjez Bek - “How did you become involved in cycling?” I asked
Saturn’s new Director Sportif Andrzej Bek. “It’s a long story,” he told me
with a laugh, “my family’s been in cycling since the beginning of the last
Formerly a world class competitor on the track, Bek was a bronze medalist
in the 1972 Olympics, and again at the World Championships two years later.
Bek has been coaching cyclists in the US for decades, working with the US
National Team and the Coors cycling team. He was named Coach of the Year in
1996 by the US Olympic Committee.
Bek has also worked extensively with the paralympic committee, coaching
athletes with physical disabilites and continues to do so. His committment
to the paralympic games will take him away from the Saturn team for a time
in September of 2004.
Bek has also worked as a sand-blaster in oil tanks in New Jersey, loaded
and driven moving trucks across the country, and worked in an autobody shop
between cycling gigs. He is a father of two grown daughters, and originally
from Poland, he now makes his home in Colorado Springs, CO.
Sitting down to a team meeting next to Phil Zajicek, he asked me how I’d
enjoyed two days with Bek in a slow moving follow car behind the Saturn
team’s epic training rides. “I liked it,” I told him. “I like Andrzej.”
“He’s such a badass,” replied Zajicek.
I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Trent Klasna - A big, powerful, hammer, Trent Klasna got his start on
a bike when he was forced onto it by a suspended license due to a DUI
Kicked out of his father’s house when he was 18 for taking in a stray
dog, Trent’s mother offered him a place in hers if he wanted to come home,
clean up his life, and try his hand at racing a bike, along with his older
brother. At his mother’s house, Trent met Olympic cyclist Bob Mionske, and
his own Olympic dream began.
Klasna dominated the domestic racing scene in 2001, with victories at
Redlands, Sea Otter, the US National Time Trial Championship, and first
place in both the US Pro Cycling Tour and the National Racing Calendar point
series. He is a strong climber, a powerful time trialist, and a relaxed, but
intense team leader. His impulsive, attacking style makes him one of the
most exciting riders to watch on the US circuit.
2002 was a quiet year on the bike for Trent, who struggled with back pain
from an old injury sustained in a run-in with a car years ago; but if it was
a quiet year on the bike, it was anything but on a personal level. In 2002,
he married his wife, Tracy, and the two of them spent the year on the road
in a motorhome, before settling down in a new house in aptly named Cool, CA,
at the end of last season.
A slow year hasn’t taken the shine off the job; Trent loves to race his
bike. He looks forward to a strong season with a great team in 2003.
Chris Horner - Last season, Chris Horner was unstoppable, striking
fear into the US Peloton with back to back wins in Redlands and Sea Otter,
with the Solano Bicycle Classic thrown in for good measure. Riding with a
dedicated and powerful Prime Alliance squad, Horner was a dominating force,
and never felt pushed to the edge of his powers, even while he had all the
competitors on the ropes.
Mid season injuries stopped him from riding away with all the late season
glory in 2002, but all is mended now, and by all accounts, he is ready to
rumble. Supported by a roster including some of the top talent in the US,
Horner is poised to make good on the promise of last year’s victories.
Horner has extensive International experience, and can count overall wins
in the Tour de Lankawi and last year’s NRC points Championship to his
credit. Almost universally liked and respected by his peers, Horner is a G.C.
man, and a time trialist to be reckoned with. An intmidating force when he
is on top form, Chris can’t be underestimated even when he isn’t.
He lives in Bend, OR, with his fiancee, Aisha, and three children.
Bahati joined the Saturn cycling team in 2001, and returns this year for
a second season in the yellow and black.
A strong sprinter who has raced full time since 1998, Bahati is a former
Junior National Road Racing Champion and Criterium Champion, both of which
he won in 2000. The same year, still a junior, Bahati also took the National
Elite Criterium Championship. He has represented the US in ther World
Championships as a Junior and a Senior.
Bahati is a student at Indiana University, where he studies computer
animation, and especially enjoys history classes.
The Saturn team will look to him in the final meters of fast races for
excellent lead-outs and blistering finishing speeds.
Ivan Dominguez - In the 1998 Pan Am Games, Cuban native Ivan Dominguez
won a gold medal, rolled off the track, and was never seen again by his
Cuban National Team. Leaving behind his friends and family in Cuba, he was
discovered a year later in Miami by the Saturn team.
Last year he scored Saturn’s biggest win of the season in the inaugural
running of the NYC Cycling Championships, polishing off the best of the US
peloton with a killer sprint.
Dominguez is a four time Pan Am Games Champion and a current Pan Am
record holder. Training hard this week at camp, Dominguez looked comfortable
on the climbs, and the top brass at Saturn says this will be the year to
test him in some of the biggest races on the US circuit.
Charles Dionne turned a few heads in 2002 with his victory in San
Francisco. Dionne led the chase that brought back defending champion George
Hincapie’s solo move, and then chased nearly every attack that followed,
taking on the likes of Vlatcheslav Ekimov and Lance Armstrong to stay in the
action. After a long day in the saddle, he came to the line with the gas to
relegate 2002 Pro Cycling Tour Champion Henk Vogels to second place.
Dionne’s San Francisco victory was a suprise to some - Lance Armstrong
declared in the post race press conference that he had never even heard of
him - but not to anyone who knew Dionne. His 7-Up teammates all knew that it
was only a matter of time before young Charles made his mark in a big way.
A native of Quebec, Canada, Dionne started racing BMX at the age of 7,
and was on the road by 15. Since 1999, he has dedicated himself to racing
his bike, and has Tour de France aspirations. He brings good all-around
talent and a powerful sprint to the Saturn Team.
Viktor Rapinski - Belarussian rocket Viktor Rapinski makes the jump
from Saturn’s development team to the pro ranks this year. Last year he rode
and won the 4 Bridges of Elgin and the International Cycling Classic’s
overall and five stages wearing development team colors.
Rapinski is a former Junior World Champion on the track points race, has
a strong time trial presence, is able to tough out the climbs, and has
killer finishing speed which will make him a go-to man in the lead-outs and
final kilometers. Only 21 years old, Rapinski handily and regularly beat
sprinters like Australia’s Hilton Clarke on the US pro circuit last year,
and will be a significant threat on this powerful team.
Tom Danielson - Making the transition from the mountain bike to the
road, Tom Danielson began last season as a Cat 3 road racer, and made quick
work of finding a place on what is arguably the strongest professional men’s
team in the US peloton.
A natural talent on the mountains, the pro scene took notice of him last
year when Danielson smashed the Mt. Washington Hill Climb record by over a
minute. He also won the Time Trial in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China, and
continued to show his mettle in the mountains for the remainder of the race.
Just finishing his studies at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Co, the
Connecticut native has enormous, god-given potential which he is in the
process of honing, and also posesses the skinniest ass this reporter has
ever seen (and don’t think for a minute that I haven’t seen some very skinny
ass in my travels).
Danielson is excited about his opportunity to ride for Saturn,
and eager to learn the ways of the road from his experienced teammates, and
by all accounts will be a quick study.
Tim Johnson - Tough climber Tim Johnson has won four National Cyclo-Cross
Championships, one as a Junior, two as an U23, and in 2000, his first Elite
National title. He was a bronze medalist at the cyclo-cross World
Championship in 1999.
Racing full-time since 2001, Johnson continues to improve his game year
after year. Last season, Johnson represented the US at the World
Championship road race in Belgium. Throughout the 2002 season, Johnson
demonstrated his strength on the climbs and dedication to team success.
A reliable and talented support man, Johnson is a valuable asset in stage
|Time Trial Hardmen, and Good Solid Support!
Photo courtesy Tour de Langkawi
O’Neill - Australian hardman Nathan O’Neill has been racing his bike
since 1992. Known for toughness above and beyond the call of duty, he won a
silver medal in the Oceania Time Trial Titles riding on a broken pelvis.
In 1993, O’Neill was forced into a temporary retirement in by health
problems, but came back to win the Australian National Time Trial title. An
Australian Junior Championship gold medalist, and an endurance track rider
in the 4,000 meters pursuit, for which he took a bronze in the 1992 Jounior
World Championships, O’Neill represented Australia in the 2000 Olympics in
Sydney, and took eigth place at the World Time Trial Championships in 2001.
Experienced and tough both physically and mentally, O’Neill is a powerful
time trialist and will provide stalwart all-round support to an already
super strong Saturn squad.
Eric Wohlberg - It’s unanimous! Seven-time and reigning Canadian Time
Trial Champion Eric Wohlberg wins the prize as the handsomest member of the
Saturn Cycling team.
In addition to that, and to his TT title, Wohlberg is a two time Olympian
and a Pan Am Games Champion. At 38 years of age, Wohlberg continues to
improve and is a factor in every race he rides. Quiet and self contained, he
has matured into a tough all-rounder, and is equally at home as a confident leader, or giving everything up in service to the designated captain.
A member of the Saturn squad since 2001, competitors have said that
Wohlberg’s presence on the Saturn team “is like having several more Saturn
teammates in the field.” Wohlberg brings a steady, consistent strength to
the Saturn squad.
Photo courtesy of Saturn Cycling
Will Frishkorn joined the Saturn team in 2001 at the age of 20, and
with an impressive record. He won four National Titles as a Junior, and
capped off a brilliant 2000 season, in which he finished on the podium in
Redlands, the McClane Pacific Road Race and the tour of Williamette by
joining the pro ranks.
In 2002, Frischcorn overcame injury to take the National Espoirs title,
and finished with the leading group in the San Francisco Grand Prix. Not bad
for 21 years old! A strong climber, and good, all around support, Frischkorn
hopes he can be a go-to guy in support of his teammates when the going gets
Mark McCormack has been with the Saturn team for 8 years, and carries
on this year without older brother Frank. He brings the team a maturity,
confidence and professionalism borne out of long experience.
Last season, Mark’s strength and experience was instrumental in
delivering teammate Ivan Dominguez to the line in the New York City Cycling
Championships, and delivering the Saturn team its biggest victory in 2002.
He also won stages in the 2002 Tour if the Gila and Sea Otter Classic.
Phil Zajicek - New to the Saturn team this year is Phil Zakicek, who
joins the yellow and black from Mercury. Along with all that natural charm,
Zajicek brings Time Trial strength and steady support to the team for 2003.
Racing full time since 1998, Zajicek placed third in last year’s Valley
of the Sun race, and is a former Arizona State Time Trial Champion.
He also has rather unusual taste in cycling socks... he swears the socks
With riders and socks like these, what can go wrong?
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