February 16, 2003 - Phoenix, Arizona - Schroeder Iron sealed the deal in the 2003 Valley of the Sun stage race in authoritative form today with strong teamwork, and a victory for Miguel Meza in the criterium held in downtown Pheonix, while Aaron Olson held onto the overall.
Going in, the Schroeder Ironmen planned to keep the leader's jersey at all costs by keeping the race together and vigilantly covering all moves, and with that mission accomplished, shoot for a stage victory in the sprint with their star speedster, Miguel Meza.
The 70 minute criterium featured several primes throughout the race to keep the pace high. With plenty of action from fourth placed Peter Mazur and the local team Landis Cycles/Trek/VW, and the presence of some of Saturn's strongest, the Schroeder team was under the gun to defend Olson's jersey. For the first 50 minutes, they concentrated on covering the moves, sweeping up some primes and controlling the race.
With 10 laps to go, the red and black strip was all over the front of the pack, and with five to go, the field sprint was inevitable. Saturn set up to launch their man, Cuban fastman Ivan Dominguez, winner of last year's NYC Cycling Championships, and Schroeder geared up to deliver their contender, Miguel Meza, who has seen top ten results in the Giro d'Italia.
Both teams gave their sprinters monster lead-outs, matching each other in strength and determination. Aaron Olson pulled out of the train with two corners to go, leaving the final stretch to his teammates. With 50 meters from the finish, Meza, Dominguez, and Saturn's Mark McCormack were head to head in an all out charge, with Meza finally unloading his speed to take Dominguez at the line.
Said Meza, "I felt really, really good. I was amazed at how strong I felt. Dominguez is a fast guy, but I felt stronger, and I feel like I'm not on my full form yet. Just coming out of training camp, everyone's a little bit tired, and I feel like I'm at about 80%. I think the whole team is not quite at top form, and we're all still just getting to know each other, but I think this race was perfect; we didn't make any mistakes, and if we're winning now, I think it gives us all a lot of confidence for the future."
With Aaron Olson taking second in the time trial, and then in the circuit race, and Meza capping off the GC victory with the top podium spot in the criterium, it has been a strong weekend for the team.
"It was so cool to win the stage today," said a delighted Olson. "Everyone rode awesome. The whole team is riding so well together. It's going to be a great season."
Valley of the Sun Stage 3 Criterium Results
1 Miguel Meza - Schroeder Iron Pro 1.09.02
2 Ivan Dominguez - Saturn Cycling Team
3 Mark Mccormack - Saturn Cycling Team
4 Chad Hartley - Jittery Joe's
5 Eric Brownell - Honeywell
6 Victor Ayala - Minute Maid-Dasani
7 Roberto Gaggioli - D&R Sportivo/Dol
8 Peter Mazur - Lemond Fitness
9 Rahsaan Bahati - Saturn Cycling
10 Bill Harris - X-Men
11 Frank Pipp - ABD Cycling Club
12 Joshua Carter - Spin City Cycling
13 Bill Short - Trek/Volkswagen/Mi
14 William Innes - Lemond Fitness/Ble
15 Marco Aledia - Lemond Fitness/Ble
1 Aaron Olson - Schroeder Iron Pro 5.09.50
2 Ivan Dominguez - Saturn Cycling Team 0.27
3 Mark Mccormack - Saturn Cycling Team 0.30
4 Peter Mazur - Lemond Fitness 0.56
5 Austin King - Jelly Belly / Carl 1.09
6 Ryan Blickem - NM Velosport 1.16
7 Will Frischkorn - Saturn Cycling Team 1.22
8 Scott Price - Landis/Trek/VW 1.37
9 Joey Dantoni - Cycles de Oro 1.38
10 Chad Hartley - Jittery Joe's 1.39
11 Peter Knudsen - Schroeder Iron Pro 1.46
12 Drew Miller - Landis/Trek/VW 1.48
13 Brian Lemke - Landis/Trek/VW 2.00
14 Bill Harris - X-Men 2.01
15 Hugh Moran - CZ Racing 2.03