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Wachovia Cycling Series: The 2003 US PRO
By Jaime Nichols
Date: 6/2/2003
Wachovia Cycling Series: The 2003 US PRO

The Wachovia 2003 US Pro Championships, Philadelphia
Photos by Jamie Nichols

"Philly Week" culminates in what is arguably the most important race in the US calendar. Now in its 19th year, the Wachovia US Pro Championship is the longest-running and richest single day events in the country, and one of the richest in the world. It's also a yearly party in the streets of Philadelphia, a summer celebration that regularly draws over half a million spectators, and is part of the life of the city so that even those Philadephians who don't follow our beloved sport know the stars of the race like no where else in the country.

First run in 1985, and won by Olympic speed-skating gold medalist, Eric Heiden, the US Pro Championship is the flagship of Threshold Sports' Pro Cycling Tour. It covers 156 miles in 13 laps on a 14.4mile course beginning and ending at Benjamin Franklin Parkway, in front of the steps leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art - immortalized in celluloid by Rocky's triumphal training sequence in the Sylvester Stallone penned film of the same name. From there, it heads north along the Schuylkill River, through the residential neighborhood of Manayunk before heading back over Lemon Hill, and the finish line.

The course features 10 attacks on the infamous "Manayunk Wall," a short, steep slog that wears the pack down and makes the selections that decides the race in the end. With over six hours of racing, the other main difficulty is the sheer distance, which US pros, who traditionally ride short, fast criteriums and circuit races, are particularly challenged by.

The consistent contenders of this race have historically been Classics-style hardmen: George Hincapie, Fred Rodriguez, Jakob Piil, Henk Vogels and Lance Armstrong are all former winners of the event. Winning in Philadelphia takes raw strength, endurance, a well-executed plan, a strong team, patience, and good luck.

In addition to all that, the race essentially offers two prizes. The overall victory, which brings with is a prize payoff of 40K, and the right to wear the Stars and Stripes jersey for a year, which is awarded to the first American over the line, who becomes the US Pro Champion. The mix of American riders in contention for the jersey and foreign riders out for race victory often results in some interesting jockeying for position and creates a race within the race. The winners of both 2002 prizes take the start this year: Mark Walters and Chann McRae rode to glory behind a locomotive-like performance from Danny Pate in a three-up sprint for the line.

Walters and McRae will have their hands full trying to repeat. It's a powerhouse field this time around. Former race winners toeing the line include Jakob Piil, Henk Vogels and Fast Freddy Rodriguez. Freddy lost his title last year to a lingering bout of bronchitis, and he'll want it back this time around. A strong all day rider with a better sprint than most who will manage to hang in all day, this will be a good one for him; and with stiff competition in the field from the likes of Chris Horner, who's broken foot kept him from riding to his potential in the US Pro last year, Fast Freddy may be less marked than he has been in previous runnings.

The Navigators field a good crew here this year, and 7-Up's tenacious John "J-Lo" Lieswyn would make a fine US Pro Champion, and should be in the action as well; but I'd look for Prime Alliance's David Clinger here. Chris Horner called Clinger the "strongest man in the race last year," and judging from Clinger's performances this season, he looks poised to let US Postal know what they're missing now that they've cut him loose.

Speaking of US Postal, with longtime staple of the US Pro contest and former Champion here, George Hincapie, off in Spain honing his form for the tour after a long illness, it will be interesting to see who they put up for the victory. Canadian Michael Barry rode like a stud here last year, and Max Von Heeswik has been strong all year. As for American contenders, Dave Zabriskie was scheduled to ride, but after a tangle with a car left him with multiple broken bones, it may be up to Antonio Cruz, who just keeps getting stronger, to step up to the plate, or perhaps Christian Vande Velde, if he's recovered from recent injuries sufficiently to ride hard in Philly.

Ok, so those are the Americans. This years's race also features full squads from CSC, Saeco, Vini Caldirola, Flanders IteamNova, and Mroz and names like Igor Astarloa, the aforementioned Max Von Heeswik, Jakob Piil, Massimilliano Mori, Eddy Mazzoleni, Julian Dean and (good heavens!) Andrea Tafi.

Hold onto your hats, race fans!

Past US Pro Championship Race Winners

2002 Mark Walters - Navigators (CAN)
2001 Freddy Rodriguez - Domo-Farm Frites (USA)
2000 Henk Vogels - Mercury (AUS)
1999 Jakob Piil - Acceptcard (DEN)
1998 George Hincapie - US Postal Service (USA)
1997 Massimiliano Lelli - Saeco-Cannondale (ITA)
1996 Eddy Gragus - US Postal Service (USA)
1995 Norm Alvis - Saturn (USA)
1994 Sean Yates - Motorola (UK)
1993 Lance Armstrong - Motorola (USA)
1992 Bart Bowen - Subaru-Montgomery (USA)
1991 Michel Zanoli - Tulip (HOL)
1990 Paolo Cimini - Gis-Benotto (ITA)
1989 Greg Ovaretz - Coors Light-ADR (USA)
1988 Roberto Gaggioli - Pepsi-Fanini (ITA)
1987 Tom Schuler - 7-Eleven (USA)
1986 Thomas Prehn - Schwinn-Icy Hot (USA)
1985 Eric Heiden - 7-Eleven (USA)

2002's podium boys: McRae, Walters & Pate

Past US Pro Champion Jersey Winners

2002 Chann McRae - US Postal Service
2001 Freddy Rodriguez - Domo-Farm Frites
2000 Freddy Rodriguez - Domo-Farm Frites
1999 Marty Jemison - US Postal Service
1998 George Hincapie - US Postal Service
1997 Bart Bowen - Saturn
1996 Eddy Gragus - US Postal Service
1995 Norm Alvis - Saturn
1994 Steve Hegg - Chevrolet-LA Sheriff
1993 Lance Armstrong - Motorola
1992 Bart Bowen - Subaru-Montgomery
1991 Davis Phinney - Coors Light
1990 Kurt Stockton - American Commerce Nat. Bank
1989 Greg Ovaretz - Coors Light-ADR
1988 Ron Kiefel - 7-Eleven
1987 Tom Schuler - 7-Eleven
1986 Thomas Prehn - Schwinn-Icy Hot
1985 Eric Heiden - 7-Eleven

Chann& Henna McRae celebrate the jersey in 2002

2002 US Pro Championship Coverage

US Pro Championship - Favorites Fade in Upset Victory!
2002 US Pro Championship Live Ticker
2002 Full Official Results

US Pro Startlist as of 5/20/2003

1 Mark Walters, CAN
2 Henk Vogels, AUS
3 Chris Baldwin, USA
4 Siro Camponogara, ITA
5 Vassili Davidenko, RUS
6 Oleg Grishkine, RUS
7 Jeff Louder, USA
8 Ciaran Power, IRL
9 Chris Wherry, USA
D.S. E. Beamon/R. Cipolini

11 Chris Horner, USA
12 Tom Danielson, USA
13 Charles Dionne, CAN
14 Will Frischkorn, USA
15 Tim Johnson, USA
16 Nathan O'Neill, NZL
17 Trent Klasna, USA
18 Eric Wohberg, CAN
19 Phil Zajicek, USA
D.S. A.Bek

21 Fred Rodriguez, USA
22 Pietro Zucconi, SUI
23 Patrick Calcagni, SUI
24 Marco Gilli, iTA
25 Eddy Mazzoleni, ITA
26 Andrea Masciarelli, ITA
27 Simone Masciarelli, ITA
D.S. V. Algeri/ M. Gianetti

31 Jakob Piil, Denmark
32 Geert Van Bondt, BEL
33 Julian Dean, NZL
34 Thomas Brunn Eriksen, DEN
35 Tristan Hoffman, NED
36 Jimmi Madsen, DEN
37 Lars Michaelsen, DEN
38 Andrea Tafi, ITA
D.S. B. Rijs/J. Weltz

41 Massimiliano Mori, ITA
42 Matteo Cappe, ITA
43 Domenico Gualdi, ITA
44 Massimo Amichetti, ITA
45 Vros Murn, SLO
46 Antoni Rizzi, ITA
47 Moreno DiBiase,ITA
D.S. R. Magrini

51 David McKenzie, AUS
52 Bjorn Cornelissen, NED
53 Jamie Drew, AUS
54 Scott Guyton, NZL
55 Allan Iacuone, AUS
56 Dominique Perras, CAN
57 Bert Scheirlinckx, BEL
58 Staf Scheirlinckx, BEL
59 Trent Wilson, AUS
D.S. F.VanHaesbroucke

61 Igor Astorloa. ESP
62 Juan Fuentes, ESP
63 Antonio Bucciero, ITA
64 Alessio Galletti, ITA
65 Christian Pepoli, ITA
66 Alessando Spezialetti, ITA
67 Andrea Tonti, ITA
68 Stefano Zanini, ITA
69 TBD
D.S. B. Vicino

71 John Lieswyn, USA
72 Godfrey Hayden, NZL
73 Brice Jones, USA
74 Jason McCartney, USA
75 Kevin Monahan, USA
76 Chris Pic, USA
77 Oscar Pineda, GUA
78 Doug Ziewacz, USA
79 Greg Henderson, NZL
D.S. J. Corbett

81 Michael Barry, CAN
82 Antonio Cruz, USA
83 Steffen Kjaergaard, NOR
84 Damon Kluck, USA
85 Kenny Labbe, USA
86 Max Van Heeswijk, BEL
87 Robbie Ventura, USA
88 Matt White, AUS
D.S. L. LaPage

91 Jonathan Vaughters, USA
92 Alex Candelario, USA
93 David Clinger, USA
94 John Peters, USA
95 Svein Tuft, CAN
96 Jonathan Page, USA
97 Danny Pate, USA
99 Matt DeCanio, USA
100 Michael Creed, USA
D.S. K. Willett

101 Ben Brooks, AUS
102 Brent Dawson, AUS
103 Krik Albers, USA
104 Remi McManus, USA
105 Mark Fitzgerald, USA
106 Chris Fisher, USA
107 Brian Forbes, USA
108 Mariano Freidick, USA
109 William Steinbrecher, USA
D.S. D.VanHaute

111 Erik Saunders, USA
112 Tim Larkin, USA
113 Andrew Bajadali, USA
114 Peter Roman, USA
115 Russell Hamby, USA
116 David O' Laughlin, IRL
117 Saul Raisin, USA
118 Jackson Stewart, USA
D.S. R. Zellner

121 Jeff Hopkins, AUS
122 Cesar Calle Grajales, COL
123 Jesse Lawler, USA
124 Jonny Sundt, USA
125 Chad Hartley, USA
126 Jake Rosenberger, USA
D.S. M. Rice

131 Nieko Biskner, USA
132 Matt Dubberley, USA
133 Andy Jacques Maynes, USA
134 Ben Jacques Maynes, USA
135 Jason Klikna, USA
136 Troy White, USA
137 Todd Littlehales, USA
138 Daniel Ramsey, USA
139 Sterling Magnell
D.S. M. Neel

141 Chann McRae, USA
142 Jason Bausch, USA
143 Jacob Erker, CAN
144 Cameron Hughes, AUS
145 Peter Knudsen, USA
146 Adam Livingston, USA
147 Aaron Olson, USA
149 Mike Tillman, USA
D.S. F. Andreu

151 Cezary Zemana, POL
152 Zbigniew Piatek, POL
153 Aleksander Klimienko, POL
154 Marcin Lewandowski, POL
155 Kazimierz Stafiej, POL
156 Adam Wadecki, POL
157 Bartosz Huzarski, POL
D.S. P. Kosmala

161 Steve Larsen, USA
162 Ted Huang, USA
163 James Mattis, USA
164 Lionel Syne, BEL
165 Jeff Auermann, USA
166 Dario Falquier, USA
167 John Kelly, USA
168 Dave Wyndt, USA
169 Ben Stafford, USA
D.S. F. Scioscia

171 John Hamblen, USA
172 Scottie Weiss, Usa
173 Jacob Fetty, Usa
174 Michael Jones, Usa
175 Wesley Seigler, USA
176 Benjamin Sharp, USA
177 Conor Hurley, USA
178 David Wegner, USA
179 Patrick O' Donnell, USA
D.S. G. Cook

181 Matt Hawkins, USA
182 Eneas Fryre, USA
183 Marco Aledia, USA
184 Bill Innes, USA
185 Andrew Crater,USA
186 Joe Chapman, NZL
187 Leigh Palmer, AUS
188 Adrian Laidler, AUS
189 Nic Brown, AUS
D.S. J. Holmes

191 Larry Perera, USA
192 Adam Hodges Myerson, USA
193 Josh Beck, USA
194 Ryan Dewald, Usa
195 Matthew Svatek, USA
196 Nathan Rouse, USA
197 Simon Kessler, RSA
198 Ross Krause, USA
199 Guillaume Nelessen, USA
D.S. W. Laudien

201 Gustavo Artacho, ARG
202 Gregory Wolf, USA
203 Michael Luther, USA
204 Shawn Willard, USA
205 Roger Rillinng, USA
206 Karl Bordine, USA
207 Tyler Wren, USA
208 Nathan Russell, AUS
209 Juan Jose Haedo, ARG
D.S. J. Profaci

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