Golden Hams of the Day
Photos by Jaime Nichols
Ham-Gazers of the Day.
- Team Saturn. These boys worked over the peloton all day long. Eric Wohlberg started it off with an attack on lap 4. Then Chris "Hardman" Horner went on several attacks, including a solo binge for a few laps. Ivan Dominguez was the next to go crazy with the attacking, staying away for several more laps. Finally, Horner and Wohlberg put Rapinski in position to nail down the victory in the final sprint. All in all, this was a major show of force by the golden car salesmen.
- Mike Sayers (Health Net). He was supposed to end up leading out Gord Fraser if everything went according to plan. However, Fraser's crash put him in the position of having to defend his team's honor all by himself. With a great jump and perfect timing, he almost stole the show. After all was said and done, his 2nd place was a great finish for having to go it alone.
- Miguel Meza and Jacob Erker (Schroeder Iron). Erker did some monster pulls to help keep the winning break off the front. His fabulous work kept his sprinter Meza in perfect position to take a spot on the podium. Meza made sure he got into the right move at the right time, and went toe-to-toe with two of the best. All in all, a great day for the Ironmen.
- Jonas Carney (Prime Alliance). Carney went on an early attack to liven up the race, but the big sprinter missed out on the dash for victory at the end. Carney had won by two bikelengths the week before at sprinter-friendly Manhattan Beach, and San Rafael seemed to suit him even better. But the heat, the strange racing, and the unusual success of a big break kept him out of the picture. Carney is in amazing form right now, but today things just didn't go his way.
- Gordon "Goldmember" McCauley (Schroeder Iron). The attack-happy champion of New Zealand with the penchant for talking with a fake Dutch accent was unusually quiet, attacking only a couple of times while trying to set up his sprinting teammate Meza. Since jumping over to the American peloton halfway through the season, McCauley has won more races than you can shake a stick at. He did his job and was a perfect teammate today, as his buddy got 3rd at the end of the day. However, "Goldmember" Gordie is usually a monster in races like this, and it was strange to see him anywhere but flying off the front.
- Malcolm Elliott (Pinarello). In his 2nd race back in the American peloton after a long absence, the veteran sprinting wonder had another good go without any teammates. All day long he kept himself in good position, conserving his energy and staying in the top twenty places in the peloton. If the race had gone according to script and ended in a big bunch finish, Elliott would have had a great chance for another high finish following his 4th place last week in Manhattan Beach. Instead, he had to settle for taking 2nd in the sprint for the lower places when the big bunch rolled through. Still, the way he is riding, it really makes me wonder what he would be capable of if he actually had teammates working for him. Here's hoping that he can land a good spot on a team for next year so that we can continue to see him race in the American peloton.
Crazy Jane's San Rafael Ham-Fest
My dear readers, you have read my ruminations on the delicious-in-any-language members of the European peloton, but my more usual, and dare I say it, more beloved beat is actually our boys in lycra right here in North America. For the past two years, I have been lucky enough to attend a lot of the big US races to observe these excellent creatures in their natural habitat, and have met with a group of people so charming, and so delicious, that it gives me huge pleasure to bring you a small taste of my pleasure with a Ham Report from the US circuit. As I have said many times, professional cycling in America needs to invite the girls to the party, and break up the monotony of cycling nerds and gearheaded boys. There's only one reason why girls are not lining the course at every gathering of the tight pants parade, and that reason is ignorance.
Now, some of my clever friends and acquaintances from the traveling lycra circus will no doubt put two plus two together and will later see me at the races with a new sense of my objectifying gaze, but my faith in them is such that I know that they will take their new knowledge of the specificities of my appreciation for what it is: all in fun. The truth is that the entire American Peloton is delicious. They're nice to look at, but more than that, these boys meet week after week to play out their parts in the drama of American bike racing, and they work and sacrifice and race for most of the year in near total obscurity, for peanuts and the satisfactions of the thing itself. All of them are amazing, dedicated athletes, most of them are delightful people, and if I'm choosing a few today, I'm leaving out hundreds of others who are every bit as worthy. So, with that caveat, let the ham appreciation begin!
- The Saturn Men - Does the Saturn Team choose guys for their good looks? The fashion model promo pics you can see at www.saturncycling.com tell a small part of the story, but ladies, I am telling you, between small but scrumptious, flinty-eyed Eric Wohlberg and his 10,000 sit-ups per day, Chris Horner with that big, infectious grin, fantastic figure and sparkling personality, big handsome Cuban Missile Crisis Ivan Dominguez, Trent Klasna, cycling's answer to the Marlboro Man, and the always charming, best ambassador for the sport imaginable, USPRO Champion Mark McCormack, the Saturn men are delicious, and I've only named 5 of them! These guys rode an incredibly smart race in San Rafael, with Eric Wohlberg and Chris Horner in particular turning in a clinic of tactical smarts and raw power to deliver Viktor "The Belorussian Concussion" Rapinski to the line, and girls, they looked good while they were doing it.
- Health Net's Gord Fraser - Gord didn't win in San Rafael, and as the defending Champ, he was none too pleased to have missed the winning break. A late tangle and crash disrupted any hope of success in the 7-UP/HealthNet led chase and took off some bark, but Gord, if it's any consolation, a few of the ladies were pretty disappointed we didn't get to see any double-pumpin' over the line, and you were as saucy as ever.
- Prime Alliance's Jonas Carney - Jonas is another one who missed a big shot in San Rafael, and he's on good form, despite being a bit laid up with some respiratory symptoms, so it's really too bad he wasn't up in the action. After the race, Jonas commented that there was some "retarded racing" going on out there if a break with that much firepower can go off the front in San Rafael with 10 to go. He was disappointed, but he was also full of personality and charm. Jonas hasn't always been my favorite; before I really got amongst it, I always thought someone needed to let him know that helmet sports and long hair are simply not compatible, but he wins me over every time, and you simply can't argue with a career like his. He is officially the best crit racer in America this year, and that takes skill, explosive speed, aggressiveness, strength and sharp tactical instinct, and he's working all that pretty hard. On top of that, he keeps saying he's an old man, but he looks alright to me!
- Schroeder Iron's Miguel Meza - Readers of my column are no doubt aware of how I like the Latin ones, and I have to include the delightful Senor Meza here. Meza has had some major setbacks this season, and hasn't quite made the mark he hoped this year, but you can bet he'll be back to kick some gringo ass next season. Miguel has seen top ten finishes in Giro d'Italia stages, and to see him unload the speed in his legs is downright amazing when he's on. Plus, the FASHION! Year's in Italy riding for Colpak have given Miguel's hairstyling decisions that certain je ne sais quoi, and that's always entertaining.
- 7-Up/Maxxis' Kevin Monahan & Doug Ziewacz - If there's an American racer who's all hopped-up on charm enhancers, it's definitely Kevin Monahan. The best moment of the US season, before the sheer size and beauty of the T-Mobile International, was Kev's repeat in Downer's Grove this year to take the USPRO Crit title for the second year running. He's never anything but friendly, and no one ever has a bad word to say about this incredibly dedicated racer and teammate, who's been in it for the long haul. It's great to see him get the glory, because then you get lots of chances to enjoy that smile of his. This weekend saw Doug Ziewacz making his last appearance in the pro peloton. He's set for retirement this year. I've been told by an authority on the topic that he was 7-Up's "face man," but what I always enjoyed was the way his hair stuck up out of his visor, and the saucy way he straddles his bike, hip cocked and chest out. He'll certainly be missed.
I really could go on and on, but I have to save some for San Francisco! So I'll leave you with a few pictures from my close associate...
Stay tuned, San Fran Hams on the way!