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Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 5/17/2002
Chuck Coyle's Racing Chronicles

By Chuck Coyle
Team 7UP

I had already started to write about my experiences at the Tour of the Gila in Silver City, NM but I have bailed out on that idea. For one, the race has been finished for over a week and currently my thoughts are more preoccupied on upcoming races. However, I will say that for me the Gila is not only a spectacular race but also it is a great fitness builder of a tour and my 7-Up/Nutra Fig team co-captain John Lieswyn finished in a very respectable 4th place GC. Although the race was not that long ago I have raced since then and am completely focused on some very cool races that take place over the next few weeks.

No matter which pro you talk to just about everything that that are doing now most certainly is geared in some respect towards the First Union Series. This series of races or "Philly Week" as it is more commonly know as which takes place during the first week of June. Philly Week actually occurs all over the North East and there is only one race in Philadelphia; but it is a biggie. Sunday June 9th is the US Pro Road Race Championships, the daddy of all US one-day road races. The race in Philadelphia is a 156-mile adventure that keeps getting faster as the race progresses, the race also includes 10 trips up the infamous Manayunk Wall that is 17% at its steepest!

I was out riding yesterday with Mercury fast man Gord Frasier and a gaggle of other Mercury boys and I asked him if he was doing the Housatonic race this weekend. His reply summed up the mentality of most US Pro road racers. He said, "Yeah I'm doing it, it is the perfect race to prep for Philly."

Philly week starts on Sunday June 2nd with a race in the DC area called the Clarendon Cup. This is a standard 100k crit that is held in Arlington, VA but with more money and heavier hitters than in a normal large US crit. The bigger races start the following week with crits Tues and Thurs followed by the ‘Big Show’ on Sun. Tues is long, challenging 91-mile crit in Lancaster, PA. This is an infamously hard race that every team who is racing Philly will be sure to take part in.

Thurs is a super fast crit, also 91-miles long, in the great garden state of Trenton, NJ. Most seasoned veterans like to do both Trenton and Lancaster in order to open up for the USPRO Road Championships on Sun. The more sane (i.e., yours truly) will only do one of the preceding week's crits and then hope for the best in Philly. Personally, I will be doing the Trenton race on Thurs and will use the rest of the week to hydrate and rest up.

The USPRO Championships in Philadelphia is a very interesting race. Every other country on the planet has their National Championship race on the same day and only racers from that country are allowed to participate. If you win your country’s National Championship race then you are allowed to race that country’s national road championship jersey for the next 12 months (sponsor correct of course with your current teams logo).

The US National Championship is a slightly different story. Not only is it on a completely different day than every other country’s national championship but also racers from different countries are allowed to participate in it. This means that in order to become the US National Champ you do not necessarily have to win the Philly race but you have to be the first American across the line. This makes for some interesting racing, if there is a small group that makes up the winning break the US racers will only be concerned with each other and may let a foreigner sneak away for the win.

What is good about the race is that it gives those of us who do not get to travel over to Europe much a chance to race with some of the best riders in the world on our home turf. I mean how often do you get to line up and duke it out with riders from Mapei, Big Mat and Lotto?

I think that they should keep the tradition of the First Union Series alive and kicking but it should not be for the National Championship. We need to have a different race, for Americans only, that will better determine who the national champion is. It should be Americans –vs- Americans to determine the best in the US. In Philadelphia there is too much relying on other riders and being in a group with the just the right combination of people (and nationalities) to make Philly a true indication of whom the best American is.

I realize that because Philly is such a prestigious race (that is why the Euros come in the first place) that is how we get some of the best US (but European-based riders) to come home to race. If we were racing for the National Championship on a different day it is very likely that European-based riders like Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Freddy Rodriguez and Tyler Hamilton would not be able to make it and let's face it, these are some of the best that the US has to offer.

Thanks For Reading!


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