By Jaime Nichols and Locutus
Today's 108.1 mile ride through San Francisco was yet another exciting affair. With fans in the hundreds of thousands lining the roads and
the steep, frustrating climbs, some of the best riders in the world went at it. Former champions George Hincapie (US Postal/Berry Floor) and
Chris Horner (Webcor) came in as favorites, and 2002 winner Charles Dionne was coming to the race after some intense preparation in his
hometown of Quebec. Lance Armstrong was on hand, but only as a cheerleader for his team as a nagging knee injury kept him in his civvies
working the crowd at the startline and on the climb of Fillmore Street.
After the first three short laps of 1.3 miles around the Embarcadero, the riders headed out through the first big lap of 8.8 miles that included
the climbs of Fillmore and Taylor Streets. A Monex rider had a go early in the lap, and by the end of the lap Giuseppe Palumbo (Acqua &
Sapone) was on a solo jaunt and had a 20" gap on the field. On the second big lap the break of the day got started, with seven riders getting a
good lead and working well together.
The group consisted of Doug Ollerenshaw (Jelly Belly Aramark), Danny Pate and Jason McCartney
(Health Net), John Kelly and James Mattis (Webcor), Pavel Padrnos (US Postal/Berry Floor), and Valerio Agnoli (Domina Vacanze). On the
climbs Padrnos, who is not a climber but a power rider, was leading the group over the top. Pate and Ollerenshaw were doing a lot of hammering
in the group as well, and they got a lead of 40" by the 3rd big lap.
On the 3rd big lap, a chase group formed that was driven by John Lieswyn, Mike Sayers, and Mike Jones of Health Net. When they
eventually bridged up to the leaders on the fourth big lap, there were five Health Net riders out of the fifteen or so in the break. Ollerenshaw
and McCartney started vying for mountains points with Agnoli and his teammate Massimo Giunti, and the gap to the field started to grow as a
few riders started to fall back to the peloton.
On the fifth big lap, Ollerenshaw attacked and put Mike Jones and Mike Sayers into difficulty. A
civilian Gord Fraser, who was at the top of the climb watching the race and providing expert commentary, noticed that his teammate Jones was
struggling. Fraser worried that the break hadn't gotten the gap that the team wanted, which at that time was about 1'. In the peloton, the
amazing Viatcheslav "Pensioner" Ekimov and Jose Luis "The Punisher" Rubiera were showing themselves on the climb trying to limit the
damage of the break.
On the sixth big lap, the breakaway started to fragment as the lead over the peloton continued to grow. Tim Johnson (Saunier Duval), who
had no teammates in the break, was caught in noman's land in a valiant attempt to bridge. He had two other men with him, and they closed to
within 15" of the break. However, Health Net must have heard Johnson's mighty footsteps and drilled it on the backside of the course to push
the gap back up. This led to the group continuing to splinter, and finally an attack by McCartney and Ollerenshaw left the rest of the break in
On the ninth and final big lap, McCartney and Ollerenshaw had built a lead of about 4' over the peloton, with the fragments of the
break and the chase littered in between. On that final big lap, McCartney put in another attack to drop Ollerenshaw. As he rolled across the line
to start the first of five laps of five miles (which included the Taylor Street climb), he had 56" on Ollerenshaw, 1' 45" on Padrnos and a few
others, 3' on a group that contained Tim Johnson and John Lieswyn. Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) attacked the peloton solo at this point and
was at 4', while the peloton rolled through with a 4' 30" gap behind McCartney.
With three laps of five miles to go, US Postal and Webcor got serious about chasing as McCartney still had a gap of 4' 06". Defending
champ Horner rode like a monster, taking huge pulls along with Ekimov and Rubiera, which started to close the gap and whittle down the
peloton. USPRO Champion Fred Rodriguez (Acqua e Sapone) was still in the pack, despite a crash that had broken his bike. For some reason
his team did not have his spare bike ready, and Fred had to mount another bike that gave him mechanical trouble for the rest of the race. So
battered, bleeding, and fighting with his steed, Rodriguez soldiered on to hang with the group that contained favorites Hincapie
Horner made the decision to ride himself into the ground chasing, putting his teammate and former winner Dione in the position of protected
rider to go for the win.
With only two laps of five miles left, McCartney looked good to finish off the win as he had a lead of 3' 10" on the field. However, the
Webcor/Postal chase took 1' 40" out his lead on that lap, and with Horner still doing huge pulls, the small peloton pulled to within 30" of
McCartney on the final climb of Taylor Street. That's when Dionne took off like a bat out of hell, putting in an attack that Hincapie and the
others couldn't follow. Dionne caught McCartney on the climb and passed him over the top, pulling away from the spent Health Net rider.
Behind, Rodriguez tried to counter and got a gap over the field in spite of the crash injuries to his back and left leg. A few men bridged up to
Rodriguez, but he gave it full gas to drop them and drive alone towards the finish.
But it was too late: Dionne, who reports that he looked
himself in the mirror this morning, and said "My name is Charles Dionne, and I'm gonna win the T-Mobile International today," had made the
winning move, and crossed the line with his arms in the air to celebrate his 2nd win in this race. A disappointed Rodriguez held on to finish 2nd
8" back, and Hincapie took the field sprint for 3rd at 16". It was an impressive performance by Dionne, a man who is looking to ride in Europe
and is still looking for a contract for next year. For his efforts, McCartney managed to take home the victory in the master of the mountains
Rodriguez's 2nd place gave him the final victory in the 2004 Pro Cycling Tour standings, a great result for the man who will move to the new
manifestation of the Lotto squad for next year.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for a the full remarks from the post-race press conference and a special T-Mobile Ham Report by Locutus
and Crazy Jane.
1 Charles Dionne Can Webcor Cycling Team 4:24:32
2 Fred Rodriguez Usa Acqua & Sapone / Rabobank 8
3 George Hincapie Usa Us Postal Service Presented By Berry Floor 16
4 Ben Brooks Aus Jelly Belly Aramark m.t.
5 Kirk O'Bee Usa Navigators Insurance m.t.
6 Massimilano Mori Ita Domina Vacanze m.t.
7 Uros Murn Slo Phonak Hearing Systems m.t.
8 Massimo Giunti Ita Domina Vacanze m.t.
9 Caleb Manion Aus Jelly Belly Aramark m.t.
10 Johan Tschopp Sui Phonak Hearing Systems m.t.
11 Chris Horner Usa Webcor Cycling Team m.t.
12 Jason Mccartney Usa Health Net Maxxis 20
13 Chris Baldwin Usa Navigators Insurance 23
14 Jose Rubiera Esp Us Postal Service Presented By Berry Floor 59
15 Eric Wohlberg Can Sierra Nevada Cycling 2:01
16 Marco Fertonani Ita Phonak Hearing Systems m.t.
17 Daniel Schnider Sui Phonak Hearing Systems m.t.
18 Viatcheslav Ekimov Rus Us Postal Service Presented By Berry Floor m.t.
19 Jorg Ludewig Ger Saeco / Alessio Bianchi m.t.
20 Dominique Perras Can Ofoto Cycling Team m.t.
21 Aaron Olson Usa Colavita Olive Oil Presented By Bolla Wine m.t.
22 Francesco Failli Ita Domina Vacanze m.t.
23 Jacob Erker Can Team Seasilver m.t.
24 Cameron Hughes Aus SubwayExpress 2:16
25 Levi Leipheimer Usa Acqua & Sapone / Rabobank 2:23
26 Tim Larkin Usa Ofoto Cycling Team 4:17
27 Alberto Rodriguez Oliver Esp Suanier Duval Prodir m.t.
28 David Dela Fuente Esp Suanier Duval Prodir m.t.
29 Brian Sheedy Usa Team Seasilver m.t.
30 Chris Wherry Usa Health Net Maxxis 5:08
31 Ben JacquesMaynes Usa Sierra Nevada Cycling 5:13
32 Andrew Randell Can Jet Fuel Coffee 6:00
33 Arquimedes Lam Mex Canel's Ub Racing 7:01
34 Doug Ollerenshaw Usa Jelly Belly Aramark 8:40
35 Valerio Agnoli Ita Domina Vacanze 8:52
36 Josh Hall Can Jet Fuel Coffee 9:31
Press conference at Niketown.
Precision work going on here...concentrate now!