Postal took the first bite out of Philly week today when David Clinger rode to victory in the First Union Invitational.
The race started out hard and fast from the gun, with Chris Horner attacking on the first lap. A break of six was quickly established: Saturn's Klasna and Wohlberg, Chris Horner of Prime Alliance, USPS's Dave Zabriskie and Antonio Cruz, and Ofoto's O'Laughlin. The break looked strong and more or less lasted until Klasna sat up in lap 8. "My back was really hurting me today," said Klasna. "I broke it awhile ago, and it's been giving me some trouble."
When Klasna sat up, the break was cooked, and was soon caught by the chasing peloton; only to let a new group of 10 off the front with four laps to go, including Mercury's Chris Wherry, David Clinger and a big contingent of Navigators.
Before the race, Wherry's teammate Henk Vogels had taken him aside and told him "Chris, you've got great form. Take destiny into your own hands today." Wherry took that advice, had good legs, got a gap on the group, and was joined by Clinger. Clinger was surprised the group let them go, but once they were together, Wherry and Clinger both knew that if they drilled it, the race would come down to them. Clinger and Wherry rode an incredible two man time trial, trading pulls and gaining 1'18" on the peloton in just one lap.
Meanwhile, back in the chase group, Tom Leaper of Navigators decided to chase in earnest. "It was a bit of a gamble," he said, "but there were four of my Navigators teammates in the chase group, and somebody had to do something, so I took it on myself to be that person."
Off the front, Wherry was starting to feel his legs, and Clinger got the word from Frankie Andreu in the team car that Wherry was hurting, and that he should attack, so he gave it a shot. Clinger rode Wherry hard and had him begging for mercy on the last climb, eventually riding him off his wheel to come in for a solo victory.
"Everyone wants to win here," says Clinger, "I was riding well, and with some confidence, and the team let me ride my own race today. I'm just happy I could come through for them."
Said Wherry: "This race suits me. It's a really hard race. You can't hide at Lancaster; you either have it or you don't. I knew I had good legs, so I took it to everyone else. Unfortunately, Dave took it me in the last lap. My hat's off to him. He rode a great race."
So ends round one of First Union week!
1. David Clinger - USPS
2. Chris Wherry - Mercury
3. Tom Leaper - Navigators
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