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Saturday, May 27, 2000 -- Webster Springs, WV
Woodchopper Classic
Story by Matt Marcus and Don Parks with photos by Dave McKain and Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage] [2000 Results] [Pic Set 1] [Pic Set 2]
[1999 Coverage] [1998 Coverage]

Thomas Samples
Even a flat tire can't keep Thomas Samples out of the gold
If you only do one road race a year this should be the one. The early Saturday start allowed bike racers to attend both the road and mountain events held in conjunction with the Woodchopping Festival held in Webster Springs.

The Cat 1-4 course (44 Miles) is an out and back on the lightly traveled Route 15 and begins with a seven-mile climb up Point Mountain with about 1800 feet of elevation gain. Once on top the road relentlessly rolls for another fifteen miles before the turnaround. Then it's fifteen rolling miles back to the hairball seven-mile descent to the finish

The initial climb usually breaks up the field and this year was no exception. The five riders leading the race over the top included two Go Mart riders Steve Lochow and Thomas Samples, WVU team rider Derek Clark, West Virginia Outside's Sue Haywood and junior sensation Nick Waite.

The chasing group included Billy Joe Peyton, Todd Diehl and another junior in his first road event, fourteen year old Rocco Mazzei. Nate Furgeson got a late start and soloed to a respectable finish.

Nick Waite
Nick Waite in the big ring coming down Point Mountain
The lead pack tested each other on the rolling terrain, which was like an interval session with short bursts up, then recovery on the downs with speeds in excess of 50 mph. After the turnaround all five riders were still together when Clark momentarily lost contact. Although he valiantly powered to regain the pack he lost time on the downhills with no one to draft and finally fell back.

Go Mart's Lochow then made his move charging ahead holding a slight gap while teammate Samples monitored Haywood and Waite. Haywood finally faded, then on a short steep Waite and Samples caught and passed Lochow who had a flat shortly thereafter. With about a mile left before the descent Waite and Samples traded attacks and crested the final climb to the microwave tower together.

Experience paid off for Samples as he aggressively blew down the hairpins to the finish in 2:03:52 leaving Waite in his wake even though the Go Mart rider suffered a rear flat tire. Haywood passed Lochow repairing his front flat for third place. Clark caught Lochow also, but the Go Mart rider was quick repairing his wheel and caught Clark to salvage fourth place.

In the only Cat 1-4 sprint finish Diehl took Mazzei and Peyton for sixth, seventh and eighth respectively.

Citizen Race
The Cat5/Citizen train can't be derailed
The short course (18 Miles) for the Cat 5/Citizens race turned off Route 15 halfway up Point Mountain. From there it was a race down the hillside on Route 26 and into the town of Bergoo for the turnaround.

Again, Point Mountain was expected to break up the field quickly. Brothers Andy Cipriani and John Cipriani had a plan at the start of the race to attack off the front on this first climb. But, it seemed nothing could break apart what Andy termed "the peleton that couldn't be broken."

By the turnoff on to Route 26 the field was still seven strong as the descent toward Bergoo began. With racer/cameraman Don Parks continually attacking off the front, the pack always reacted by gradually reeling in the solo rider. With no one able to get away cleanly, the finish came down to a mass sprint for the finish.

With Keith Cipriani (yes, another memeber of the Cipriani Brothers Racing Team) tangling with brother John, the two dropped off as Andy stole the show for a first place finish in 50:02. Touching the line second was Terry Jones with Keith Lilly, making his annual trip to the Woodchopper Classic from Cookeville, Tennessee, grabbing third.