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Wednesday, May 3, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
2000 ACA Summer Criterium Series
Story by Joe Papp

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1]
For more information on cycling in Southwest PA, check with the Allegheny Cycling Association.

C Racer
Girls (and everyone else) just wanna have fun on the Oval
When Joe Papp (PCC) sprinted across the line ahead of his five breakaway companions tonight, the casual observer might have recorded it as just another victory in just another training race for the 24 year-old Category 1. For Papp, however, who recently graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, the win brought him one step closer to recovery from a devastating accident in March. A hit-and-run driver struck the criterium-sprinter-turned-roadie while he was out training, leaving him with a broken left hand and massive soft-tissue damage, just as he was beginning his build-up to the Olympic Trials. Though by no means completely healed, Papp was nonetheless pleased to be able to bring to bear the full force of his sprint. What remains to be seen, however, is whether his hand will tolerate 140 miles of racing against the country's best professional and amateur riders.

Tonight's race was a sprint by comparison, with 31 riders taking the line in the 50 lap, 25 mile A race. The fireworks started early, when Papp and George Yoder (Team Freddie Fu) teased the field into action by attacking only three laps into the race. They never gained more than 10 seconds, however, and were soon brought back into the fold. No other serious breaks emerged during the next 20 laps, as teams were content to let their strongest riders battle for Most Aggressive Rider points, awarded to first rider across the line each lap. One notable exception was Josh Beck, an up-and-coming rider from Slippery Rock University. Riding without the assistance of teammates, Beck attacked repeatedly, though uncooperative riders covered him each time. It was not until Mike Friedman (PCC) brought the pace up to 60 km/h on lap 26 that the field began to splinter.

A Race
Jeff Timinski leads the A field in pursuit of a break
After Friedman's surge, six riders found themselves with a small but manageable gap: Beck, Kyle Dixon and John Evanko (Schwinn), Friedman's teammate Papp, Kevin Westover (East Suburban Sports Med.), and Jason Zimmerman (Greensberg Cycling). The sextet worked together for the remainder of the race, though Papp constantly attacked the break (much to his companions' dismay) in search of MAR points. At the finish, it was Papp ahead of Evanko and Westover, Zimmerman, Dixon and Beck, with George Yoder winning the field sprint for seventh ahead of Friedman.

The B race was also fast from the gun, due in large part to the efforts of the Brooklyn team. Wearing replica jerseys of the powerhouse European squad once led by Roger DeVlamick, the Brooklyn riders went straight to the head of the bunch and began rotating as if in pursuit of Merckx himself. This show of force lasted for several laps before they eased off and turned over the reigns to riders from PMVC and East Suburban. However, there was a dearth of attacking for most of the event, as riders instead surged at the front to increase the pace without ever breaking clear of the field.

Sprint Finish
Charlie Chulack sprints to another C Race victory
Not surprisingly, the race came down to a field sprint won by Ryan Mele (Volpatti's). While the cagey youngster spent most of the race in the top five, he rarely ventured up the road on his own. Nevertheless, we expect great things from Mele once he becomes comfortable with the idea of attacking rather than waiting to sprint at the end. Perhaps the most exciting moment in the event came when Josh Shaffer stormed away for a mid-race prime.

If the B's were short on attacks, then the C race was down right predictable. For the fourth week in a row, the Pittsburgh Cycling Club's Charlie Chulack won the 18-lap event, this time by outsprinting Michael Walewski and Mike Rytel (East Suburban Sports Med.). Chulack also claimed the race's only prime. The burly sprinter's dominance of the C race is now a stranglehold that may only be loosened when he upgrades from category five to four and moves on to the B race. Perhaps his ascension will inspire the other B's to adopt a similarly bold approach to their racing, though only time will tell.