It would have been hard to miss the colourful blur of well-toned athletes lapping the downtown area of Merced, California this past weekend, as organizers, sponsors, volunteers, plus over 1500 participants made Merced's 12th Annual McLane Pacific Cycling Classic a success. The McLane Pacific Cycling Classic was the first NRC (National Racing Calendar) event of the year, positioning an international representation of teams and individuals to gauge their strengths for the professional season.
Over one hundred and fifty pros came, including former two-time Olympian and two-time Tour de France rider Gord Fraser, who earned the top honour at the Downtown Grand Prix for a record fourth year in a row. The acclaimed sprinter and his Health Net teammates strategically broke from the Colavita-Sutter Home team's dominance in the last three laps of the 50 lap race. J.J. Haedo and Sebastian Alexandre of Colavita finished second and third.
J.J. Haedo had his day at Sunday's Foothills Road Race. He would wrestle the top spot from last year's champion, Gord Fraser. Lacking inclement weather elements, the full field of 154 riders jockeyed for most of the 124 mile race before Haedo and Fraser crossed the finish within a bike length of each other.
Ina-Yoko Teutenberg of T-Mobile triumphed in both women's Elite 1/2/Pro races, the Downtown criterium and the Foothills Road Race. Laura Van Gilder of Quark and Gina Grain of Victory Brewing finished second and third consecutively in the crit. Quark took another second place podium finish in the road race thanks to Sarah Uhl, and Michelle Beltran claimed third place.
The 2nd Annual Foothill Century Ride was organized by John Field, and designed to be a fun, non competitive ride as well as a fundraiser. The Pee Wee Classic returned for its second year as well. Organizer John White enabled nearly 200 children ages 3-7 to feel like pros for the day in their own racing events downtown.