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Hilton Clarke winning
Just a day after hearing that Toyota-United would not be renewing its sponsorship beyond this year,...
Just a day after hearing that Toyota-United would not be renewing its sponsorship beyond this year, the American team won both events on offer in the USA. Henk Vogels took the fourth stage of the Tour of Gila, while team-mate Hilton Clarke took his third win from three events, taking the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston. The following day Caleb Manion won NRC event, the Nalley Historic Roswell Criterium, taking the teams tally to 25 wins so far this season.
Team Captain Vogels set the tone for the weekend's action by storming to victory in Saturday nights 43 mile Gila Criterium. The team dominated the NRC event, first sending Heath Blackgrove up the road in a six man break before setting up Vogels for the sprint.
"All credit to the boys today, especially Blackgrove, Wherry and Clarke," Vogels said. "My role is normally to lead out Dominguez or one of the other sprinters, but today I wanted to show the boys by example that we are the best team and despite the news we received yesterday, we need to keep winning and go get a new sponsor for 2009."
Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Clarke began his hat trick with back to back wins in South Carolina at Tuesday's Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic, followed by Wednesday's Downtown Walterboro Criterium. Clarke then hooked up with team-mates Caleb Manion, Ivan Dominguez and Dominique Rollin to take his third consecutive win at the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston.
"I could barely hold the wheels of my team-mates, when they hit the afterburners on the last lap, so I knew there was no way I could lose the race with that lead out," said Clarke. "Ivan and Dom told me after the race jokingly that my seven wins this year count for one of their big wins [referring to Rollin's Stage 4 win at the Amgen Tour of California and Dominguez's Stage 1 win at the recent Tour de Georgia] so now we are all even."
The very next day, Manion made good use of the form he showed in South Carolina, taking the Nalley Historic Roswell Criterium in what was the team's second NRC win in as many days. With three other riders, Manion lapped the field before going on to win the final sprint.
The win is Manion's first as a Toyota-United rider as he usually is one of the final men in the lead out train for the team's pure sprinters.
"I enjoy leading the boys out for wins each week, but when my time came up, Hilton Clarke, Dominguez and Rollin were happy to repay the favour and help me win the race." He said.
By finishing first and third in the Nalley/Sunny King Criteriums, Manion was also the overall omnium winner for the weekend. Close behind and second overall was Clarke who won the field sprint for fifth in Roswell.