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Kelly Benefit Strategies dominate top five in Fitchburg opener

Bissell's Tom Zirbel won the 50th Fitchburg Longsjo Classic's opening time trial on Thursday and took the early race lead ahead of a slew of Kelly Benefit Strategies riders. It was his second time trial victory since he took the win in the Nature Valley Grand Prix in June.

KBS' Scott Zwizanski took second place, David Veilleux third and Zach Bell came fourth, setting up a favorable situation for that team in the road races. Zirbel acknowledged the tough competition he and his Bissell team are about face as the four-stage race continues in Massachusetts.

"I was happy with the way I rode today," said Zirbel. "I think Kelly Benefit Strategies did a great job today too. So far they've done a lot of racing that we haven't been at, so it was nice to see them racing so well. I'm also really happy for Scott because he was an awesome teammate of mine for two years and he is riding really well. But, I'm glad I jabbed him in the time trial!"

Zirbel won the 14-kilometre event in a time of 17:15 to take the overall lead with a 22-second margin ahead of Zwizanski and 32 seconds ahead of Veilleux.

"It was good for me," Zirbel said. "It wasn't completely flat - a lot of undulations and rough in some parts. The way back was a lot tougher than the first half. But Kelly Benefit Strategies is going to be tough to deal with and they have a lot of options right now - It should be a fun weekend."

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.