Toyota-United has high hopes for US Open

The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team will put its top riders on the start line of Saturday's inaugural US Open Cycling Championships. Two of them - sprinter Ivan Dominguez and veteran European pro Henk Vogels - are being pegged as favorites to win the UCI 1.1-rated, 112-mile (179 km) race.

The event is the second stop on the USA Cycling Professional Tour after the Tour of California in February. It begins in colonial Williamsburg at 8:10 a.m. and finishes with eight laps of a 5.5-mile circuit in the capital city of Richmond.

Joining Vogels and Dominguez on the Toyota-United start list are: Chris Wherry, Ivan Stevic, Sean Sullivan, Justin England, Jose-Manuel Garcia and Caleb Manion. "I will probably designate some of our guys to do a job early on - riders who have a lesser chance of making it happen," Toyota-United Team Director Harm Jansen said. "They're there to cover breaks. That's one thing we can control: being represented in every break that goes up the road. If we don't like the representation of the break, we will chase it down immediately."

Saturday's weather could play a decisive factor. The current forecast calls for temperatures in the mid-30s [Fahrenheit; 1-2° Celsius] at the start, with a 30 percent chance of rain and/or sleet and snow mix. Temperatures in Richmond for the finish (expected to be around noon) are forecast to be in the middle 40s [6-7° Celsius] under cloudy skies.

Sullivan, who serves as one of the riders on the Toyota-United lead-out train, said Dominguez will be hard to beat if he is near the front as the finish line nears. "When he gets to the last corner in the first two or three positions, it's kind of hard for anyone to get near him," Sullivan said. "I think we have a really strong chance of winning. We just have to keep doing what we're doing."

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