Team Saturn's Frank McCormack crowned an all-summer winning streak two weeks ago by winning the U.S. Professional Cycling Criterium Championship in Downers Grove, Ill.
The Leicester resident won the 62-mile race in a field sprint after teammates Norm Alvis, Bart Bown and Ron Kiefel performed a textbook lead-out with one lap to go on the 1-mile, eight-corner course.
"I needed to be the first one through the last corner, ideally with a teammate on my wheel" to protect against a rival sprinter passing in the final stretch, said McCormack, 26. He beat Roberto Gaggioli (Guiltless Gourmet) to the corner, but right behind them, Dave McCook of Montgomery-Bell crashed, taking Saturn's Mike McCarthy and McCormack's younger brother, Paul (Saab), down with him. With Gaggioli on his wheel, McCormack risked losing his lead, "but he didn't even come up on me," he said.
It was the ninth race McCormack won in eight weeks , including the Wachusett Mountain Road Race in the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic for the second year in a row; a nighttime criterium in the Oregon Cascade Classic; the Norwest Cup in Minneapolis; the Chris Thater Memorial in Binghamton, N.Y., and the 80-mile road race in the Tour de 'Toona in Altoona, Pa.
Racing with Saturn is "the cat's meow" compared to struggling through last year without a major sponsor, said McCormack, who had raced for the Plymouth-based IME team in 1993. He said he began this season "thinking positively, but I don't think I ever expected it to be this good."
"He's actually on fire," said Karen Haas, publisher of the regional cycling magazine The Ride. "He's the hottest pro in America right now. It's him and Mike Engleman" of Team Shaklee, she said last week, anticipating a showdown at the five-day Killington Stage Race in Vermont, which began Thursday.
At Killington, Saturn will "race to win," McCormack said last week, but "Engleman is likely to win everything'' for the third year in a row. Engleman, 36, was overall winner of the Longsjo and the Cascade Classic this year, and "Killington suits him even more. There's lots of climbing, and he's won it before. We're going to do our best to give him a run for his money, but realistically, he's going to be hard to beat," McCormack said.
"A run for his money" is right: Yesterday, McCormack won the
108-mile road race and took the overall leader's jersey. Engleman won the
3.4-mile time trial Thursday, and McCormack placed fourth. Neither placed in the
top 10 in Friday's 111-mile road race, won by U.S. road champion Malcolm Elliott
of Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriff.
Dissatisfied with the U.S. Cycling Federation's level of attention to non-elite riders, a group of Midwesterners has formed a new cycling organization called American Bicycle Racing. ABR will license racers, sanction races, provide race insurance to promoters and offer educational services. Nestor Evancevich of Chicago has resigned as a USCF district representative to become executive director of ABR.
Membership, for $20 a year, will be available beginning Dec. 1; one-day trial membership will cost $5. For more information, contact secretary Andrea Harris, PO Box 2, Winnetka, Ill. 60093 (708-949-1328).
Lynne Tolman's bicycling column archives
Lynne Tolman's home page