USA's Holloway Sprints to Top Spot in Stage 1

June 25, 2008 10:38:30 AM PDT
Philadelphia's downtown cycling fans were offered a second round of excitement when the current US national criterium champion, Daniel Holloway (VMG-Felt) lit up the final 200-meters in Stage 1B of the American Eagle Outfitters® Tour of Pennsylvania presented by Highmark Healthy High 5®. Holloway captured a convincing field sprint victory in this elite U25 competition ahead of Jacob Keough (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast/USA) and Christoff Van Heerden of South Africa (Konica Minolta Continental) in the 25-lap criterium of day one."I think my fitness is better than what I thought it was coming into the race," said Holloway who jumped out of the last corner on Fairmount Park's two-kilometer circuit with enough time to throw his arms in a victory salute outside the Memorial Hall finish line.

"It was a huge team effort all the way from the riders to our director Chan McRae and to the mechanics and staff getting our bikes perfect. The team executed on every level from attacking to covering, and they really made my job easy," said Holloway. "They did their job and I did mine."

There was no recovery on the technically demanding flat 2-kilometre circuit as riders from every nation threw themselves against the wind in an effort to gain seconds on a field that turned hungry for a bunch sprint.

VMG-Felt organized a timely lead out for their winning sprinter with three laps to go, a much needed effort to control an aggressive field. A strong performance from Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast quickly took over their lead within the crucial, final 800 meters.

"My guys came together and put there heads down and stuck it out for me," continued Holloway. "They put everything into me and it feels really good that they believed in me that way."

By virtue of winning the stage, the young American sprinter kicked off the start of the green jersey point's competition. The precious points are available at intermediate sprint spots and at the finish line of each subsequent stage.

With no time bonuses available during the criterium, the prologue winner Steven Van Vooren (Johan Brunyeel Cycling Academy/BEL) maintained his three-second overall lead ahead of Keven LaCombe (Kelly Benefit Strategies-Medifast) and Christoff Van Heerden (Konica Minolta Continental).

"I think the race was a little sketchy and I wanted to keep it safe," said race leader Van Vooren who noted the similarities between the American criterium racing and the Belgian Kermeese.

"I'm used to the speed, but I was content to just sit in tonight. We tried to hold back and keep the field together. We didn't have to do too much. The sprinters did their job, and we sat back and let them do their thing."

The Highmark Healthy High 5® best young rider jersey was given to Andrew Baker (TIME Pro Cycling/USA) for his least accumulated time combined during both the prologue and the criterium.

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