Many tried but no moves stuck in the three short technical laps of the 110-mile (177 km) course but after a break was immediately formed on the first of the four times up the 3-mile climb of Paris Mountain. After some shuffling and re-shuffling, it was finally a group of 12 riders that escaped and managed a time gap of up to 4 minutes to the field. The break included the Garmin trio of US TT Champion David Zabriskie, Lucas Euser and Steven Cozza, BMC duo of Jonathan Garcia and Jackson Stewart, Craig Lewis (Columbia), Nick Waite (Kelly Benefit/Medifast), Brad Huff (Jelly Belly), Mike Creed (Rock Racing), Jon Hamblen (Time Pro), Phil Zajicek (Helth Net-Maxxis) and yesterday’s runner-up Tom Zirbel (Bissell).
Word of the day: attrition. On the third time up Paris Mountain, the break splintered and the gap started to come down, and by the fourth and final long loop, the dozen dwindled to a duo, Euser and Garcia caught by the shattered chasing field. With only 3 short finishing circuits to go, a lead group of 15 riders was formed at the front and 5 riders escaped. The group was made up of Garmin trio Caldwell, Pate and Euser, Hamilton and BMC’s Jeff Louder.
And then the games started. The Garmin trio threw in attacks after attacks to try and drop Tour of Utah winner Louder and Hamilton. With one and a half lap to go, Caldwell attacked and Hamilton got on his wheel and that was the end of that as neither rider could drop the other one and it came down to a photo finish.
While the Garmin-Chipotle team used its numbers to control the race and put men in every break, the 37-year old Hamilton outplayed the 24-year old Caldwell to take the win. And if you’re counting at home, this makes it 3 National jerseys for the Rock Racing team, as last week back in Downer’s Grove, Rahsaan Bahati won the US Criterium Championship and Justin Williams took the U23 US Criterium title.
At the end of the race, USA Cycling announced that Greenville would again host the US Pro Championships in 2009.
Top 5 results.
1 Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)
2 Blake Caldwell (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
3 Danny Pate (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
4 Lucas Euser (Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)
5 Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team)