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Wednesday, May 17, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
2000 ACA Summer Criterium Series
Story by Joe Papp with photos by Don Parks, Matt Walker and Don Madden

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6]
For more information on cycling in Southwest PA, check with the Allegheny Cycling Association.

A Race
Rob Acciavatti checks on a fast rolling "A" train
What do you get when you put two Olympic Trials qualifiers, a collegiate National Champion and a US Junior National Team member together with 30 other Category 1-2-3 riders for 50 laps of racing on the Pseudodrome? Some of the best amateur racing on the East Coast, that's what! Include on the start list for tonight's "A" race were Dave Wenger and Joe Papp, both of whom will ride the Olympic Trials road race on Saturday in Jackson, Mississippi; Rob Acciavatti, who dominated last week's collegiate National Championships in Ohio where he won the criterium and finished second in the road race; and Mike Friedman, who will be on a plane crossing the Atlantic in only a matter of days to do battle with the best under-18 riders in the world.

Thus, it was no surprise when on lap one, Papp (Pittsburgh Cycling Club) and Wenger (Team Columbus) attacked up the road. The field, wise to the ways of these two twenty-something's, gave them no slack and began an immediate chase. What followed were some of the fastest consecutive laps ever recorded on the 'drome. The two leaders were quickly reabsorbed, but counterattacks came thick and thin from all sides of the bunch. Papp remarked after the event that for the first five minutes of racing, his "heart rate didn't drop below 190!" The intensity of the pace was revealed in the faces of the agonized riders who were stretched into a long, single file line for lap after lap.

A night of speed on the oval
Finally, the tether broke on lap 10 when Wenger and Papp again jumped away for a $5 prime from Determined blocking by Papp's teammate Mike Friedman gave the duo the precious seconds they needed to establish a viable lead. Realizing the seriousness of the escape, Team Guinness's Dick Brink made a Herculean effort to bridge the gap.

No sooner had Brink made contact with the leaders than another group popped off the front of the chasing field. It contained Acciavatti, who wore the colors of West Virginia's Team Go Mart, John Evanko (Team Schwinn) and the ever-watchful Friedman. Up ahead, Papp stopped working with Wenger and Brink, but only long enough for his teammate to join him. Once the six riders were together, the pace immediately increased several km/hr. Friedman recounted that before his group got away, the field approached speeds of 70km/hr on the gradually-downhill backstretch-the breakaways fought tooth and nail for every second of their lead.

Alas, the combined strength of the escapees proved too much for the exhausted field. With 15 laps to go, the break caught the back of the bunch and roared straight by them! Looks of amazement appeared on the faces of riders such as Don Mosites (TRM/ACA), Jay Downs (Guinness) and Steve Hutter (PCC) as the men they had spent the last 25 laps pursuing attacked again!

Team Brooklyn
The "B" race Brooklyn team in formation
Determined not to lose another lap, the field absolutely refused to let go of the leaders. Eventually, the break began to fall towards the back to sort itself out. Friedman and Papp marked Acciavatti, while Wenger kept his eye on the other three.

Inside of 5km to go, another prime split the field, though with one lap to go, the PCC's Mark Nicoll began chasing for Papp and Friedman. The field came back together in turn three, at which point Wenger launched a vicious attack that caught Papp and Friedman slightly off-guard. A determined Gunnar Shogren (Guinness) also dove into the melee, sprinting for all he was worth through the final turn.

As the field fanned out across the road, Friedman went left with Wenger on his right side, Papp took the centerline, and Acciavatti drifted to the right. Papp held off a hard-charging Acciavatti for the win, while Friedman barely pipped Wenger on the line for third. Papp's winning time of 54:16 set a new 25 mile mass-start record at the Pseudodrome, erasing the former mark of 54:21, set by Kyle Dixon on July 14, 1999.

Caught in traffic, Evanko - a relatively fast finisher himself - could not pass Brink for fifth. Team Glenwood's Jim Kucavich was the best-placed lapped rider.

C Race
Young riders get their start in the "C" race
Thirty-three riders took to the line for the B race, which covered 30 laps. Last week's prime king, Josh Shaffer (AHRR) emerged victorious, out-sprinting Ryan Mele (Volpatti's) to the line. In a scene reminiscent of a stage finish in a late-1980's Tour de France, when Olaf Ludwig snuck past a hapless rider who made the mistake of looking behind him during the sprint, Mele conceded victory in large part because he hesitated and looked over his shoulder before crossing the line. Shaffer made the most of Mele's mistake, cruising to his first ACA victory in 2000.

Charlie Chulack (Pittsburgh Cycling Club), riding his first B race after utterly dominating the C race, finished a very respectable third overall. He also won the Most Aggressive Rider honors. Andrew Mor (ACA), who also won a prime, finished fourth, and Team Brooklyn's Steve Kundeman was fifth.

Team Gary Fisher's Michael Wolinksi won the C race (and a prime) ahead of junior rider Hansel Lucas (Trek). Dave Butler (WVU) beat Mike Rytel (East Suburban Sports Med.) for fourth, and the PCC's Ray Russell finished fifth. Kevin Cramer was the Most Aggressive Rider.