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Wednesday, August 9, 2000 -- Pittsburgh, PA
2000 ACA Summer Criterium Series
Story by Joe Papp with photos by Jeff Martello and Joe Papp

[Details] [Coverage] [Overall Results] [Pic Set 1]

Jeff, Sue & Betsy
Jeff Martello, Sue Waybright & Bestsy Shauer enjoy another night of racing at Pittsburgh's 'drome
"That was great!" explained Betsy Schauer (Pittsburgh Cycling Club), after finishing her first class C criterium. "It was so much fun," she continued, "and I can't wait until next week!" Such enthusiastic reactions to the Allegheny Cycling Association's regular Wednesday night races have become commonplace at the Pseudodrome, and help explain why Pittsburgh's premier bicycle racing club has successfully promoted local events for 28 years.

Though Schauer was content simply to finish in the C field, Todd Copeland (Pizza Outlet) and Bernard Jakob (Brooklyn) had other plans. The two broke away in the opening laps of the 10-mile race, and despite the heroic chasing of Schauer's teammate Henry Wang, they established an insurmountable lead. A dramatic two-up sprint seemed inevitable until the last few laps, when Copeland dropped off of the pace. Jakob charged on alone and scored a commanding win, though Copeland outlasted the field for second. Wang, who at one point seemed capable of bridging to the leaders alone, finished a respectable third.

East Suburban
East Suburban leads the B field break
In a surprise move, Josh Shaffer (Fort) launched a solo attack on the first lap of the 15-mile B race. Caught off guard, and unwilling to give the series points leader too much of an advantage, the East Suburban-led field began a desperate chase. The seriousness of Shaffer's move quickly became apparent, as several riders bridged the gap while others were dropped from the field, which was strung out single-file along the course. Though the breakaway's lead was only a few seconds, Shaffer continued to bury himself at the front. Guy Berkebile (2 + 2), Mark Bold (PCC), Chris Sale and Mike Rytel (East Suburban) were all sent back to the bunch, only to be replaced by Colin Sandberg (PCC) and Dave Curry (East Suburban). Rob Masterson (PCC) became the last rider to cross the gap after a blistering solo chase.

The four leaders worked well together, and Shaffer never tempered his pulls, even with two PCC riders following his heels for the entire night. As it was, he needn't have worried about either Masterson or Sandberg, as neither was willing to jeopardize the break's chances by making solo moves in the closing miles. Shaffer was a pure picture of power as he sprinted comfortably to the win ahead of Sandberg. Masterson was third and Curry fourth, while Hansel Lucas (Brooklyn) won the field sprint for fifth.

Perhaps due to the threat of late-evening thundershowers, only 22 riders contested the 40-lap class A event. Nevertheless, with Mike Friedman (PCC) attending the race in preparation for the 2000 Junior Pan-Am Games, a fast pace was all but guaranteed. Gunnar Shogren and Dick Brink (Team Guinness) launched countless attacks, as did Friedman's PCC teammates, but no breaks succeeded in gaining a tenable lead over the vigilant bunch in the first 20 laps. However, a mid-race $10 prime (big money at the 'drome!), won by the PCC's Joe Papp, paved the way for an attack by Brink and Mark Nicoll (PCC). Despite complaining of inordinate fatigue to one-and-all before the start of the race, Nicoll was a more than an able partner for the hard-charging Brink (who would go on to win the Most Aggressive Rider award). The two might have stayed away for the remainder of the race, were it not for a series of attacks by Brett Baronak (MVC) that rejuvenated the dazed field.

Brett Baronak
Brett Baronak on the attack
Amazingly, once the field caught the two leaders, it was Brink who followed the expected counterattack by Papp! Even more amazing was the fact that Baronak's teammate Matt Brungard made an impressive solo chase, only to refuse to contribute to the pace making in front! Preferring his chances against Papp in a field sprint, Brungard took but a token pull before deciding to wait for a regrouping. The final laps followed the usual script, with a slight variation: Papp's teammates prepared the leadout, with Brungard beating all comers to the sought-after space behind the State Criterium Champion. However, as Papp followed Nicoll down the backstretch, he could be clearly heard shouting to his leadout man to "slow down!" Sensing weakness and hoping to beat his archrival for the first time since last spring, the tall, lanky Brungard timed his sprint to perfection and surged to a bike-length lead with 100m to go. Papp fought desperately in the sprint's second half, and despite having to dodge a hook from Brungard that would have made Matt Eaton proud, overtook the man in blue before the line for his 5th Wednesday night victory of the season.

After 10 events, Papp leads Brungard in the overall by a mere three points, and with only three races remaining, a failure to place by either man could guarantee victory for the other. Should Papp claim the series, he will become the first four-time Club Champion (ahead of Bob Gottlieb, Dan Chew, Clark Fisher and Mac Martin, all of whom won three), while a Brungard victory would be the first for an Ohio-based team in the Pittsburgh series. Stay tuned for more exciting racing next week!