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Roll change; Ex-runner, ex-skier are the big wheels.

Byline: Rich Garven

WESTMINSTER - The spirit of Arthur Longsjo was alive and well as the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic Fitchburg Longsjo Classic is an annual road bicycle racing stage race held in and around Fitchburg, Massachusetts, United States.

The race began in 1960 as the-Longsjo Memorial Race, in memory of long-time Fitchburg resident Art Longsjo, who competed in both the Winter
, the cycling race that bears the name and hometown home·town  
The town or city of one's birth, rearing, or main residence.

Noun 1. hometown - the town (or city) where you grew up or where you have your principal residence; "he never went back to his hometown again"
 of the former two-sport Olympian, got under way for the 50th time.

Tom Zirbel, an ex-collegiate distance runner distance runner
A runner who competes in distance races.
, was a runaway winner in the men's pro 1 division of the Marriott by Courtyard South Street Time Trial yesterday. Fellow Colorado resident Alison Powers, a former World Cup skier, finished first in a competitive women's pro 1/2 field.

Powers had the hottest set of wheels in unseasonably cool but all-too-familiar conditions that saw dense fog give way to a light mist. The Team Type 1 rider covered the 8.89 miles of the out-and-back course in 19 minutes, 54.89 seconds.

That was good for a lead of 4 seconds over up-and-coming Evelyn Stevens, a former collegiate tennis player and the only other cyclist in the field of 113 to go under 20 minutes.

"The fog was awesome," Powers said while rhythmically pedaling a stationary bike Stationary Bike is a short story written by Stephen King, which was originally published in the fifth edition of From the Borderlands in 2003.

The story depicts the struggle of Richard Sifkitz — a commercial artist and widower — to suppress a passion for
 during a postrace cool-down in a nearby parking lot. "I've never raced in conditions like that before."

Powers, 29, grew up in Winter Park, Colo., learning to downhill ski at her hometown resort. She harbored legitimate Olympic aspirations before shattering her left kneecap kneecap (patella), saucer-shaped bone at the front of the knee joint; it protects the ends of the femur, or thighbone, and the tibia, the large bone of the foreleg. The kneecap is embedded in the tendon tissue of the quadriceps femoris, a large thigh muscle.  during a World Cup race in Austria in 2001.

Powers returned to racing two years later, but quit for good in midseason 2004.

"I was scared," she freely admitted, "and when you're going 70 miles per hour downhill, being scared isn't a good thing."

An avid mountain biker bik·er  
1. One who rides a bicycle or a motorbike.

2. A motorcyclist, especially a member of a motorcycle gang.


a person who rides a motorcycle
 before the injury, Powers found that type of riding to be hard on her rehabbed knee. So she switched to the road, turned pro in 2006, and remarkably won the U.S. national time trial championship last year in Irvine, Calif.

Befitting be·fit·ting  
Appropriate; suitable; proper.

be·fitting·ly adv.

Adj. 1.
 her national champion status, Powers is allowed to wear a specially awarded skin suit when competing in time trials. It's a title she personally defends each time out.

"I was hoping to win," Powers said. "Any time you wear a national champion skin suit, you want to defend it, whether there are other countries here or not."

The Longsjo, as always, has a nice international flavor to it. Canadian Anne Samplonius of Team Lip Smacker smack·er  
1. A loud kiss.

2. A resounding blow.

3. Slang A dollar.



1. a loud kiss

 was third (20:03.63), renowned Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo Jeannie Longo (born October 31, 1958) is a female French racing cyclist, multiple (51 times) French and world champion. Longo is still active in cycling as of 2007 and is widely considered the greatest female cyclist of all time.  fourth (20:08.27), and defending champion defending champion n (SPORT) → defensor/a m/f del título

defending champion n (Sport) → champion(ne) en titre

 Catherine Cheatley of New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland.  15th.

They'll all be back out there today for the Fitchburg State College Circuit Race, the second test of this four-day stage race.

On the men's side, Zirbel was 10th out of the chute, but none of the 161 contenders/pretenders to follow came close to touching the Bissell Pro Cycling rider's time of 17:15.16. Scott Zwizanski was nearly 23 seconds back, with fellow Kelly Benefits Strategies teammates David Veilleux and Zach Bell grabbing third and fourth, respectively.

Mike Friedman, the U.S. Olympian who races overseas for Spanish-based Garmain-Slipstream, was 11th. Defending champion Kyle Wamsley finished 40th.

"I've worked on my time trial position a little bit - it's all about how aero you can get - and our equipment is second to none," Zirbel said. "Those two things contribute to a good time trial, and I have those things in my favor right now."

Zirbel was a runner while attending high school and college in his native Iowa. He got serious about cycling in 2004 and turned pro two years later at the semi-advanced age of 28.

But it hasn't taken long for Zirbel to go from standing out in the cycling crowd - he's 6-foot-4 and 194 pounds - to being a standout cyclist. Although considered a time trial specialist, he was seventh overall at the Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas in May and second at the Nature Valley Grand Prix Nature Valley Grand Prix is an annual men's and women's road bicycle racing stage race held each June in Minnesota, United States as part of the Great River Energy Bicycle Festival. The Nature Valley Grand Prix is ranked at 2.  in Minnesota last month.

Remarkably, Zirbel lost the yellow jersey on the next-to-last lap on the fifth and final day of racing his last time out. It's a defeat he would prefer not to look back on, although he has tried to view it as a lesson learned while going forward.

"It's still a new experience for me," Zirbel said. "I'm learning every day. There are so many aspects to this sport if you want to be good at it."

Zirbel is aware there's a lot of racing to go. He also made it known he isn't here in search of a single stage win.

"I assume we're going to play our cards and try to stick with the goal of a general classification win," Zirbel said. "I'm fortunate, I feel, to have the best team here, and they'll do their best to protect me."

Zirbel, the former runner, and Powers, the ex-skier, produced the best efforts in Stage 1, times noted two-sporter Arthur Longsjo would be proud of.


PHOTOG pho·tog  
n. Informal
A person who takes photographs, especially as a profession; a photographer.

CUTLINE: (1) Daniel Estevez takes off to begin his time trial run on Day 1 of the Longsjo. (2) Alison Powers speaks after turning in the fastest run in the women's time trial.
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Title Annotation:SPORTS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 3, 2009
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