Dipping into lead; Milkowski takes trial, then swims to cool off.
ASHBURNHAM - Anna Milkowski was the first women's pro cyclist to start yesterday's Best Western Royal Plaza/Rindge Road Time Trial, the opening stage of the 48th annual Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. And after posting what turned out to be the fastest time, she disappeared for some 30 minutes.
"She's so fast, she races, then she's like, `OK, let's go,'" said her TargetTraining Women's Team teammate Nina Santiago, who was also looking for Milkowski after completing the 6.55-mile course. "She's probably back and already showered."
Actually, after crossing the finish line, Milkowski came upon a family having a picnic at nearby Ward Pond, said hello, then went for a refreshing dip.
"That was definitely a highlight," said Milkowski, who deserved the swim on such a steamy day.
Milkowski finished the uphill trek in 19 minutes, 30.16 seconds, and takes a 15.79-second lead over teammate Kathleen Billington into today's Fitchburg State College Circuit Race.
"I didn't want to go out too hard at the beginning because there are a lot of really good riders here, and you want to ride the time trial within yourself," Milkowski said. "I've been feeling pretty strong, and I wanted to go hard on the parts where it was going to count, but not kill myself on the steep uphill."
Russ Langley of the Bettley Harley-Davidson/Hudson Trail team won the men's pro time trial in 16:17.64, 10.84 seconds faster than Matthew Crane of Health Net presented by Maxxis.
"It's a strong man's course," Langley said. "It's all power."
The time trial course was new this year. It started on Rindge Road in Fitchburg, near the entrance to Scott Road, and headed north through Fitchburg, Ashby and Ashburnham.
"I liked it," said 2004 Fitchburg Longsjo champion Mark McCormack. "It's very challenging. It's technical, yet it's not technical. You've got bumps you've got to watch for. The road's never straight, so you're looking to find the shortest line around the corners, and the hills just keep coming. I didn't know when the last rise was. It's a tough race."
McCormack, racing as an amateur category 1 (he is now working as territory manager for Fuji Bicycles), was 29th, 1:20.5 behind.
There are just 48 women in the pro 1/2 race this year as compared to 71 last year. Defending champion Sarah Ulmer is not here, nor notables like Tina Pic of Colavita/Cooking Light, who was fourth in 2006.
"The race is a little bit smaller than in past years because it's not a national calendar status race, but there are still a lot of really good riders here," said Milkowski, a Yale graduate student who earned her bachelor's degree from Harvard and has raced the Fitchburg Longsjo since 1998. "It may be a small field, but it's a tough field. I wouldn't miss it for the world. I love the spirit of it."
The TargetTraining Women's Team, which is based in Westport, Conn., had four riders in the top five. Hiroko Shimada, riding a new bike she got just two days ago, was fourth in 20:03.71 and Rebecca Much fifth in 20:11.39.
"We hope to come out on top," Billington said. "This is a serious race, especially for us being New England-area based."
Billington felt she achieved her goal for the time trial.
"Everyone hopes to not lose a lot of time because it's hard to make up," she said, "but in the same breath, you hope to not blow yourself up for the next couple of days. It's all about pacing yourself."
Megan Guarnier of Terry Precision was third in 19:57.17. Her teammate Kerry Litka was eighth, 1:11.28 back. Natalie Dumont of Fitchburg was 32nd in 22:26.61.
Five men's pro riders broke 17 minutes. Ben Kneller of Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was third in 16:37.25, Zachary Grabowski of VMG Racing fourth in 16:48.41 and Jacob Rytlewski of Rite Aid Pro Cycling fifth in 16:56.65.
Langley won the time trial at the Tour of Virginia in April.
"The time trials are kind of what I've done well in so far this year," said Langley, who is from Kensington, Md. "I was looking to do pretty well here. I'm building for time trial nationals in a little less than two weeks, and right after that is road nationals, so I'm hoping to peak for that, and this is the last preparations."
Crane, who is from Greenwich, Conn., had been in Canada training with his coach and also preparing for nationals.
"I'm feeling awesome," said Crane, who is the lone representative of his Health Net team.
"This is my favorite race in the states. It's kind of like a local thing for me, and I like the courses a lot."
Langley was one who expressed his preference for the old time trial course near the Best Western Royal Plaza. "There was a little more atmosphere there," he said, "but if I did well here, I'm happy with it regardless."
PHOTOG: T&G Staff Photos/RICK CINCLAIR
CUTLINE: (PHOTO 1) A rider in the women's pro 1/2 class speeds toward the finish line in the time trial of the Fitchburg Longsjo Classic. (PHOTO 2) Matthew Crane of Old Greenwich, Conn., nears the finish of the men's pro time trial.
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|Publication:||Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)|
|Date:||Jun 29, 2007|
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