04 | JAN
(May 7, 2006) - With Jesse Anthony and Martin Gilbert
riding well in the USA Crits series in the Southeast and Mike Dietrich nearly
stealing stage 3 at the Teleperformance Tour of the Gila, three of the Kodakgallery.com/Sierra
Nevada Pro Cycling Team's first-year pros showed their potential over past
week of racing.
Anthony, 20, rode constantly at the front of the six USA Crits races and finished atop the series' under-23 classification, just ahead of Priority Health's Tommy Nankervis.
"I played my role for the team, covering breakaways and helping our sprinters in the finishes. But I also tried to finish as high as I could, and I was consistent enough to take the overall," noted Anthony, who at one point led the GE Best Young Rider competition during the Ford Tour de Georgia in April.
Making his first start with Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada since the Amgen
Tour of California in February, Gilbert, 23, improved steadily during the
series, finishing 9th, 5th, and 9th in the final three races and 11th overall
despite crashing out of the series opener, the Athens Twilight on April
29, on the second lap.
Other highlights for Kodakgallery.com/Sierra Nevada in the USA Crits series
were Scott Zwizanski's extended solo break in the Greenwood, SC race, along
with Ben Jacques-Maynes and Jackson Stewart finishing 13th and 15th overall
in the series, which concluded on May 6 in Anniston, Alabama at the Sunny
Meanwhile in New Mexico's high desert, Dietrich,
24, fought through a steady headwind for nearly three hours with John Tarkington
(Vitamin Cottage) during the Tour of the Gila's stage 3 Inner Loop Road
Race, only to be caught in the last 25 meters by Health Net-Maxxis' Gord
Fraser and Scott Moninger.
Dietrich's effort to hold on for third place in the stage earned praise
from teammate Dominique Perras, who said, "Mike rode with a lot of courage.
It was a tough day, very windy, and he almost pulled it off."
Perras himself finished 11th overall after placing 9th unofficially in the
race's notorious final stage, the 100-mile Gila Monster Road Race.
"We ended up a group of 12 at finish, and I tried to jump with 500 meters
to go and cramped a little bit. I'm fairly happy that I could follow the
best climbers, especially since almost everyone who does well here lives
at altitude," added Perras, who also pointed out teammate Skyler Bishop's
hard work in a support role during the five-day race.