As if winning the Tour of Langkawi stage race in Malaysia in February wasnt enough, Chris Horner (Mercury) punctuated his return to the U.S. road-racing scene with a solid victory at the 16th annual Redlands Classic in March, the first big domestic race of the season.
The victory was telling as to Horners talent, because it ended the four-year reign of the powerful U.S. Postal Service in the race. Absent from the U.S. racing scene since 1997, Horner raced in Europe with the French La Franaise des Jeux team for three years.
Horner is back on familiar, winning ground. His three years in Europe were a lesson in cycling hard knocks, as Horner never quite achieved the kind of success he experienced in his breakthrough season in 1996, when he won a stage of the Tour du Pont and the Olympic qualifying road race in Seattle.
"It'll just be less stress, and more fun, and I think more wins," native Californian Horner said.
U.S. National road series rankings
Horner (Mercury) the U.S. National road series rankings with 307 points through March 13. European veteran Horner bolsters the dominant U.S. team over the past two years Mercury occupies half of the top 10 ranked riders in the standings.
Can things get any easier for them? Trent Klasna (Saturn), who won two stages at Redlands, is a distant second with 198 points.
Mens individual standings
1 Chris Horner (Mercury) 307 pts
2 Trent Klasna (Saturn) 198
3 Dave Zabriskie (7-Up/Colorado Cyclist) 150
4 Scott Moninger (Mercury) 124
5 Floyd Landis (Mercury) 108
6 Michael Barry (Saturn) 106
7 Steve Zampieri (Mercury) 100
8 Gord Fraser (Mercury) 99
9 Levi Leipheimer (U.S. Postal Service) 93
10 Clark Sheehan (7-Up/Colorado Cyclist) 83
1 Mercury 738
2 Saturn 465
3 7-Up/Colorado Cyclist 272
4 U.S. Postal Service 267
5 Navigators 199
6 Shaklee 182
7 Zaxby's Cycling Team 59
8 Team GT 53
9 Volvo-Cannondale 49
10 Canadian National Team 45
Iditasport. Extreme. Impossible?
John Stamstad won the 100-mile, human-powered Iditasport race in February. Then he won the 350-mile Extreme Iditasport immediately after, for the fourth consecutive year.
He missed the hat trick by finishing second in the 1,500-mile Impossible Iditasport. The marathon race to Nome, which follows the route that the sled-dog mushers race, was run in celebration of the Millennium.
"Forget the Ecochallenge, the X-Games, the Raid Gauloise, and the rest, wrote Craig Medred for the Anchorage Daily News. They pale in comparison to the Iditasport Extreme. Those races are merely dangerous. This one is potentially deadly."
What does that say about the Impossible, readers wonder?
'Tink' aims for Sydney
Twenty years ago, when BMX riding was still populated by kids wearing jeans and T-shirts, Tinker Juarez accidentally landed in a race. Now a legend on the BMX and pro mountain bike circuit, the ageless 38 and counting Tink is closing in on another Olympics.
His second place at the Olympic Long Team Qualification race in Goodyear, Ariz., on March 5, put him in the running for one of two spots on the U.S. team.
Juarez is in competition with Travis Brown and Steve Larsen, and the World Cup races at Napa, California and Mazatlan, Mexico will count the most towards making the team.
USA qualifies 27 to Olympics
The United States, France and host country Australia will each field teams of 27 cyclists (28 riders maxim allowed) at the Sydney Games, according to a USA Cycling press release.
There will be 18 medal events, including road, track and mountain bike. The Olympics will be held from Sept. 15 to Oct. 1.
Medal events are broken down as follows: 12 track, four road, and two mountain bike. The United States has qualified riders in every event, with the exception of the men's Madison on the velodrome.
1. Australia, 27
2. France, 27
3. USA, 27
4. Germany, 26
5. Great Britain, 26
6. Spain, 26
Cycling coverage on TV
For the first year ever, the famed Paris-Roubaix road race, April 9, will be shown live on Outdoor Life Network.
OLN will offer 30 consecutive weeks of cycling coverage. Other race coverage includes the Tour of Langkawi (April 6), Fleche Wallonne, the Mercury Sea Otter Classic, World Cup mountain biking, and in May, the Giro d'Italia.