Hegg, Demet Win Road Cycling Trials
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Steve Hegg won his second Olympic cycling trial Sunday by making a big move midway through the 108-mile race and expanding his lead for a comfortable victory.
Dede Demet grabbed the chance to claim her first senior women’s national road racing championship this year on familiar ground: a 44-mile Olympic qualifier in the same race she won last year.
Hegg surprised the crowd by making a break from the main secondary pack of riders midway through the 108-mile Thrift Drug Classic, riding hard to close a three-minute gap and catch the leaders.
With two laps to go in the 16-lap race, Hegg was way ahead of all other riders. In the final stretch, a group of six closed to within 20 seconds of Hegg, but he pushed through to the finish in 4 hours, 30 minutes and 28 seconds, 1:01 ahead of the runners-up.
``I’ve always wanted to win this race,″ Hegg said. ``It’s the hardest race in the country.″
Hegg, 32, who rides for the Chevrolet-L.A. Sheriffs team, won a gold medal in 1984 and is the only Olympic champion competing for the 1996 team. He won the 21-mile time trial Wednesday in Martinsburg, W.Va.
``He was amazing. He rode a super race,″ said Frankie Andreu, who placed third and retained his first-place ranking for the Olympic team four points ahead of Hegg’s 117. Team Saturn’s Frank McCormack of Leicester, Mass., placed second.
After a time trial and a road race in North Carolina next week, the top two riders in points from all the trials will qualify for the Olympic team. Coach Roy Knickman chooses the other two, and those four and Lance Armstrong, who automatically qualifies because of his No. 11 world ranking, will comprise the team.
Demet won the Thrift Drug Women’s Invitational in one hour, 49 minutes and 50 seconds, just five seconds ahead of Heather Albert.
``It’s a title that’s eluded me for a long time,″ Demet said.
The former junior national champion also won the Pittsburgh race last year, but that event was not for the national championship. Demet’s Saturn teammate, Jeanne Golay, won the 1995 senior championship in Seattle.
Pittsburgh’s race ``gave me a lot of confidence because I knew the course. But I went into it like it was a new race, a new day,″ Demet said.
With the win, Demet, 23, of Colorado Springs, Colo., moves into fourth place in her attempt to make the Olympic team.
After another road race and a time trial in North Carolina next week, the woman with the most points automatically qualifies for the team. Coach Henny Topp will choose the other two members of the three-woman U.S. team.
Chevrolet-Klein’s Linda Brenneman, who won the 47-mile road race Thursday in Wheeling, retains her top ranking with 119 points after placing fourth Sunday.