US Postal Service Team Report
Pena second in Algarve; Van Heeswijk third at Classic Haribo
The United States Postal Service Pro Cycling Team capped a successful weekend yesterday by reaching the podium in events in Portugal and France. Victor Hugo Pena, on the strength of solid rides in Saturday's time trial stage and yesterday's final road stage, placed second overall in the Tour of Algarve in Portugal while newcomer Max Van Heeswijk made his presence felt immediately by placing third in a mass sprint at the Classic Haribo in France.
In Portugal, Pena jumped from 19th oveall to second following his second place finish in Saturday's 10.5 kilometer time trial from Guia to Albufeira. Both Pena and stage winner - and eventual race winner - Claus Michael Moller of Milaneza-MSS started the stage 23 seconds back of leader and Moller teammate, Angel Edo. Pena finished nine seconds back of Moller's winning time of 13:27. Three other USPS team members finished in the top 20 in the stage, with Michael Barry in 13th at 43 seconds, George Hincapie in 14th at 48 seconds and Jose Luis Rubiera in 16th at 51 seconds.
In yesterday's 161.2 km final stage, which finished on the second category climb of Alto do Malhao, Pena placed a solid fourth behind three Milaneza-MSS teammates, including Moller in second. The Portuguese team won three of the five stages and finished first, third, fourth and seventh overall. Along with Pena's performance, teammate Michael Barry finished 15th overall..
"Victor's second place in his first race of the year is a very good sign," said Johan Bruyneel, the USPS team's Director Sportif. "I was very happy with the way he and the rest of the team performed in Algarve. We started the race with the objective of keeping Victor's chances intact until stage four and Victor did a fantastic ride in finishing second. The last stage was a very tough uphill finish and Victor managed to hold on Moller's wheel. The team performance was very good, also with the second place finish of Michael Barry in the first stage."
Meanwhile in France, Van Heeswijk rode solidly to reach the podium. Ag2r's Jann Kirsipuu won the event for the second time in a row and third time in last four years. The race win was also Kirsipuu's 100th professional victory. On Saturday, Viatcheslav Ekimov finished 12th at the Tour du Haut Var, also in France.
The team will race again this weekend at the traditional Belgian season opener, Het Volk, on Saturday, followed by Kuurne-Brussels-Kuurne, also in Belgium, on Sunday.
FINAL GC, TOUR OF ALGARVE
1. Claus Michael Moller, Milaneza-MSS; 17:19:06
2. Victor Hugo Pena; at :15
3. Pedro Cardoso, Milaneza-MSS; at :34
4. David Bernabeu, Milaneza-MSS; at :38
5. Candido Barbosa, L.A. Pecol; at :39
15. Michael Barry; at 1:37
34. George Hincapie; at 3:42
DNF - Jose Luis Rubiera
DNF - Guennadi Mikhailov
DNF - Damon Kluck
2003 CLASIC HARIBO
1. Jaan Kirsipuu, Ag2r; 197 kms in 4:55:26
2. Lars Michaelsen, CSC; s.t.
3. Max Van Heeswijk; s.t.
4. Jean-Patrick Nazon, Jean Delatour; s.t.
5. Damien Nazon, La Boulangere; s.t.