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Pineda makes a dash for the cash in Martinsburg cycling stop

July 23, 1998|By DAN SPEARS

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

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Grand Prix Cyclists

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Chad Gerlach should have known better.

Juan Pineda certainly did.

Gerlach and Pineda, familiar foes in American professional cycling circles, battled each other for the last 15 laps of the Martinsburg Grand Prix Criterium Wednesday night before Pineda sprinted away with the victory in the first stage of the 1998 Tour of West Virginia.

--cont from sports--

"They (Pineda and his brother Oscar, who finished third) are very good sprinters," Gerlach said. "I guess you could say I got caught in a Pineda sandwich."

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Juan Pineda simply fed on Gerlach in the final uphill sprint, flying by despite Gerlach's move to the outside of the pack.

"Yes, we know each other," Pineda said after his victory on a humid night in downtown Martinsburg. "I know I'm a little bit faster at the end. He beat me last week (in Wisconsin), so I guess this is a little bit of revenge."

Juan Pineda, Gerlach, and Scott Weiss took off from the pack with about 19 laps to go, and Pineda picked up an extra cash bonus for beating Gerlach across the line with 18 laps to go.

Gerlach returned the favor without much resistance with two laps left, and started to put it in cruise control.

"When we went out together and no one made a run, I kinda stopped working," Gerlach said. "Then I got the money easy, and I decided to just jump it as hard as I could at the end. It just didn't work out."

The group of three was caught by a group of five riders with eight laps to go, and the lead group grew to 10, including Oscar Pineda, with about two laps to go.

And while Juan Pineda was working hard for his money, Oscar got his for "free."

Oscar Pineda, stuck in the field for most of the race, saw his opportunity to go for the lead group sitting on the side of the road - in the form of fellow rider Greg Cook.

Cook was waiting for the field to come back around with eight laps to go after missing a lap with a flat tire. But race rules state that a rider doesn't lose a lap if he can replace the tire and rejoin the field before they come around again.

Cook made time, and he and Pineda took off to catch the leaders.

"I just picked him up," Oscar Pineda said. "We just tried to catch up, but it takes a lot. The whole field is looking at you take off and they're chasing you down."

But Oscar Pineda and Cook caught up, setting the stage for the furious finish by Juan.

"I was just trying to stay back," Juan Pineda said. "I didn't want to waste anything until the end.

"I feel pretty good right now."

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