Crystal City, Va. - In a race that Shawn Milne said he simply hoped to finish, the fifth-year pro from Beverly, Mass., delivered much more in Sunday's Air Force Cycling Classic.
Milne pulled off one of the most high profile victories in the two-year history of the Team Type 1 men's professional program by out-sprinting four breakaway companions at the end of the 109.2-mile (175 km) USA Cycling Professional Tour series event in Crystal City, Va.
It was the 20th win of the season for the Team Type 1 men and the third in just one week's time.
"I didn't feel good all day," an overjoyed Milne said. "In fact, I felt miserable. With two laps to go, I was supposed to be ready to lead out Ken (Hanson) and I told him I didn't think I had it in me."
Despite the inclination to pack it in, Milne forged on and soon found himself and teammate Matt Wilson riding in the decisive break. But once again, he wasn't thinking about his own chances.
"Matt was feeling well, so I was taking more pulls, trying to keep everyone working together," Milne said.
When a further split reduced the lead group to just five with a little more than one 7.7-mile (12.5 km) lap of the course remaining, Milne said he started sizing up his chances of earning his first victory since the Exeter (N.H.) Criterium last July.
"I was a little worried because I didn't know everyone I was riding with," the 27-year-old said. "I knew Davide Frattini of Colavita and Jeremy Vennell of Bissell. But I didn't recognize Charles Dionne (Fly V Australia) and for some reason, I thought Kelly Benefits' Scott Zwizanski was Zach Bell. So I thought I had to watch out for him for sure."
Zwizanski twice tried to jump the group inside the final mile and Vennell made what looked like the winning move with 800 meters to go. But both attacks were brought back, allowing Milne to bide his time before beginning his own sprint from the 200-meter mark.
Dionne finished second, Zwizanski was third, Frattini fourth and Vennell came in a further two seconds back for fifth. A group of eight chasers rolled through a further 13 seconds back.
Milne's win - the first for Team Type 1 in an International Cycling Union-classified race on U.S. soil - continues a week-long string of success that includes Wilson's victory May 24 at the Bound Brook Criterium at the Lantus Tour of Somerville, Aldo Ino Ilesic's win on Wednesday at the Ricola Twilight Grand Prix in Basking Ridge, N.J., and Hanson's runner-up finish Saturday at the U.S. Air Force Cycling Classic Clarendon Cup in Arlington, Va.
Team Type 1 Director Sportif Vassili Davidenko said the results bode well heading into the most prestigious single-day event on the U.S. racing scene, Sunday's TD Bank International Championship in Philadelphia.
"I see our guys getting stronger and stronger, but that's a longer race (156 miles) than any that we have done this year," Davidenko said. "But Wednesday, we will do a group training ride together behind the car as a final preparation ride and then we'll be ready to go."