Vogels Wins Tour of the Gila Criterium; Manion Wins Roswell Criterium

Bend, OR - The Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team showed their character and spirit this weekend by answering the bell the very next day after learning Friday afternoon that the team's title sponsor would not be renewing their sponsorship agreement at the end of the season by winning 3 of the 4 races they entered this weekend.

Team Captain Henk Vogels set the tone for the weekend's action by storming to victory in Saturday nights Gila Criterium sponsored by Scott Nichols Toyota in Silver City, NM. The 43 mile NRC (National Race Calendar) criterium was dominated by the Toyota-United Team, who sent Vogels' teammate Heath Blackgrove up the rode in an early breakaway with six other riders for the majority of the race. The break never gained more than 30 seconds, and it was Team Bissell who steadily brought the breakaway back since they had no one form their team in the breakaway. This set Toyota-United up perfectly for the end of the race where Chris Wherry dropped a bomb on the back straight away passing the entire Colavita/Sutter Home lead out train, who was trying to set up their start sprinter Alejandro Borrajo for the win. Wherry was followed by Vogels and Jonny Clarke who was on Vogels wheel to ensure Borrajo could not draft Vogels wheel on the final straight away. Vogels came out of the final turn in the lead by two bike lengths over Borrajo as he drove it to the line in his 53 x 11 gear at over 40MPH. "All credit to the boys today, especially Blackgrove, Wherry and Clarke. My role is normally to lead out Dominguez or one of the other sprinters, but today I wanted to show the boys by example that we are the best team and despite the news we received yesterday, we need to keep winning and go get a new sponsor for 2009" said Vogels.


Meanwhile, earlier in the week, Hilton Clarke began his hat trick with back to back wins in South Carolina at Tuesday's Beaufort Memorial Cycling Classic, followed by Wednesday's Downtown Walterboro Criterium. Clarke then hooked up with teammates Caleb Manion, Ivan Dominguez and Dominique Rollin at the Sunny King Criterium in Anniston, AL sponsored by the local Toyota dealer, where Manion and Clarke made a breakaway with eight other riders representing all the major teams in the race as they lapped the field. On the final lap, Dominguez and Rollin led out Clarke for his third consecutive victory of the week in as many races, while Manion was able to sneak in for third to round out the podium. "I could barely hold the wheels of my teammates, when they hit the afterburners on the last lap, so I knew there was no way I could lose the race with that lead out." said Clarke after the race. Clarke continued, "Ivan and Dom told me after the race jokingly that my seven wins this year count for one of their big wins (referring to Rollin's Stage 4 win at the Amgen Tour of California and Dominguez's Stage 1 win at the recent Tour de Georgia Presented by AT & T) so now we are all even."

After a strong third place showing the day before, Caleb Manion (Toyota-United) won Sunday's Nalley Historic Roswell Criterium in what was the team's second NRC win in as many days. On a six turn, fast course in suburban Atlanta's town of Roswell, Manion scored the 25th win of the season for the boys in red, white, and blue.


With three other riders, Manion lapped the field and with a strong lead out from his teammates easily won the Nalley Criterium. In a familiar pattern the Toyota-United train came over the top of Health Net and Jittery Joes on the last lap with Rollin, Dominguez, and Clarke driving to the finish.

This was Manion's first win as a Toyota-United rider as he usually is one of the final men in the lead out train for the team's pure sprinters. "I enjoy leading the boys out for wins each week, but when my time came up, Hilton Clarke, Dominguez and Rollin were happy to repay the favor and help me win the race." said Manion.

By finishing 1st and 3rd in the Nalley/Sunny King Criteriums Manion also was the overall omnium winner for the weekend. Close behind and second overall was Hilton Clarke (Toyota-United) who won the field sprint for 5th in Roswell.

Photos courtesy of Trish Albert/Southeasterncycling.com