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Lutz woman strikes gold in California

By JESSICA FISH
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002

Lutz cyclist Sherri Stedje is a master of short-course, criterium racing and long, hilly road events.

Stedje, 36, a BBC/Jetworks team rider, captured two gold medals last week in the USA Cycling Masters National Championships in steamy Bakersfield, Calif.

"I am used to riding in Florida, and I couldn't get used to the dry, hot air out there in Bakersfield," Stedje said. "I'm still dehydrated. My lips were burning when I tried to drink out of my water bottle."

Many competitors wilted in the 105-degree weather, but Stedje battled for the champion's stars-and-stripes jersey.

"I was pretty sure I could win the criterium," said Stedje, a previous short-course champ.

"Winning the road race was great," she said, "because it showed that I can climb with the best of them."

Stedje spent the early part of the season logging 500-mile weeks and eight-hour days with BBC teammate Robin Kavan of Tampa.

"When Sherri got in a break in the road race, you could see why she is one of the strongest masters riders in the country," track champion Earl Henry said.

Henry (West Coast Wheelmen) of Pinellas Park placed fourth in the 60-64 men's criterium. He traveled with Stedje and her husband, David (BBC), and two-time Olympian John Sinibaldi Sr. (WCW) of St. Petersburg.

"I yelled to Sherri that if she could get up the last two-part hill, she would win that women's road race," Henry said.

"All those training miles back in January paid off for her," he said. "She deserves a pro contract for next season."

The bay area earned one other medal: Sinibaldi's silver in the men's 80-plus time trial.

Sinibaldi lost the gold in a ride in which he said his Southern California rival apparently missed a turn. That cut out part of the 20-kilometer course and was unseen by officials, Sinibaldi said.

For results, go online to www.velomasters.com or www.usacycling.org. To see individual riders, log onto www.photocrazy.com.

ROAD TO KONA: The list of local qualifiers for October's Ironman Triathlon World Championships in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, may be growing.

Among the best athletes in Pinellas County, Danny Nolan of St. Petersburg will compete in Lake Placid, N.Y., in the Ironman USA Triathlon. Joining him will be Doug Franseze, Greg Sironen, Kim Donaldson and 1,500 others.

The race is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride and 26.2-mile run.

For information, go online to www.ironmanlive.com.

CLOSER TO HOME: Tampa's Sten-Barr Triathlon Team is enjoying a successful season after choosing to race locally and gain experience.

Andy Stenberg, a former professional hockey player, has started his triathlon career by winning in Crystal River and Tarpon Springs.

Bill Barr, 42, of Odessa works as team manager on the road, and raced to a second-place finish in the men's 40-44 division (12th overall) in Sunday's Englewood Beach Triathlon.

Steven Gust, 24, of Naples won the Englewood event (swim a quarter mile, bike 15 miles and run 3.1 miles) in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 28 seconds. Rachel Chambers, 29, of Sarasota topped the women's field in 1:08:34.

Other Englewood winners included Mike Fox, 13, St. Pete Beach, 1:14:23; Seth Kimball, 19, Clearwater, 1:13:01; Neil Harvey, 69, Tampa, 1:43:05; Larry Yost, 72, Treasure Island, 1:27:14; Carole Torreano, 54, Safety Harbor, 1:30:11; Shirley Taylor, 69, Largo, 1:38:21; Jackie Yost, 74, Treasure Island, 1:44:20; Lisa Jamison, 40, Tampa, athena class, 1:22:15; and Melanie Rowton, 29, Tampa, fat-tire class, 1:18:35.

TOUR DE FRANCE: Many area cyclists and triathletes say they have been able to beat the heat by staying indoors, enjoying the Outdoor Life Network's daily coverage of the event.

Defending champion Lance Armstrong and his U.S. Postal Service teammates are giving American fans something to cheer about. But Armstrong told OLN that some French spectators have been verbally abusive to him.

"During last week's mountain stages, I could hear French fans along the road calling me names and booing," Armstrong said.

Some spectators say they are concerned about Armstrong's safety. He has been known to increase security for his squad and family.

"If you want to come to a bike race, you don't have to behave like that," Armstrong told OLN online reporters. "It's simply a matter of class."

The race ends Sunday in Paris. For updates, go online to www.lancearmstrong.com.

BEACH EVENTS: The 10th annual Strangeman's Beach Biathlon and 5K Beach Run are scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday at Clearwater Beach.

The biathlon will consist of a 2-mile run and quarter-mile swim. The 5-kilometer run will begin with the biathlon.

For information on registration or volunteering, call Steve Strange, (727) 442-9815.

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