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Miami event attracts elite

© St. Petersburg Times
published October 4, 2002

Sprinting for thousands in cash prizes and hoping to earn the last of the season's national cycling points, the best in criterium racing turned out for last weekend's Miami Cycling Classic.

Coconut Grove's highly promoted and televised main event Sunday was won by Eric Wohlberg (Saturn) in front of 25,000 spectators. David Stedje (BBC/Jetworks) of Lutz was the top bay area racer, winning the Masters 35-plus division.

For information, go online to

TRI-AMERICA FINAL: Fred Sommer of Clermont's CFT/Sommer Sports played host to the series' season finale at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista last weekend.

Hundreds of kids raced Saturday in a mini triathlon at Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.

On Sunday, a record field of nearly 2,000 athletes from 33 states and eight countries competed in the Tri-America Triathlon. Race distances were a 1.5K swim, 40 kilometers of biking and a 10K run.

The day after the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club training ride Saturday morning, Bill Picciano, 36, Jupiter, won the Tri-America in 1 hour, 57 minutes, 13 seconds. The women's overall winner was Clair Domingo, 25, Jacksonville, 2:17:27.

Local winners included Ryan Hatfield, 24, Clearwater, 2:13:37; Melanie Rowton, 29, Tampa, 2:22:22; Lisa Plescia, 42, St. Petersburg, 2:15:31; Linda Musante, 48, Tampa, 2:17:58; Art Halttunen, 52, St. Petersburg, 2:20:07; Dennis Gatto, 67, South Pasadena, 2:56:37; Larry Yost, 72, Treasure Island, 3:10:11; Jackie Yost, 74, Treasure Island, 3:50:55; Charley Futtrell, 82, The Villages, 3:58:44; Clydesdale Bill Urbanski, 43, Tampa, 2:25:09; and Robert Villacres, 33, St. Petersburg, military division, 2:08:21.

Musante's victory shows she's in top form for November's triathlon world championships in Cancun, Mexico. Halttunen appears to be ready for Hawaii's Ironman World Triathlon Championship.

But for some in the Tri-America, the goal merely was to complete the event, which had plenty of wind blasting them on the challenging bike segment.

The oldest female in the race, Yost says she usually tries to pedal as fast as she can while avoiding the swarms of passing age groupers.

"I was in the fourth wave, right after those big Clydesdales," Yost said. "The race was so well-organized, I felt perfectly safe, and all the riders were on their good behavior.

"There were a couple thousand out there, and I had people cheering me all over the run course," she said.

TEAM IN TRAINING: Lewis Bennett, 57, of Largo placed fourth (2:36:19) in the 55-59 age group of Sunday's triathlon.

Bennett escorted 300 rookies to Sommer's Tri-America series finale as the head coach of the Suncoast Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. TNT raised more than $85,000.

"I'm very proud of the way these athletes performed," Bennett said. "Even though most were competing in their first triathlon, their many hours training and their dedication to the cause produced excellent results."

Bennett and Tampa Ironman grandmaster Bo Webster have been invited by triathlete Darry Jackson to host weekly training clinics for the AARP Tri-Umph Triathlon at Bill Jackson's Shop For Adventure in Pinellas Park throughout the fall season.

Clinics are open to all athletes but may focus on individuals 50-and-older who are competing in the AARP event at North Shore Pool on Nov. 16.

Some training will be at Largo's Walsingham Park. For information, call (727) 535-5008.

Team In Training raised more than $1,000,000 ($3,000 per rider) at the Tropical Island Century during the CycleFest racing and touring weekend in West Palm Beach last month. For information, go online to

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP: Dean Cosgrove, 42, of Tarpon Springs has qualified for the Ironman World Triathlon Championship, Oct. 19 in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii.

The race distances are a 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles of biking and a 26.2-mile run. Nearly 100,000 athletes from 53 countries attempt to qualify for the annual event.

Cosgrove, a registered nurse who works as a personal trainer, has been preparing for his 13th competition in Hawaii. Only 10 people in the world have competed 12 consecutive years.

For information, go online to

BIKE TO WORK: The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club's Joe Lindquist and Kimberly Cooper are urging all area cyclists to get involved in Commuter Choice Week, which starts Monday.

Bike commuters may want to complete a commitment card from the Bay Area Commuter Services (BACS), and sign up for bicycle pooling.

BACS is a nonprofit organization funded by the Florida Department of Transportation andother groups. The goal is to remove cars from the road and encourage people to use low-cost, healthy transportation to work.

For information, call (800) 998-RIDE.

2003 TOUR DE FRANCE: Four-time champion Lance Armstrong (U.S. Postal Service) has announced he will seek a fifth victory in the July race.

Organizers say the 100th anniversary stage event will begin in downtown Paris and include weeks of festivals throughout France.

DIABETES CHALLENGE: The sixth annual event is scheduled for 8 a.m. Nov. 9 in Dunedin.

The Diabetes Challenge ride is a bicycle tour (not a race) with routes of 25, 50 and 100 kilometers. There will be a short family ride for kids.

For information, call 1-800-741-3730 or go online to

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