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Pasco rider among state's best in road races

By JESSICA MUNDIE Cycling/ triathlons
Published May 9, 2007


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Summer cycling season is well underway, with Pasco County's Josh Thornton leading the pack.

Thornton Team Kodak/Sierra Nevada, a Category 1 USA Cycling rider from San Antonio, won February's Habitat Road Race, the area's season opener, and has since led the way in team tactics.

"Josh is a great guy who wins by being the strongest rider out there, " said Team Neptune manager Eddie Mullally of Tarpon Springs. "Our team sometimes trains with Josh and he has taught them a lot. He's just tearing up the road racing scene in Florida."

Top local road racing teams include Team American Classic of Tampa; Atlantic Shores Velo, Orlando; Best of the Bay Cyclists, Lutz; Colavita, Winter Park; Team GearLink, Dunedin; Ford Cycling Team, Orlando; Neptune Cyclery, Tarpon Springs; Oliver's Cycle Sports, Tampa; Team Outspokin, Largo; Team Ringling Bicycles, Bradenton; Sweetbay, Tierra Verde; Team 19, Longwood; and West Coast Wheelmen, St. Petersburg.

Thornton and former state road champion Derek Wilkerson help put Florida cyclists on the map back in the 1990s and the two Pasco riders produced some of the best results on the national cycling circuit. Coach Jim Pavek organized the San Antonio Road Race, which became the state road race, launching Wilkerson's career with Thorton following his lead.

"Mix these guys in with the best riders in the U.S. and they show what can be achieved with hard work, lots of road miles during a Florida winter, " Pavek said. "Derek and Josh are among the best bicycle racers to ever come out of the bay area. They were good enough to turn pro when they were juniors. It's great to see local riders go on the road and do well."

TOP AREA RACERS: Locals have done well, too, and last weekend hundreds of racers packed up water bottles and coolers, heading for the brutal Sugarloaf Mountain Road Races held on the challenging course in Clermont. Racing to top-five finishes: first-year racer Sheila Lopez (Team Outspokin), Doug Franzese (Neptune Cyclery), Pascal Jugy (Team GearLink) and Largo's top 55+ master rider Mike McCollum (Team JAX), who leads the 2007 Florida points series standings for his category. These racers are among the top of the points standings: junior Steve Rusnak (Team GearLink), third place; Mark Yeager (Neptune Cyclery), third masters 35+; Lopez (Team Outspokin), second; Dominc Olliviere (Oliver's Cycle Sports), third in Category 4.

STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS: Short-course sprinters will plan their peak training for the Florida State Criterium Championships in Lakeland on May 20. Contact Dave Stedje at backbay1@yahoo.com.

Riders who specialize in endurance events on rolling terrain will head to State Road Race Championships in Ocala, June 9-10. To register, contact Tim Molyneux at tim@topviewsports.com.

Florida's time trial cyclists and triathletes are gearing up for the State Time Trial Championships (20 kilometers, 40K)e in Olustee, June 17. According to riders in that area, the course is flat and very fast. Contact Ron Shinall at ron@jaxrace.info.

GOLD TORCH AWARD: Pinellas county masters have produced some of the most inspiring performances at Good Life Games and Senior Games. Triathlete-swimmer-cyclist Patrice Hoffman won the 2007 Gold Torch Award. Hoffman, 56, of Palm Harbor won Gold Torch Award for the third time, after winning gold medals in the 5K cycling and 10K cycling in addition to medals in road racing, track, swimming, weightlifting and the fitness challenge.

[Last modified May 8, 2007, 20:48:25]


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