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Area athletes train near Switzerland

By JESSICA FISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 4, 2001


An accomplished group of area cyclists, in-line skaters, runners, triathletes and alpine skiers joined St. Pete Mad Dog member Darry Jackson of Seminole for his cross-training adventure near Switzerland last week.

The group of 30 snow skiers included triathletes Leslie Stallings of Clearwater and Michael Schenker of St. Petersburg. Stallings got her St. Anthony's Triathlon registration in just in time for the April 29 race.

Schenker plans to join Oldsmar's Michael Honeycutt in marathon training with USA Triathlon coach Diane Berberian, who will ski in Europe with the group next season.

Others in the mix on Jackson's trip to Chamonix in the French Alps were Debbie and Chuck Hietala of Palmetto. Debbie, who says she's "visually impaired," is no stranger to skiing in Europe. Her husband and skiing personnel on the mountain are Debbie's guides, enabling her to enjoy the blue and red intermediate trails. The Hietalas plan to tour Europe next year on a tandem bicycle.

Golfer Helen Newcombe of Zephyrhills won a tournament just before joining Jackson's group. Celebrations began immediately after the group landed in a Zurich terminal Sunday, when the area riders learned of a major win by professional cyclist Erik Zabel.

Zabel's white Team Telekom jersey was shown on Eurosport channels as he raised his hands in triumph after surviving a crash to win the 200-kilometer Milan-San Remo Classic by mere inches. Zabel became known in the bay area after he wintered here the past several years with close friends in Tierra Verde. Bicycle racer Jim Marshall of Seminole and Ironman triathlete Mike Hofstetter of Largo recognized Zabel and invited him to one of the Saturday morning club rides.

Before locals knew it, the likable German pro was seen chatting away while relaxing on top of his handlebars, even though the speed was increasing. Dozens of riders were hanging on for all they were worth in a 35 mph single-file paceline, riding down Gulf Boulevard.

Zabel's speed recently earned him the green sprinter's jersey in the Tour de France and his Milan-San Remo victory. ARMSTRONG RETURNING TO TEXAS: American Lance Armstrong (Trek/U.S. Postal Service) and his wife, Kristin, have been living in Nice, France, since the first of the year.

Armstrong and other professional cyclists are in Nice logging huge mileage for stage race preparation.

Armstrong will return briefly to his hometown and pet project. The Janus Ride For The Roses Weekend is scheduled for Friday through Sunday in Austin, Texas. About 7,000 riders are expected for the festival, which raised $2 million last year for the Lance Armstrong Foundation's cancer survivorship program.

The Janus Ride will include a 5-kilometer running race,weekend-long expo, U.S. Postal Service silent auction, USA Cycling criteriums in downtown Austin, family rides, bike tours and kids activities. For information on volunteering or registering for the event, call the Lance Armstrong Foundation, (512) 236-8820.

MORE LOCALS COMING TO EURO: Triathlete Wendy Goss of St. Petersburg is organizing a group of locals who will compete in the Karnten Ironman Austria Triathlon (2.4-mile swim, bike 112 miles, 26.2-mile run) on July 15 in Klaugenfurt.

"Some of us are going directly from Ironman Austria to L'Alpe d'Huez," Goss said. "We will enjoy watching the Tour de France. Hopefully, Lance will be riding as well as he was last season."

The group includes Goss, her brother, John Goss, who's a St. Petersburg bicycle racer and "first-timer" at Ironman distance, Sofia and Bogey Bereza of Clearwater, Beth and David Carte of St. Petersburg, Tim Hudson of Belleair Bluffs, Carolyn Kiper of St. Petersburg, Dale Kjos of Belleair, and Bela Molnar of Largo.

For more information, call (727) 582-1910.

CLERMONT'S PAN AMERICAN: The 18th Great Clermont Triathlon is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Sunday at Lake Minneola in Clermont. Race distances will be a 1.5-kilometer swim, biking 40 kilometers and a 10-kilometer run.

CFT/Sommer Sports will play host to the first event of Central Florida's triathlon season, and it has lengthened after being designated as the Pan American Triathlon Championships.

For further information, including the National Training Center that's under construction or the summer sprint series (0.25-mile swim, bike 11 miles, 3-mile run), check the web site, www.triflorida.com, or call Fred Sommer, (352) 394-1320.

SPRING CLASSIC TOUR: The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club presents the 13th annual Spring Classic, which will be at the Manatee County Fairgrounds in Palmetto on Sunday at 8 a.m.

The Classic features rides of 19, 35 and 62 miles. This is an enjoyable tour, not a race, and the roads are flat and offer rural scenery through the Terra Ceia area.

Proceeds will benefit The American Cancer Society. The registration fee is $25. For more information, call Danny Staffenberg, (727) 344-0185, or e-mail him at staffenberg@juno.com.

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